Rescheduled from October 1st
Cat's Cradle Presents

Watchhouse

Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves

Friday, October 28
Doors: 6:30pm : Show: 8pm
$27-$45 Members, $30-$50 Nonmembers

Due to unforeseen circumstances and expected inclement weather, the Watchhouse concert originally scheduled for Saturday, October 1, has been rescheduled to Friday, October 28. Tickets for the original date can be used for the rescheduled date; just present your ticket at the new event. For additional assistance, or to request a refund, contact [email protected] during gallery hours, Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Please note refunds may take up to 48 hours to process after requested, and refunds must be requested by Friday, October 7. See a full update from the band on social media and join us in wishing Andrew and Emily our best.

Band statement regarding the reschedule:

Well y’all, it’s been a year. This past weekend Emily had emergency surgery to stop hemorrhaging caused by an ectopic pregnancy. It was scary and we’re so glad we were home and could get life saving care right away. Sadly this means we can’t travel to Australia next week, and for now those shows are canceled/refunded until we can figure out a good time to go for it. Our Greenville, SC and Raleigh, NC duo shows will be pushed by just a few weeks so we can let both these hurricanes pass 🌀. New show dates for those are 10/27 and 10/28.

By the time 2019 came to its fitful end, Andrew Marlin knew he was tired of touring. He was grateful, of course, for the ascendancy of Mandolin Orange, the duo he’d cofounded in North Carolina with fiddler Emily Frantz exactly a decade earlier. With time, they had become new flagbearers of the contemporary folk world, sweetly singing soft songs about the hardest parts of our lives, both as people and as a people. Their rise—particularly crowds that grew first to fill small dives, then the Ryman, then amphitheaters the size of Red Rocks—humbled Emily and Andrew, who became parents to Ruby late in 2018. They’d made a life of this.

Still, every night, Andrew especially was paid to relive a lifetime of grievances and griefs onstage. After 2019’s Tides of a Teardrop, a tender accounting of his mother’s early death, the process became evermore arduous, even exhausting. What’s more, those tunes—and the band’s entire catalogue, really—conflicted with the name Mandolin Orange, an early-20s holdover that never quite comported with the music they made. Nightly soundchecks, at least, provided temporary relief, as the band worked through a batch of guarded but hopeful songs written just after Ruby’s birth. They offered a new way to think about an established act.

Those tunes are now Watchhouse, which would have been Mandolin Orange’s sixth album but is instead their first also under the name Watchhouse, a moniker inspired by Marlin’s place of childhood solace. The name, like the new record itself, represents their reinvention as a band at the regenerative edges of subtly experimental folk-rock. Challenging as they are charming, and an inspired search for personal and political goodness, these nine songs offer welcome lessons about what any of us might become when the night begins to break.

“We’re different people than when we started this band,” Marlin says, reflecting on all these shifts. “We’re setting new intentions, taking control of this thing again.”

When 2020 dawned, Emily and Andrew hatched a plan to break old habits: For the first time, they’d leave Ruby with Emily’s mom and escape with their longtime bandmates to a cabin on the edge of Smith Mountain Lake, a sprawling hideaway at the foot of the Appalachians. Also for the first time, after a decade of Andrew engineering and producing most of the music the band made, they’d bring help—Josh Kaufman, the producer and multi-instrumentalist who had wowed them with his work alongside the likes of The National and his trio Bonny Light Horseman. There were no expectations. This was simply a full-band retreat with a new friend and co- producer, working together in the refulgent sunshine of grand lakeside windows.

Almost immediately, they realized this wasn’t some audition; they were making Watchhouse. On the first day, Kaufman told Emily and Andrew to imagine this were their first record and to realize that conceptions of how they had worked, recorded, or even sounded belonged only in the past. In a way, Andrew had new permission and space to lean into his vision for what Watchhouse might become.

“Andrew is so confident in what he wants to hear, so full of ideas. Even beyond what we’d worked out together on tour with these songs, he knew what he wanted,” Emily says. “Having Josh in the studio meant Andrew didn’t have to bear the whole weight of getting there.”

Alongside drummer Joe Westerlund, guitarist Josh Oliver, and bassist Clint Mullican, Andrew and Emily indulged novel structures and textures. “Better Way,” a kind-hearted meditation on online meanness, shifts slowly from a bluegrass trot into a spectral marvel before an immersive acoustic drone frames a new future. The gentle harmonies of “Belly of the Beast” eventually turn into a tangle above baying strings, Andrew and Emily guiding each other through the shared perils of whatever comes next.

These songs, after all, started with a fundamental shift in Emily and Andrew’s life. In the first few months after Ruby’s birth, they split the day into shifts: Emily minded Ruby during the waking hours, while Andrew sat beside Ruby all night, watching their firstborn sleep as he quietly strummed strings. In those wee hours, he allowed his writing to wander, capturing the uncanny sense of wonder and intrigue that pervades the darkest parts of night. “If I didn’t have Ruby in my hands, I had an instrument in them,” remembers Andrew. “And watching Ruby sleep, being surrounded by that mystery at night, led to a feeling of magical realism in these songs. I used melodies and ideas I’d never use.”

Long-lost relatives, for instance, gather with him around the crib in communion during “Lonely Love Affair,” mentoring him through this staggering upheaval. He expresses the fears of a new father, alleviated by the possibility and goodness he sees in his sleeping baby. These songs allowed Marlin and Frantz to take the chance Kaufman proposed because they’re about the value of doing exactly that, of trusting in grand acts borne of personal uncertainty.

Likewise, Emily’s dual turns here as lead singer are absolute breakthroughs, equally wrought from the confidence of past success and the excitement of present energy. As Emily coolly considers the ups and downs of mere existence, “Upside Down” pirouettes from the country thump of Neil Young in 1971 to the surging epiphanies of Radiohead a quarter-century later. Andrew wrote “Beautiful Flowers” after crashing into and presumably killing a butterfly with his car—this quiet triumph is a history of the automobile that doubles as a poignant chronicle of the modern tragedies and miracles we normalize. It reckons with climate change and the fatal side- effects of our industrious, industrialized nature with beguiling humility. Emily delivers all this with a gospel conviction, astral horns slowly unspooling beneath her as a reminder of the fragility at work.

With harmonies so easy they sound like kitchen-table talk, Andrew and Emily sail through “New Star,” an ode to the self-sacrifice and renewal of trying to create something, like a child, that might make the world better. Revolutionary kindness, social responsibility, collective understanding: These simple but staggering ideas are the unseen threads of Watchhouse, a miraculous expression of measured domestic protest.

In our era of recalcitrant typecasts and incessant cultural churn, it is rare to witness anyone press ahead into the unknown while holding fast to what’s best about their past, too. That’s what Watchhouse have done with their self-titled debut. Emily and Andrew have discarded neither their tenderness nor thoughtfulness; instead, they’ve enriched those essential qualities by submitting to the risks of new sounds, structures, and inputs. They’ve embraced surprising notions that make their steadfastness stronger.

It will be tempting to summarize this record as Watchhouse’s inevitable parenthood record, or maybe the one where they got a little strange, or maybe the one where they change their name. It is, instead, a record about growing up without growing old, about experiencing the world and letting it change you, whether through the mystery of a newborn or the vagaries of improvising or the comforts of familiar and wondrous love. Watchhouse is a perfectly rendered link between their longtime allure as Mandolin Orange and an unwritten future as the band Watchhouse, one that’s only as hopeful as we can imagine it might be.

Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves
Traditional music is not static; it shifts with the times, uncovering new meanings in old words, new ways of talking about the communal pathways that led us to where we are today. For master musicians Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves, traditional banjo and fiddle music is a way to interpret our uncertain times, to draw artistic inspiration and power from the sources of meaning in their lives. History, family, literature, live performance, and environmental instability all manifest in the sounds, feelings, and sensations that permeate their music. Their 2022 sophomore album, Hurricane Clarice is a direct infusion of centuries of matrilineal folk wisdom, a fiery breath of apocalyptic energy. 
Individually they are both leaders in the young generation of roots musicians, de Groot being known for intricate clawhammer banjo work with Bruce Molsky, and Hargreaves bringing powerhouse fiddling to the stage with Laurie Lewis and David Rawlings in addition to teaching bluegrass fiddle at UNC-Chapel Hill. Their first self-titled album released in 2019 garnered attention from CBC Q, Paste Magazine and Rolling Stone Country, earning the duo the Independent Music Awards “Best Bluegrass Album” and a nomination from IBMA for “Best Liner Notes of the Year.” The duo has been booked at festivals and venues such as Newport Folk Festival, Savannah Music Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh, NC, and Red Wing Roots Music Festival. Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves create a sound that is adventurous, masterful, and original, as they expand on the eccentricities of old songs, while never losing sight of what makes them endure.