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.

Birds of Chicago – September 18th

There are lots of things I like about my husband Tim and his skill at photography ranks up there pretty high. We have lots of framed photos in our home from his trips abroad but some of my favorite photos are ones that he’s taken of musicians while they are performing. It’s pretty tricky – the photographer has to wait until the artist is: a) far enough away from the microphone that it doesn’t obscure too much of the face, b) not making a grimace or strange expression – which most singers do as they put emotion into their voice, c) free of instrument tuners, event wrist bands and stage clutter. Sometimes all these stars (A,B,C) align & photo magic happens.


One such magical photo was taken in Portland, Oregon at the Alberta Rose Theater of Allison Russell. Allison was performing with J.T. Nero, Chris Kokesh, Lincoln Crockett, Mikey August and Jason Montgomery. On Wednesday, September 18th Birds of Chicago (Allison Russell and J.T. Nero) will be at Chestnut House Concerts for the first show of the 2013-2014 series.

Birds of Chicago falls in the general category of Roots/Americana with the smooth voice of Allison mixing with J.T. Nero’s husky vocals. Both artists are song writers and they blend aspects of gospel, folk and soul with ukulele, guitar, clarinet and banjo instrumentation. Seats for the show are saved by emailing or calling/texting 717-940-9311. The name of each person attending is requested in advance and donations of $15/20 are accepted at the door.