String Summit returns to Randolph’s Chandler Center

  • From left, Joe K. Walsh, Lily Henley, Duncan Wickel, Tristan Clarridge and Simon Crisman perform at last year's String Summit at Randolph's Chandler Center for the Arts. Many of the same musicians will return for this year's summit, which takes place this weekend. (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/1/2020 8:43:37 PM
Modified: 1/2/2020 10:19:49 PM

At the end of the inaugural String Summit at the Chandler Center for the Arts last Jan. 3, banjo master Ben Krakauer invited a dozen Central Vermont musicians to jam with the players of bluegrass, old-timey and other acoustic music who’d joined him for a pilgrimage to Randolph from around the country.

About an hour later, concert organizer and Turnip Truck fiddler Andy Mueller was already looking ahead to musical lightning striking the same place on the same date in 2020.

“These guys are so diverse, and so skilled, and so open-minded,” Mueller, a Randolph-based luthier who specializes in guitars and mandolins, recalled this week. “It was a celebration of musical exploration, community and friendship, a celebration of creative expression.

“As we left the room, after this miraculous thing that had just happened, I thought, ‘How could you not want to do that again?’ ”

Mueller didn’t have to ask Krakauer twice. On break from his day job teaching ethnomusicology at Warren Wilson College near Asheville, N.C., Krakauer returns to the Chandler on Friday night along with 2019 summit performers Lily Henley, Joe K. Walsh, Grant Gordy, Tristan and Tashina Clarridge and Dan Klingsberg and Duncan Wickel.

“Andy did a wonderful job getting the word out, and it turned into a nice community event as well as refreshing for us,” Krakauer said in a phone interview last week. “The musicians who came with me are a group of good friends I’ve collaborated with over the years. Anytime there’s a chance to be all together, we jump on it.”

Late in 2018, Krakauer and friends were looking for a place where they could reunite for a retreat — something less hectic than a recording session, a music camp or a festival. Through Barnard-based music presenter Chloe Powell, Krakauer reached Mueller, who in turn secured the Chandler’s Esther Mesh Room through the center’s vice president, Ramsey Papp, and started emailing the date and the venue to about 50 friends and musical peers.

“Sometimes I won’t hear back from anybody about an event, but as soon as I put the word out, a lot of people said, ‘Whoa! I want to be part of that!’ ” Mueller said. “The thing just snowballed. Everybody was emailing everybody else, and it was a completely packed room.”

In addition to more traditional roots music, Mueller said, the visitors performed variations on jazz and Latin music as well as early drafts of original compositions.

“Lily Henley sang some Middle Eastern Jewish liturgical music in Hebrew,” Mueller recalled, “And Sam Crisman did a Bach cantata on hammered dulcimer. The music was revelatory, even more amazing than I expected it to be.”

Mueller expects the 2020 offerings to cleanse the musical palates of players and listeners alike.

“The timing is perfect,” Mueller concluded. “We’re going to be ready for something that’s not holiday-related insanity.”

The second annual Vermont String Summit startst at 7:30 on Friday night in the Esther Mesh room of the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph. Admission by donation. Organizer Andy Mueller will kick off a raffle for a Muleskinner Model A Oval Hole mandolin that he built in 2018, with proceeds to benefit the Chandler’s “Live & Up!” series of roots music concerts.

Best bets

Norwich-based stand-up artist Kevin McTaggart hosts the monthly, adults-only Comedy Club Night on Thursday at 7, at The Engine Room in White River Junction. Twin State performers fishing for laughs include Pierre Vachon, Ryan Kenyon, Heather Keith, Leigh James Whitten, Gilman Seymour and Peter Struckmeyer. Admission $5 to $10.

■Fans of traditional music who missed the recent Christmas Revels, or who attended the annual yuletide pageant and want to hear more, can catch percussionist Jane Boxall, guitarist and bouzouki player Adam Broome, fiddler Jaige Trudel and keyboardist Alex Cumming in concert at The Engine Room in White River Junction on Friday night at 7. Admission $10 to $15.

■ Bellydance instructor Gina Caposella kicks off her next series of free lessons next week, with sessions at the Richard W. Black Center in Hanover on Monday night at 5:45, Tuesday night at 7:15 and next Thursday night at 5:45. She encourages “all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities” to try the art form. To learn about these and subsequent Upper Valley lessons, scheduled for Jan. 11 in Lebanon and Jan. 12 in Wilder, visit

Theater/performance art

The Sound of Music, performances from Thursday afternoon to Sunday afternoon at Barrette Center for the Arts in White River Junction. Tickets $17.75 to $57.75.

Scrooge: The Musical!, performances from Thursday to Saturday nights at World Under Wonder Playhouse in Ascutney. Admission $10; visit or call 603-381-3344.


Bel Canto Chamber Singers, auditions for 2020 season, Wednesday night from 6 to 8 at First Congregational Church of Lebanon. To schedule audition time, email To learn more, visit

Bar and club circuit

Mad Hazard Band, jazz, bossa nova and blues, Thursday night at 5:30 at the Quechee Club’s Davidson’s Restaurant.

■Enfield-native singer-songwriter Brooks Hubbard, Thursday night at 6 at Peyton Place restaurant in Orford.

■Singer-songwriter Alison “AliT” Turner, Thursday night at 6 at Crown Point Country Club in Springfield, Vt., and Friday night at 9 at Margaritas in Lebanon.

■Bassist Peter Concilio, saxophonist Michael Zsoldos, keyboardist Tom Robinson and drummer Tim Gilmore, jazz, Friday night at 8 at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

■Singer-songwriter Jim Yeager, Saturday afternoon at 2:30 at Suicide Six ski lodge in South Pomfret, and Monday night at 6:30 at 506 on the River in Woodstock.

Open mics, jam sessions

Alec Currier’s weekly open-mic at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon, Thursday night at 8.

■ Jakob Breitbach hosts jam sessions at two White River Junction venues over the coming week: acoustic roots on Tuesday night at 7 at The Filling Station Bar and Grill, and jazz next Thursday night at 6 at the Hotel Coolidge’s Cafe Renee.

■Tom Masterson’s open mic, Tuesday night at 7 at Colatina Exit.

■Peter Meijer’s open mic, Wednesday nights at 8 at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland.

Looking ahead

Hartford-native singer-songwriter Allison Fay Brown will return to the Upper Valley on Jan. 10, with a 7 p.m. performance of folk, rock, indie and alt-country music at The Skinny Pancake in Hanover.

■The Vermont Mandolin Trio, aka maestros Matt Flinner, Will Patton and Jamie Masefield, will perform on Jan. 10 at 7:30 p.m., at the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret. For tickets ($20) and more information, visit or call 802-457-3500.

And So We Walked, performance artist DeLanna Studi’s multimedia exploration of her Cherokee ancestors’ forced journey along the Trail of Tears in the mid-1800s, Jan. 10 and 11 at Dartmouth College’s Moore Theater. For tickets and more information, visit or call 603-646-2422.

■Singers Gideon Crevoshay and Avery Book, workshop on world vocal styles, Jan. 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Seven Stars Arts Center in Sharon. Registration fee $40 to $80; visit or call 802-763-2334 to sign up.

■Harmony Hill, roots/Americana, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. at North Common Arts in Chelsea. Admission $12 to $15; visit or call 802-685-4699.

David Corriveau can be reached at or 603-727-3304. Send entertainment news to


The Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph will host the second a nnual Vermont String Summit of acoustic musicians on Friday night at 7:30, in the center’s Esther Mesh Room. An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect time and date for the concert.

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