Artist Update: Eggs for Honey


McGraw-Fer-Off-Grid-Lo-Fi-FrontOn December 5, 2015, Chestnut House Concerts hosted Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer just over 2 years from their first house concert here in 2013. Mandy and Dave co-write their songs, and as time passes, their music is stronger, the lyrics richer and the harmonies sweeter.

After their show on December 5, Dave and Mandy mentioned that they would be house sitting “off the grid” for friends on a nearly uninhabited island of  Washington State’s San Juan Islands. They would be working on a new album while taking care of some aging donkeys. And, if you were at the house concert that night, you may remember some jokes about Dave being trapped on the island while Mandy learned the banjo.

Eggs for Honey is from their album off-grid low-fi and was featured as song of the day for Folk Radio UK  (FRUK). I can see why – it was posted just 20 minutes ago and I’ve already played it 4 times.  Click the link below to read more about and listen to Eggs for Honey.

The album “off-grid lo-fi” will be available on June 24, 2016.


Kaia Kater, another female banjo player who writes her own music will be at Chestnut House Concerts on Monday, August 22, 2016.  More on Kaia Kater in upcoming posts.

Artist Updates

Diplomas and the Double Bass

Upright bass player Kirsten Lamb of Cold Chocolat97460012 (2)e, a Boston based four-piece band that played at Chestnut House Concerts last summer, graduated from the New England Conservatory with a Master’s in Contemporary Improvisation.  Congratulations Kirsten!


Another female bass player – Hasee Ciaccio with The Barefoot Movement graduated with her bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University.  We know how hard she worked to make this happen – way to go Hasee!

Tania Elizabeth and her husband10405674_10153098878905867_4331546039580514956_n Andy Stack (playing together as The Stacks) were at Chestnut House Concerts in June 2013.  Tania has been playing with The Avett Brothers and Andy’s band Buffalo Stack has been gaining popularity after great reviews of their album “Buffalo Stack”. The band is working on their second recording. Andy was featured in the May 2015 issue of Vintage Guitar.

No Depression, the leading voice in American roots music since 1995, premiered a video by Mandy Fer and Dave McGraw called “Tide Moon Ship Horn”. We’re hoping to have Dave and Mandy return to Chestnut House Concerts before the end of 2015. They were received well in 2013 and their most recent album Maritime is getting great reviews.  


Chestnut House Concerts presents Ian Foster on Sunday, May 24, 2015 at 7:00 pm. It’s not a school night since Monday is a holiday. No excuses. Call/text Tim at 717940-9311 or email at to reserve a seat.  Opening songs by one of Lancaster’s favorite duos, Jake Lewis and Katie Seifarth.

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

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  Potluck at 6, Show at 7.



photo by Tim Lehman

Tim and I were able to take a whirlwind trip to the Pacific Northwest during the last two weeks of August.  Tim lived in Portland for many years and we had the opportunity to visit friends and relatives in Oregon, Washington and Victoria BC.

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photo by Tim Lehman


Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer performed at Chestnut House Concerts in November, 2013 and they reside in the San Juan Islands in Northwest Washington. We knew that we would not be able to visit them on this trip as they were busy touring, but it was a sweet surprise to find their Kickstarter announcement of Maritime in my Facebook feed during our trip.


photo by Tim Lehman


While Tim drove from Tacoma to Port Angeles so we could take the ferry to Victoria, I played Dave and Mandy’s announcement of their Kickstarter project for Maritime.  Producer Zach Goheen, drummer Andrew Lauher, and bassist Christopher Merrill (Birds of Chicago) joined Dave and Mandy in a cabin in the San Juan Islands to record Maritime.

Check out their Kickstarter campaign and hear some clips of their new music.  We hope to have them back at Chestnut House Concerts in the spring of 2015 so you can hear the new tunes directly from them.

Tonight, September 7, 2014 we host a sold out show with Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys.  September 27, 2014 is a house concert with guitarist Billy Strings and mandolin player Don Julin.







In Search of Musicians


Many times we book bands at Chestnut House Concerts that we have heard live, but other times we simply trust recordings and recommendations and we’ve never regretted that method.  We listened to Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer’s recording “Seed of a Pine” and viewed various videos of them playing.  We also knew that they collaborated with Birds of Chicago on recordings and in live shows – so although we had not been to one of their shows, booking them was a no-brainer.

Dave and Mandy were able to work with Folklore Coffee & Company to book a performance at Elizabethtown’s 2nd Friday – which provided us with an opportunity to see them live before their show here next week. I had been at the building years ago when it was a different coffee shop and I was reminded again of what a great space Folklore has on the corner of Main and High Streets in Elizabethtown.  I commute daily to Harrisburg and so going to E-town (the halfway point of my hour commute) on the weekend is not typically high on my list of desires – but the Davy Crockett sandwich, the butternut squash soup, the friendliness of the staff, the ambiance and, of course, the music…made it worth it. We met Dave and Mandy and they joined us in the order line to refill Mandy’s tea and get another espresso for Dave to help combat the cobwebs after having driven straight from Portland, ME to Pennsylvania.

A few things were apparent at the live performance.  Mandy is energy. Her feet pound out the rhythm and her fingers fly over the frets as she demonstrates her high skill level as well as the ability to put emotion into the music.  Prior to the show I wasn’t aware of Dave’s percussion abilities.  He uses a doumbek to give rhythm on several songs and the sounds of the drum vary from medium pitch tones to deep resonating tones that make you look for a bass player in the corner.  Dave and Mandy work together smoothly and it’s obvious they’re having a lot of fun both writing and performing their songs.

We’re so excited for our house concert guests to hear Dave and Mandy one week from today – Saturday, November 16, 2013.

Potluck at 6:00 pm; show at 7:00 pm.

Seed of a Pine: Dave McGraw & Mandy Fer


We first communicated with Mandy Fer (Ferrarini) and Dave McGraw about their upcoming November show at Chestnut House Concerts 10 months ago.  Since that time we’ve built an online friendship with this duo from San Juan Island, Washington who met & started their music in northern Arizona.  They sent us their CD, Seed of a Pine, allowing us to become familiar with their music – and we sent them numerous venue recommendations on our coast to help them fill out their tour. Their friends and music collaborators Allison Russell & J.T. Nero (Birds of Chicago) opened our 13-14 concert series in September.

It’s not long into the CD until the listener begins to understand the connection between this group and the natural world.  Seed of a Pine contains song titles such as “Grow”, “So Comes the Day”, “Western Sky” and “Serotiny”.  I have to admit that I needed to ask Tim about “serotiny” – when pine seed release occurs in response to an environmental trigger (like fire) rather than spontaneously at seed maturation.  Tim explained that in some trees, like the Ponderosa Pine, the cones are covered with a wax which in a wildfire open in response to the heat of the blaze, scattering seeds  onto soil newly fertilized by nutrients in the ash. 

Dave McGraw is a wildlife biologist and both his and Mandy’s songs contain phrases such as  “tornado of joy”, “pouring like rain”, “thirsty ripe sage”, “landscape of violence and joy”, “wind blow so soft now”, “tallest pine top” and “riverbed longing for the rise”.  They sing about love, places they have been, and the natural world.

They take turns singing the lead on their songs, Mandy plays electric guitar and Dave acoustic guitar.  Others have likened their sound to artists Greg Brown and Patty Griffin.

At Chestnut House Concerts we ask for a donation at the door of $15 – $20, and because it is a small venue we do need to know in advance that you would like to attend.  Please call/text 717-940-9311 or email Tim at

There’s an introductory video of Dave and Mandy below – but you can see them in person on Saturday, November 16th.  Potluck at 6:00 pm, the show starts at 7:00 pm.