Artist Updates

BN-IX108_NYKULT_M_20150612162014Tim Connell who played at Chestnut House Concerts in 2014 and 2015 with Mando Planet also plays mandolin with the world renowned Ger Mandolin Orchestra. They recently performed in New York City, an event that was picked up by the Wall Street Journal. 


Our very first house concert guest back in 2012 (and again with Sally Barris in 2015) was Jonathan Byrd. In my opinion he is one of the best writers in Americana music, and Jonathan Byrd’s response to the tragedy in South Carolina was shared over 4,000 times on Facebook.



She said ‘Yes’.


Alex Conerly of The Barefoot Movement proposed to his love, female vocalist Marion Grace, at the Grand Ole Opry.  We’re happy to celebrate their engagement.



After doing a project together for Earthwork Music, Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys recorded “Burning it Down” with Max Lockwood and John Driscoll at La Luna Recording and Sound. They sound mighty fine together, but it might be difficult to squeeze a 6 piece band on our ‘stage’ at Chestnut House Concerts.

The July 13, 2015 concert with I Draw Slow is sold out. You can see them on July 14, 2015 at Tellus360. On July 28, 2015 we will be hosting Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepherd Kings. Suggested donation is 15/20. Potluck at 6 pm and show at 7 pm. Email Tim at or call/text 7179408311 to RSVP.

Joel McKenna of the Steel City Rovers – 5/5

Joel McKeJoelnna is the guitarist for the Steel City Rovers – He has been playing acoustic guitar since a very young age and is able to capture the soul of the song in his playing and through backing vocals. Joel also spends time in the recording studio – not just with Steel City Rovers material, but with other recording artists as well.

The show at Chestnut House Concerts is tomorrow night (Thursday, June 18, 2015). If you’ve procrastinated with your RSVP, it’s not too late. Potluck at 6, Show at 7.  Contact Tim at or call/text 7179409311.  We’ve reviewed all 5 members of the Steel City Rovers:  Jess, Mark, Ryan, Dave and Joel – and now we welcome the band to Lancaster, Pa.

Dave Neigh of the Steel City Rovers – 4/5

Meet DaveNeighDave Neigh, fiddle player with the Steel City Rovers.

When Dave is not playing with the Rovers he can be found playing guitar, bass, Irish tenor banjo, mandolin, tuba and harmonica.  But not all at one time.

Dave also plays with the Ever Lovin’ Jug Band and the blues fiddle group Step On It!.  To see the Steel City Rovers on Thursday night (June 18, 2015), rsvp with Tim at or call/text 7179409311.  Potluck at 6; Show at 7.

Ryan McKenna of the Steel City Rovers – 3/5


Ryan  McKenna of the Steel City Rovers was kind enough to speak with me about his band from Hamilton, Ontario.

Hamilton, like Pennsylvania’s Steel City, is experiencing urban renewal – from steel to medicine. The Juravinski family is investing dollars in cancer research and with this new energy there are fresh possibilities. Young people are re-purposing city space as active living areas with lots of art and music. Old places are becoming re-energized, helping the community wake up from the stupor of previous generations.

“Broadly speaking, our culture in North America is going through a shift. Things cannot be done the same way anymore” said McKenna. He then related this cultural transition to the Rover’s approach to Celtic music. The band plays only original tunes bringing newness to Celtic roots by looking back to traditional ways of playing the music and giving it a twist. While a song might be brought to the band with the lyrics and melody already together, (Ryan is the lyricist) band members might change a line or add an idea. The Rover’s work well together and when something doesn’t feel right, they maintain the delicate balance between knowing when to seek change and when to step back.

Ryan and guitarist Joel McKenna are siblings and have been making music together all their lives.  About 10 years ago multi-instrumentalist Mark Fletcher came to a pub where Ryan and Joel were performing and he sat in on some songs with them and they’ve played together ever since. Drummer Danno O’Shea played with the Rover’s until he became too busy to make a full time commitment to a band. Danno recommended his protégé Jess Gold; she and fiddle player Dave Neigh round out the five piece band.

The Steel City Rovers continue to gain recognition in the music industry and this year received their second nomination for the ethnic/world category at the Hamilton Music Awards. McKenna notes that the band is receiving acknowledgement for strong vocal harmonies and songwriting but also as an instrumental powerhouse. The Rovers are now playing on stages that they’ve wanted to be on for quite some time.  While the large venues are fun, the small house shows or pubs are what they’re most used to and familiar with.  There’s no division between the performer and the audience.

Two of the most asked questions when hosting house concerts are “what kind of music is it?” and “what should I bring to the potluck?”.  Ryan’s answers are “Celtabilly” and “Guiness always pairs well with music”.

Hope to see you on Thursday evening. RSVP with Tim at or give a call/text to 717-940-9311.

Mark Fletcher of the Steel City Rovers – 2/5

Mark Fletcher got his musical foundation on the piano after which came classical and flamenco guitar styles.  The complex finger work of thesthesteelcityrovers-ridgeway2014-5e styles allowed Mark to adapt to other instruments quickly.  Mark is known for his multi-instrumental skills and in any given performance with the Steel City Rovers can glide from Scottish smallpipes to mandola, accordian or Irish Whistle.


Mark has been active in the music industry for close to 40 years, playing his first professional gigs at age 16. Over time he has performed the music of many genres, been the architect of many well known Celtic ensembles and contributed his musical skills to nearly 40 recordings.

The Steel City Rovers will be at Chestnut House Concerts on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.  Prior to the show at 6:00 p.m. will be a potluck; reservations can be made by a text/call to Tim at 71794 09311, or an email to

Jess Gold of the Steel City Rovers (1/5)

jessJess Gold is the percussionist for the Steel City Rovers from Hamilton, Ontario. Jess has been playing drums for over seven years,and although her playing style is often described as electric funk, she loves to perform all types of music. Jess truly comes alive when entertaining an audience. At our house concern venue Jess will not use a full drum kit but will add percussion with the cajón and other rhythm instruments.  She currently attends Humber College for the Bachelor Degree Program in Music. Her aim is to create a solid foundation on which she can build a lifetime full of music.

img-6715-2The Steel City Rovers will appear at Chestnut House Concerts on Thursday, June 18, 2015.  Potluck at 6, Show at 7. Suggested donation of $15/20. RSVP with Tim at or call/text 71794-09311.

A Chestnut House Concert Interview with Ian Foster


An interview with singer – songwriter Ian Foster.

Karen:  Ian, if I were to visit you in St. John’s, the city you call home, and had just one day, what would you want to show me during the visit?


Ian: St. John’s, Newfoundland has a few #1s, so the tour would involve those. It’s the oldest city in North America, and also the most easterly. So, I would show you the ocean, which is easy to do where I live – it can be seen just minutes from my home in the downtown core of St. John’s.



 I would take you to Cape Spear, which is about a 20 minute drive outside of the city, and show you the most easterly point in North America. 


I would show you Signal Hill, site of the first transatlantic wireless transmission.

Karen: On your most recent album “The Great Wave” there is a song titled If the Weather Holds. While this song is about more than weather, it is notable that Newfoundland is not a place for wimps. How has your island’s extreme weather impacted your song writing?

Ian: I’m from the urban centre in Newfoundland, so we don’t see the same extremes as some of the remote parts of the island. I do often think that places with harsher climates can yield especially good art – maybe it’s because we’re inside during the snowstorm strumming a guitar instead of lounging on a beach in the sun!

Karen: When you are songwriting do the lyrics or melody typically appear first?

Ian:  It depends on the song. Sometimes the music will come first and will hang around without words for a while. Sometimes someone will tell me a story so compelling that I’ll lyrically have a fully formed song without music almost immediately. On occasion, they both evolve together, informing the other. No matter what – there has to be a strong relationship – one has to fuel and push the other. 

Karen: You attended the 2014 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) conference and this is where you became acquainted with Lancaster-based musician Jake Lewis. How important are conferences like NERFA for musicians?

Ian: Conferences can be extremely important for musicians. This tour will see my first shows in PA, MA, MD, WV and NY. About half of the shows on this tour came out of NERFA somehow, whether that was directly from presenters or from meeting like-minded musicians like Jake. Of course, there is a risk for the musician – they can be expensive weekends, and there are no guarantees. In all of those cases, musicians are literally paying to play in the hopes that it will generate work down the road. Exposure is an important factor, as everyone says, but – as the saying goes – you can die from exposure! It’s all part of the ‘business’ side of music. 

Karen: You have a love of storytelling. Do you come from a long line of storytellers?

Ian: My father is definitely a man interested in stories. I did a history minor in university, and I remember there being a big difference between academic history and the history as my father told it. defaultAcademic history places such a strong emphasis on statistics, dates and facts. Obviously, those things are important, but sometimes, academic history can stop there. My father loves facts (he could tell you the .mm of a certain bullet used by the allies in a particular gun in WWII), but he also loves anecdotal tales. That one little story which tells the big story; the one that connects us to those before us. That’s something that made me love history, and then made me love telling the little histories I sometimes tell in song. 

Karen: Thanks Ian for taking the time to answer these questions.  We look forward to hearing your music and your stories on Sunday, May 24, 2015 at Chestnut House Concerts.

If you’d like to attend this house concert, contact Tim at or by phone/text at 717-9409311. Potluck at 6 pm, Show at 7 pm.