Make it a Double

JandTThe Portland, Oregon based mandolin duet of Jack Dwyer & Tim Connell (Mando Planet) is returning to Chestnut House Concerts on Friday, April 10, 2015.  Like doubling the good stuff in a drink, the rich sound of two mandolins fills the room as these artists bring their creativity, energy and talents together.  It’s not a competition but rather a conversation between two instruments. You might hear Brazilian Choros, Irish Jigs, as well as African or traditional folk tunes.

To RSVP for this show, contact Tim Lehman at or call/text 717940 9311.  The suggested donation is $15/20 per person; all of which goes to the artists. Potluck at 6 pm, show at 7pm.

The Corn Potato String Band – The Ears and Eyes of America


             Aaron Jonah Lewis                                                photo by Tim Lehman (7/2013)

I first heard Aaron Jonah Lewis at Grey Fox 2013. His fiddle solos were extraordinary and his stage presence and demeanor drew my attention.

Almost two years later we received a request for Aaron’s current band “The Corn Potato String Band” to play at Chestnut House Concerts.

I did not need to scope out their webpage, listen to audio tracks or watch them on YouTube before agreeing to have the Corn Potatoes for a house concert.  Any band with Aaron on fiddle is welcome here.

Not knowing much about the Corn Potatoes I held a brief conversation with Aaron by phone to ask a few questions so that you, potential audience members, could learn more about this band that plays traditional fiddle and banjo music.

Ben and Aaron met a long time ago when they played in a band together, and more recently, Aaron met Lindsay at Clifftop. He brought the two of them together as “the ears and eyes of America”.  The band plays mostly traditional music with 1 or 2 originals in the mix.  They have two albums- The Corn Potato String Band was released in 2014 and The Corn Potato String Band,Volume 2 in January 2015. Both albums were recorded live with no overdubs; Ben did the artwork for both covers.


Lindsay, Ben and Aaron each play multiple instruments which allows from some double fiddle and banjo tunes. Bringing new songs to the group and determining who plays which instrument seems to be an organic process and the gravitation towards a particular instrument just happens naturally.  Having 3 multi-instrumentalists in the group does lend itself to quite a variety of band configurations.

The enjoyment of life on the road for Aaron comes from visiting old friends and meeting new people.  He keeps focused on the music and the audience and keeps a positive mindset.  The Corn Potatoes are pretty easy going and one advantage of the house concert venue is that the band has an opportunity to meet the audience.

I asked Aaron which musician, (dead or alive), would he have liked to hear perform? His response was Nicolò Paganini, Italian violinist and composer – connicolo_paganini_769725sidered by many as the greatest of all time.  Paganini  would sometimes tune one of his strings a semitone high for a performance,  and once he played the majority of a piece on one string after breaking the other three. Paganini enjoyed using techniques that included harmonics, double stops, or near impossible fingerings. It is reported that Paganini’s performances would awe the audience and could move people to tears.

After speaking with Aaron and listening to The Corn Potato String Band’s music online, I believe that the Chestnut House Concert audience also will be in awe for this band is full of energy, talent, good stories and laughter. They play at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, 2015.  Potluck precedes the show at 6:00 p.m.  To RSVP contact Tim at or call/text 717-940-9311.

House Concert Magic


Allison Russell with her daughter Ida.

“Whether it’s 30,000 people at a festival or 30 people at a house concert, each venue has its own magic” ~ Allison Russell from Birds of Chicago

Birds of Chicago return to Chestnut House Concerts on Sunday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m. The usual potluck will take place at 6:00 p.m. before the show.

If you’re unfamiliar with BOC and their sound, the video below provides a sampling of their songs and a little bit about the band.  If you’d like to experience some of the magic on March 22, RSVP with Tim at or call/text 717940-9311.

Something for Everyone: 3 upcoming shows include soul, folk, roots, old-time and world music.


Mando Planet (Jack Dywer and Tim Connell) played at Chestnut House Concerts in March 2014 and we’re excited to have them return on April 10, 2015 to play the world’s music on sixteen strings. Their set typically includes music from Ireland, Brazil, the Appalachians, Africa and the African Diaspora, Greece, The Jewish Diaspora, and the Balkans.

The Corn Potato String Band plays traditional American music and all three members are multi-instrumentalists. In addition to being champion fiddlers they play banjo, guitar, bass and mandolin and deftly handle many different antiquated styles including ballads, “ho-downs,” country “rags” and southern gospel, specializing in twin fiddling and double banjo tunes. The Corn Potatoes will be at Chestnut House Concerts on Saturday, March 28, 2015.

Birds of Chicago won the hearts of the Chestnut House Concert audience in September 2013 and they will return on Sunday, March 22, 2015 for another evening of music.  The Birds of Chicago just finished recording a new album Real Midnight with producer Joe Henry and they will share some of their new songs with us.

For all three shows the evening will start with a potluck at 6:00 p.m. followed by music at 7:00 p.m.  To save a seat contact Tim at or call/text 717.940.9311.  Suggested donation of $15/20 per person.

Flynn Cohen of Low Lily


photo by Andy Cambria

Flynn Cohen studied Music at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, England and at Mills College in Oakland, California. He now teaches in the Music Department at Keene State College in New Hampshire, as well as The Music Emporium in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Flynn will be in concert (vocals, mandolin, guitar) with the American folk band Low Lily (formerly known as Annalivia) at Chestnut House Concerts on Thursday, February 26, 2015.

Below is a video of Flynn Cohen performing one of his original tunes “Snag” (video by Andy Cambria). Note that the fiddle player in the video is Emerald Rae; Lissa Schneckenburger will be performing with Flynn Cohen and Liz Simmons as Low Lily at Chestnut House Concerts.

To RSVP contact Tim at or text/call 717940-9311. $15/20 suggested donation.  Potluck at 6, Show at 7.

Low Lily: Preserving Tradition

Francis James Child, the son of a sail maker, was born in Boston on February 1,1825.  Child attended public school for his primary and secondary education during which time his potential and intelligence was apparent enabling him to continue his education at Harvard – graduating first in his class in 1846 and thus beginning his academic career at Harvard. Child was Harvard’s Boylston Professor of Oratory and Rhetoric until 1876 when he became the university’s first professor of English.

During his time at Harvard, Child’s deep passion was the collection and preservation of the ballad tradition.  He desired the most comprehensive collection of all known English and Scottish ballads, which by this time,  included their AmericanCover_of_Francis_James_Child's_''English_and_Scottish_Popular_Ballads'' and Canadian variants.  Child collected 305 ballads total, each one numbered and referenced as Child #7, Child #274, and so on.While Child’s collection was acknowledged by scholars, very few additions or changes were made for over half a century.  It wasn’t until the 1950’s that there was a renewed interest in ballads during the folk music revival.

John Burgess, author of Francis James Child -Brief life of a Victorian enthusiast: 1825-1896 states that since the 1950s, “new interpretations (of ballads) have appeared regularly, remarkably fresh and original given the ancient sources of the lyrics. Child passed on to subsequent generations of audiences and performers a legacy of scholarship that they have been able to enjoy on their own terms and express in their own fashion. In doing so, he preserved the continuing vitality of the ballad tradition that he loved so much” (Harvard Magazine, 2006).

A fine example of the preservation of ballads comes from the band Low Lily.  Vocalist and guitar player Liz Simmons heard a recording of “False Sir John” (aka May Colvin, the Elfknight, or Child#2) by Jean Ritchie and then changed the ballad from a major key to a minor key, modifying the melody and tempo. This ballad originated in Scotland, was modified by many including an Appalachian folk singer, and now by contemporary artist Liz Simmons.


Low Lily is an “American roots and branches” vocal and string trio which draws from tradition and today to create their own brand of new acoustic folk music.  They will be appearing at Chestnut House Concerts on Thursday, February 26, 2015.  Potluck at 6 pm, show at 7 pm.  RSVP with Tim at or text/call 717 9409311.




Low Lily

10603303_10152791484019491_5044194541377641372_nIn February we are excited to have Low Lily, a three member Americana-roots band.  Low Lily, formerly known as Annalivia, includes artists Liz Simmons, Flynn Cohen, and Lissa Schneckenburger. These musicians are masterful players and have long histories with traditional music, ranging from bluegrass to Irish, Scottish, New England and Old Time Appalachian music. This background, combined with each member’s stellar compositional skills and cutting edge arranging chops, makes for music which sounds rooted yet contemporary.

Many thanks to Lancaster Newspapers (LNP) for their article on Chestnut House Concerts published in the Entertainment section on Sunday, January 4, 2015.  Correspondent Scott Kreider took the time to interview us just prior to the holidays and wrote a very thorough article about our house concert series as well as the January 9th show with Harpeth Rising. The article generated a lot of interest and we  ‘sold out’ the show.

To RSVP for the Low Lily show on Thursday, February 26 email Tim at or call/text 717-940-9311. Potluck at 6:00 pm, show at 7:00 pm.