The Road to Geneseo


Pulpit chairs and instruments. Photo from Mike Brown’s studio website,

One of the inspiring things about life is the beauty that can result from both intentional and random human connections.  In December, 2011 David Jacobs-Strain was in Rochester, NY to open at a venue and found out that he was double booked with local musician Mike Brown. Mike and David began a conversation about guitars and old songs that still continues today.

Mike purchased an 1828 Methodist church in Geneseo, New York which he converted to a music studio called Temperamental Recordings. David chose this studio to record his 2012 album Geneseo


“Mike’s “Temperamental Studios” is a one-of-a-kind place. The basement that now houses wandering musicians was once a stop on the Underground Railroad, and the main room was used for open-casket funerals during the Civil War. The beams that hold the place together were cut from the timber that grew on site, and were joined without the use of nails. Mike has filled this space with over a thousand instruments that span the last 170 years of American popular music: Guitars of every description, abandoned horns, orchestra bells, flea-market banjos, a seemingly haunted pump organ that was last tuned in 1869, pianos that time forgot… It’s an ark of lost sounds waiting to be rediscovered and made new again” ~ David Jacobs-Strain, 2012 Kickstarter campaign

I grew up about 50 miles from Geneseo and went to college not far from this town.  It’s an area with pockets of severe poverty contrasted with a richness in history, fascinating people and wondrous landscape. I’m fascinated that this poet from Eugene, Oregon found an old church in upstate New York in which to write and record.

Geneseo is an album with 10 original songs  produced by Mike Brown and David Jacobs-Strain.  Below is a video of David singing “Josephine”, the final cut from that album.  He’s performing with Bob Beach on harmonica.

If you would like to see David Jacobs-Strain and Bob Beach on Sunday, November, 23, 2014 contact Tim at or by phone/text at 717-940-9311.  Suggested donation of $15/20.  Potluck at 6:00 pm, Show at 7:00 pm.

She says love is made of diamonds; I say it’s broken glass.

Appearing next at Chestnut House Concerts is duo David Jacobs-Strain and Bob Beach. Below is a video by Pint of Soul of both musicians performing “Raleigh” from the album Geneseo released in June, 2013.

Sunday, November 23, 2014  |  Potluck at 6 pm, Show at 7 pm  |  Contact Tim Lehman at 717-940-9311 or at

Artist Updates

The Stray Birds the_stray_birds_-_best_medicine_sm_2

The Stray Birds’ new release “Best Medicine” is a 12 song CD recorded at Stonebridge Studios in Leesburg, VA and produced by the band and Stuart Martin. 10 of the tunes are originals with the same intelligent lyrics and tight harmonies that we learned to love from their first album, The Stray Birds.  The two traditional tunes included are ‘Who’s Gonna Shoe’ and ‘Pallet'; the latter being my favorite because I love the spirit that Charlie brings to the lead vocals.

Banjo BabesLindsay

If you’re looking for a 2015 wall calendar, you might want to consider Banjo Babes.  It features two artists that were at Chestnut House Concerts this fall, Lindsay Lou and Evie Ladin.

We’ll have to wait for 2016 and hope the other banjo babes that have been at Chestnut House Concerts like Laney Jones, Allison Russell (Birds of Chicago), Laurel Premo (Red Tail Ring),  Rachel Baiman (10 String Symphony) and Greta Bondesson (Baskery) will be featured in the next calendar.

The proceeds from the calendar are used to promote banjo music.

Billy Strings & Don Julin

Billy and Don

You know a band has got talent when they are booked to open for two of the greatest musicians in the history of bluegrass – Del McCoury and David Grisman.  Five shows in November starting tomorrow (11/11/14) at City Winery in New York, NY.


The Barefoot Movement

Congratulations to The Barefoot Movement for winning the “Band of the Year Momentum Award” from the International Bluegrass Music Association in October, 2014.  This band will make a return appearance at Chestnut House Concerts on Sunday, December 7, 2014.  Show at 7:00.



The next concert will be guitarist and singer/songwriter David Jacobs-Strain. David will be playing with Bob Beach (vocals, harmonica) on Sunday, November 23, 2014.  Potluck at 6 pm, Show at 7 pm.  Email Tim at to reserve a seat, or find us on Facebook.


I like songs that recount history like Dylan’s “Hurricane” or “Louisiana 1927″ by Randy Newman and I particularly like when one of these historical ballads has information that is new to me, requiring some online research.  Laurel Premo’s “Peshtigo” on Red Tail Ring’s Middlewest Chant  was one of those songs.

Of course I knew of the Chicago fire of 1871, and the wrongly accused cow.  What I wasn’t previously familiar with was that the worst recorded forest fire occurred the same night in Peshtigo, Wisconsin.  When the large cyclonic storm that revved up Chicago’s fire also came through Wisconsin, conditions were perfect for a forest fire in that region – a long drought, a town built with wood, logging industry, ‘slash and burn’ methods for clearing farm land, and cleared ground for the railroad. Some theorize that a meteorite or comet might have ignited the flame that killed more than 1200 people and burned over 2400 acres.

Laurel Premo’s family lives in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan near the Wisconsin border and the Peshtigo fire is an important part of her family history.  Though he was just an infant at the time of the fire, Laurel’s great-great-grandfather and his mother survived the fire. Laurel wrote about this piece of history in her song “Peshtigo”.

“Both animal and man, ran from the fiery hand, the waters were the only way, for son and mother to be saved. … The river Menominee, with blankets held over thee, but in the well where soot floats down, one may smother but not drown” (from Peshtigo by Laurel Premo).

Both members of the duo Red Tail Ring write the songs they sing and instruments incorporated by Laurel and Michael (Beauchamp) include: banjo, mandolin, jaw harp, fiddle and guitar. For a night of original songs such as “Peshtigo”, RSVP for Red Tail Ring’s show on Friday, October 24, 2014 by contacting Tim Lehman at or call/text 717-940-9311.  Potluck at 6:00 pm, Show at 7:00 pm.