I remember the first time I heard a carillon. Until that time I was most familiar with the single bell at our little country church that rang when the long rope in the vestibule was pulled. The church pastor had the honor minutes before the morning service began, but sometimes the youth were allowed to try – coached to smoothly pull the rope so that the bell had one clear ring with each stroke.

While some church belfries contain carillons, the carillon is different from church chimes – and many times are housed in their own belfry, unrelated to a church.  It’s an instrument made up of at least 23 bells; the largest in the US is in Michigan with 77 bells. In New York City, the Rockefeller carillon has the largest bell (a C note) at over 40,000 pounds and over 10 feet in diameter.

The carillon that I first heard is at Alfred University in New York, first assembled in 1937. The bells of a carillon are precisely tuned so that many can ring together in harmony. Unlike the single church bell I remember as a child, the bells are stationary and only the clappers move. Thousands of pounds of bronze swinging back and forth would not make for a very safe instrument.  A carillonneur is seated at a keyboard that has long batons as keys. The carillonneur strikes the batons with the fist for the high notes and the larger clappers are moved with foot pedals.

The first carillon was built in Flanders (the Dutch-speaking region of what is now Belgium). In medieval times the bells would ring from lowest to highest to warn the citizens of fires, approaching storms, or invasions. Today carillons are used in times of celebration such as weddings or town parades, for musical appreciation, and simply, to announce a new hour in the day.  There is a carillon at Longwood Gardens if you’re headed there for the holiday season and want to check it out.


Dave McGraw & Mandy Fer       (Jenn Repp Photography) 


Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer have had multiple tours in Europe in the past several years. Their album Maritime was #1 on the EuroAmericana charts after its release in 2015.   In 2013 they visited Amsterdam and were inspired to write their song Carillon. Some amazing stories following the writing and release of this song exist, but I will let Dave and Mandy tell those stories at their house concert on Saturday, December 5, 2015.  Potluck at 6 pm. Show at 7 pm. There are a few seats remaining and you can contact Tim at to rsvp.


The Honey Dewdrops

The Honey Dewdrops officially formed in 2007 and started receiving national attention one year later when, on a whim, they submitted an entry to Prairie Home Companion’s Talent Contest – and won. Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish offer tight harmonies, a love for songwriting, and instrumentation that includes clawhammer banjo, mandolin and guitars.  Their first recording was in 2009 and in May, 2015 they released their 4th album “Tangled Country”.

Join the audience at Chestnut House Concerts on Saturday, November 14, 2015 to hear The Honey Dewdrops – potluck at 6 pm, music at 7 pm.  Contact Tim at or call/text 717940 9311.

“Their talent is such that it’s quite possible that a new band recording in the year 2020 might cite the Honey Dewdrops as a prime influence.”- BLUEGRASS UNLIMITED MAGAZINE

Co-Bill: Tattletale Saints & 10 String Symphony


Returning to Chestnut House Concerts on Friday, October 23, 2015 are the 10 String Symphony and Tattletale Saints.

The Nashville-based duo that is 10 String Symphony formed in 2012, when Rachel Baiman and Christian Sedelmyer formed the band out of mutual admiration for each other’s playing. They have two albums, 10 String Symphony and, to be released on October 23, 2015, Weight of the World.

Tattletale Saints is a duo from New Zealand that is now based in Nashville, Tennessee. Cy Winstanley, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, is joined by vocalist and double bassist Vanessa McGowan. Tattletale Saints recorded their debut album How Red Is the Blood in January 2013 in Nashville with Grammy winning producer and multi instrumentalist Tim O’Brien.

Our house concerts begin with a potluck at 6 pm and the music starts at 7 pm.  A suggested donation of 15/20 per person can be made at the door. If you’d like to attend, email Tim at with your name and the number of seats to reserve.

Cluck Old Hen

At the 2015 Grey Fox Music Festival Tim and I were able to attend a workshop on The Mountain Music Project with Abigail Washburn, Tara Linhardt, and several Nepali musicians -one who was playing the sarangi. The sarangi is carved from a single piece of wood with goat skin stretched across it. It has 4 strings like a violin and the middle strings are tuned in unison to create a droning sound.  My ears interpreted it as a cross between a violin and a dulcimer.

The Mountain Music Project – from Appalachia to Himalaya is effort supported by Tim O’Brien and Abigail Washburn that creates awareness of mountain music in other cultures. It was interesting to learn that the Nepali culture has many songs similar to traditional Appalachian tunes. For example, Honira Salala (Water Flowing Slowly) has a similar melody to Going Across the Sea; Deri Phul Paareko (So Many Eggs) has the same concept as our very popular Cluck Old Hen.

Below is a delightful rendition of Cluck Old Hen by The Blackberry Bushes Stringband. Jes Raymond (guitar) takes the vocal lead and the song has fun creative mandolin (Daniel Ullom), banjo (Alex Genova) and fiddle (Jakob Breitbach) breaks. Between 2:30 and 3:00 the band has some complicated timing changes with bassist Forrest Marowitz keeping the groove and then everyone in the band joins vocals for a final a cappella verse.


The Blackberry Bushes Stringband will be performing original tunes on Friday, September 25 at Chestnut House Concerts – but we may get them to sing a few traditional tunes like Cluck Old Hen. If you’d like to attend please contact Tim at or call/text 7179 409311.  Potluck at 6:00 pm, Music at 7:00.

Artist Updates



Laney Jones has a new band! Bass player Tré Hester and percussionist Brian Dowd join founding member Matthew Tonner (guitarist). If you want to hear Laney Jones and the Spirits they will be in Pennsylvania on September 26, 2015 in Schyulkill Haven. In the meantime we’ll be looking for ways to schedule them at Chestnut House Concerts.

Congratulations to Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepherd Kings as they took home 1st Place for Neo Traditional Band at Clifftop 2015. No one who witnessed their July 28, 2015 performance at Chestnut House Concerts should be surprised with this news.

Soon after their summer 2015 US tour that included a983792_10153531839914803_8988931035366921402_n visit to Lancaster, PA, I Draw Slow completed their first tour in Canada. The International Bluegrass Music Association announced two nominations for I Draw Slow – The momentum awards for Band Performance, and Vocalist Performance (Louise). Awards are presented Wednesday, September 30, 2015. You’ve got our vote for both categories – best wishes!

The next show at Chestnut House Concerts is The Blackberry Bushes Stringband from Seattle. This five piece Americana Bluegrass band will be performing at 7:00 pm on Friday, September 25, 2015. There will be a potluck at 6:00 pm and the suggested donation is $15/20 per person.  To reserve seats contact Tim at or by phone/text to 717-940-9311.

Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepherd Kings


The first phonograph showed up in 1877, yet another invention by Thomas Edison – and even he was fond of this machine that could record and play back sound and would often reply to questions about his best invention, “I like the phonograph best”.

Performers would stand before a funnel-shaped horn attached to a phonograph and belt out their tunes. High volumes of sound were required to make the recording diaphragm vibrate strong enough to force the cutting stylus to carve on the blank wax cylinder. The recording engineer would tell the musicians when to begin and would keep the wax shavings from getting in the way of the stylus during the recording.

Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepherd Kings have recorded songs on “honest to goodness” wax cylinder. The band, made up of Aaron Jonah Lewis, Matt Bell, Timmy Findlen, Lindsay McCaw, and Joy Patterson, reports “our mission is to perform the weirdest songs from the early days of tin pan alley on the format on which they were first recorded – wax cylinder”. The video below shows the band recording “The moon shines on the moonshine”.

Can’t wait to welcome this band to Lancaster, Pa and to host the Roochies on Tuesday, July 28 at 7:00 pm at Chestnut House Concerts.