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 tlehman9@gmail.com 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 tlehman9@gmail.com or call/text 717-940-9311. Potluck at 6:00 pm, show at 7:00 pm.



Great Things in 2014; More to Come

As we enter 2015 one can’t help but take note of all the 2014 “best of” lists.

Several artists that performed here at Chestnut House Concerts were on some of the music related lists of 2014.

The Bluegrass Situation listed The Best Roots Songs of 2014 and named “The Skillet Blues” by Nora Jane Struthers – this song is one of 6 on the album Country EP #1. You can read the entire list on The Bluegrass Situation’s website. Congrats to Nora Jane and her band.

It’s not surprising to see that Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer’s 2014 album Maritime came in at #11(out of 24) on the Euro Americana 2014 chart; in September 2014 they were number one. Dave and Mandy share the list with folk veterans such as Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt, and Rosanne Cash. To see the full list visit www.eurhigh-res-best-medicineoamericanachart.eu.

Folk Alley has several annual lists including “Best of 2014 – Folk Alley Listener Poll” in which The Stray Birds’ 2014 album Best Medicine was voted #2.

Our very first house concert was with Jonathan Byrd back in 2012 and The Triangle’s (Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina) 25 Best Albums of 2014 marked Byrd’s recent album “You Can’t Outrun the Radio” as number 13.

Chestnut House Concerts wishes everyone who has passed through our doors – audience members and musicians – a wonderful 2015.

On January 9, 2015 a female trio, Harpeth Rising, will be performing at Chestnut House Concerts.  We still have some seats available so if you’d like to attend please contact Tim at 7179409311 or by email at tlehman9@gmail.com.  Potluck at 6, Show at 7.

A Cello in the House

Both Tim and I name the cello as our favorite stringed instrument. While we’ve heard masters such as Rushad Eggleston and Natalie Haas play at bluegrass/Celtic festivals over the years, it is not common for most Americana/folk bands to incorporate the cello.  But finally, our 27th house concert, Harpeth Rising, will feature banjo, violin aMariaAlonend….cello.

Cellist Maria Di Meglio is classically trained and as a youth participated in orchestral groups that helped her gain exposure to many types of music. Maria’s mother is from Montenegro which created in Maria an additional awareness of styles of folk music across cultures.

Maria likes the flexibility of the cello – that it can be two instruments in one.  The cello is bass-like but also can be lyrical and melodic.

All three members of Harpeth Rising met at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where they all earned performance degrees.  With Rebecca Reed-Lunn on banjo, Jordana Greenberg on violin and Maria playing cello, Harpeth Rising produces a fusion of folk, newgrass, rock and classical.

Harpeth Rising will be performing at 7:00 pm on Friday, January 9, 2015.  Prior to the show there is a potluck starting at 6:00 pm.  Suggested donations are $15/20 per person and an RSVP is required.  Contact Tim Lehman at tlehman9@gmail.com or by text/call to 717940 9311.  Come meet the cello.

The Road to Geneseo


Pulpit chairs and instruments. Photo from Mike Brown’s studio website, http://www.temperamentalrecordings.com.

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 tlehman9@gmail.com or by phone/text at 717-940-9311.  Suggested donation of $15/20.  Potluck at 6:00 pm, Show at 7:00 pm.