The Keene Music Festival

Creating Community Through Music

The home of The Little Music Festival That Could.  

Sumner Knight Series:  Mike & Ruthy

Sumner Knight Series: Mike & Ruthy

Hailed as “a national treasure”  by songwriter peer Anais Mitchell, an evening spent with Mike + Ruthy promises to thrill your senses, raise your spirits, and delve deep into your soul. Their harmony-driven, fiddle & banjo alchemy echos a sound from a golden age of music yet their relaxed, often hilarious, and charismatic on-stage demeanor delivers a riveting live concert experience that is thoroughly in the present. 

Now in their 16th year of performing together, and as a second generation folk family, Mike + Ruthy spend most of their time on the road - with their kids in tow - performing 100+ concerts annually ranging from major folk festivals to intimate house concerts, both as Mike + Ruthy and with the Jay Ungar & Molly Mason Family Band.

“Some of the best songwriting of their generation” -- LA Weekly 

Mike + Ruthy met in NYC, just out of college, and went on to found “subversive acoustic stringband” The Mammals, one of the most popular folk rock bands of their generation.  (

 “The Mammals are the finest young bluegrass/old-timey band in the country, the country-branch house band for the new weird America.” -- LA Weekly 

 Tapped by Nora Guthrie in 2011 to make the first ever recording of Woody Guthrie’s love song “My New York City,” the song is now being hailed as one of the most gorgeous pieces to have ever come out of the archive. 

 In February 2013 Mike + Ruthy introduced a newly minted folk and roots festival called the Winter Hoot which brought Amy Helm, Sprit Family Reunion, Elizabeth Mitchell, Jeffrey Lewis,  Jay Ungar & Molly Mason, and other Americana favorites to the Ashokan Center near their home in upstate NY.  The Summer Hoot is scheduled for late August. ( 

Four releases into their duo career, Mike + Ruthy’s current plans include a new live record in 2014 and a fully analog studio record in 2015. 

   "Mike + Ruthy offer breathy. rich Americana...warm vintage sounds. -- Time Out NY

"Infectious new folk rock" -- Boston Globe

  • Sumner Knight Chapel (map)
Sumner Knight Series:  Michael Tarbox and The Bluebird Orchestra

Sumner Knight Series: Michael Tarbox and The Bluebird Orchestra

Michael Tarbox:

Michael Tarbox is a smokey-voiced singer from Boston with a sound that combines Appalachian music, blues and gospel in exciting, unexpected combinations. An innovative guitarist, his playing revisits American musical traditions in a unique voice. Tarbox is also a songwriter, with a spare, lyrical style that reflects and expands on his influences. His work with his band, The Tarbox Ramblers, has been praised by All Things Considered, The New Yorker and many more. Tarbox recently released his second solo album, Works and Days

"At the heart of Tarbox’s music is his guitar, as raw as it is charismatic. It creates an electricity that courses through every song." ––

The Bluebird Orchestra:


The Bluebird Orchestra is a quartet from Southern Vermont, led by artist/musician, Donald Saaf ,(known for his previous work with Dan Zanes and friends.) The group draws it’s influences from diverse corners, including the Carter Family, The Incredible String Band, Kurt Weill, and Thelonious Monk, while always keeping one foot in traditional American roots music. In any particular tune, you may encounter elements of folk, rock, early Jazz, Klezmer or even Polka music. The new self titled C.D. is a collection of songs written by Saaf with his wife, artist Julia Zanes but the band itself is a true collaboration of talented local musicians. It features Donald Saaf on vocals, guitar, tenor banjo and reed organ, Duke Johnson on the standup bass, Rick Contino on pedal steel, and Paul Mctaggart on drums. The C.D. also includes the amazing guest artist, Anna Patton on clarinet. Their music has been described as beautiful, sometimes sad, poignant and funny, sung and played with gusto, and sure to delight any audience.


  • Sumner Knight Chapel (map)
Sumner Knight Series:  Alpenglow

Sumner Knight Series: Alpenglow

Alpenglow began in a small Vermont town when founding members Peter Coccoma, Graeme Daubert, Elori Kramer, and Kenneth Root shared songs in an old stone mill. Over the next two years, after adding bassist Colin Weeks, Alpenglow transformed original songs rooted in the folk tradition into a collection of finely crafted arrangements that are sprawling, moody, and wholly their own. Their music has been described as "swooning, harmony-laden stuff... laced with arcing fiddle, shimmering keys and healthy doses of ringing guitar punch."

After years of walking past a hilltop chapel in the town they lived in, Alpenglow decided to play a show inside. The result was transformative: a chapel brimming with people smiling, swaying, and dancing together under the music’s effortless melodies and grooving rhythms. The spirit that night inspired Alpenglow to return to the chapel to record an album. The result is their appropriately titled new EP, Chapel, which is an effort to capture the spirit of a night, a place, and a time in the band’s life. The new collection of songs acts as a meditation on loss and the modern condition while at the same time stepping out of its reverent tone with moments of excitement and joy that ease the wayward soul.

  • Sumner Knght Chapel (map)
Sumner Knight Series:  Dave Dersham

Sumner Knight Series: Dave Dersham

The Keene Music Festival, in collaboration with Keene Parks and Rec and Southwestern Community Services presents a series of concerts at the Sumner Knight Chapel in the Woodland NED Cemetery to help raise money to renovate the chapel. This amazing little venue features music in its natural form. No amplification or sound equipment is used during the show; though on occasion folks do use electric instruments. It's music just as it's always meant to be.

Admission is by donation, and usually around $10 or so; depending on the performers we bring in. All profits go towards renovation and preservation of the Sumner-Knight Chapel. This is a family friendly event that we hope you'll be a part of.

For you GPS and/or mappy types, the Chapel's address is:

0 Chapel Drive

Keene, NH 03431

This Session’s Performers are: 

Dave Dersham

Dave is a wanderer: He spent a summer working the local chuck wagon set beneath Wyoming's Grand Tetons; taught Environmental Education in South Dakota's Black Hills; conducted 3 week treks with under-served youth across southern Idaho; and explored the ruins and culture of Central America. Music finally pulled him back to the confines of New England and the Cambridge, MA folk scene where he completed his first CD, "The Burn of Summer." The album enjoyed regular airtime on Folk Radio's WUMB, Emerson College's WERS, and brought selection as a finalist for Mountain Stage's emerging artists.

Dave's second album, "Gilding the Lilies" was recorded with the assistance of Boston's most adventurous lap-steele players, Lloyd Thayer, as well as the shrewd lead-playing and production of Jared Fiske of Fiske and Herrera. The CD was released in the fall of 2011 and was distributed internationally. He is currently working on material for his third CD to be released in the near future.

Dave also continues a yearly pilgrimage to the Kerrville Folk Festival, in the core of the Texas Hill Country, where he finds inspiration and community among his fellow vagabonds and troubadours.

“Dersham taps hopeful melodies and reverses lyrical expectations at every turn... exudes a brand of humane charm that sets him apart from every other songwriter you’ll see this year.” --Club Passim

For more information, go to:

  • Sumner Knight Chapel (map)
Sumner Knight Series:  Tracy Grammer with Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards

Sumner Knight Series: Tracy Grammer with Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards


Tracy Grammer rose to acclaim as half of the "postmodern, mythic American folk" duo, Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer. From 1998-2001, the duo released three internationally celebrated, folk chart-topping albums featuring Carter's mytho-poetic Americana songcraft and in 2002, toured with Joan Baez, both as featured artists and Baez's band members. Called “the new voice of modern folk music,” the duo was clearly in its ascendancy when in July 2002, Carter suffered a fatal heart attack while the duo was on tour. He was 49; Grammer, 34. 

Determined to honor the duo's journey and bring Carter's songs, and those of other favorite writers, to broader audiences, Grammer has kept to the road, releasing solo albums as well as selections from the Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer archives. Her latest release, LITTLE BLUE EGG, is a collection of intimate recordings from the duo's home studios. LBE was the #1 most-played album on Folk Radio in 2012, and once again, the duo were the #1 most-played artists for the year. 

Grammer has become one of folk music's most beloved performers. Renowned for her springwater-clear alto, perfectly intoned violin, and guitar playing that is by turns percussive and delicate, Grammer is also a masterful storyteller with an ease and charisma on stage -- not to mention a riotous sense of humor -- that hardly belie her modest beginnings as Carter's reclusive accompanist. Stories about the duo's first meeting, Carter's quirks and fancies, or Grammer's own misadventures and missteps are woven thoughtfully into the set list to create a uniquely personal evening that connects audiences to performer, to the Carter/Grammer legacy, and most importantly, to one another. Additionally, Grammer has begun down the songwriter's path as part of a song-a-week challenge called RealWomenRealSongs, and is sharing her fresh, fledgling efforts--and the stories and struggles behind them--on her current tour, to the delight of her longtime fans. As one fan put it, "With Tracy, it's never just about the music. It's a soul journey."


Mark Mandeville & Raianne Richards

Mark Mandeville & Raianne Richards are a folk duo from Massachusetts whose songs resonate with the lover of Americana and old country music, commanding familiar traditional melodies and poignant, introspective lyrics, and backing them with delicate arrangements on ukulele, clarinet, guitar and banjo.

  • Sumner Knight Chapel (map)