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.


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.