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.