Three terrific old-time musicians will set the Landmark Schoolhouse in Cabot jumping with their banjo, fiddle, hammered dulcimer and guitars at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 8. In a rare mid-week concert the father and son duo, Ken and Brad Kolodner, will be joined by Rachel Eddy in a trio appearance that features superb musicians performing in a cozy house-concert setting.
The Kolodners, from Baltimore, are each popular on their own, and together they represent some of the best music from the old-time tradition. Multi-instrumentalist Rachel Eddy, who performed in Montpelier recently at the Spice on Snow festival, returns to the area as part of the trio.
Ken Kolodner began his musical journey in the 1980s when he taught himself to play the fiddle. The hammered dulcimer followed shortly thereafter. He is a founding member of the world folk music trio Helicon with flutist Chris Norman and guitarist Robin Bullock.
Brad Kolodner grew up around his father’s music, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2007, when he took an introductory banjo class, that he was hooked on the instrument and style. The two initially expected they would focus primarily on the fiddle and banjo combination, the classic pairing in old-time music. But after experimenting with the hammered dulcimer and banjo pairing they recognized they were on the edge of a musical breakthrough. The result has produced a creative bond and danceable groove that has become their singular sound.
After just two years of studying banjo, Brad Kolodner won the 2010 Takoma Park Old-Time Banjo Festival earning a performance spot at The Birchmere, sharing the stage with banjo legend Tony Trischka. In 2012, he won first place in old-time banjo at the prestigious Lowell Fiddle and Banjo Contest. In the summer of 2013, Brad won the inaugural Banjo Hangout National Clawhammer Banjo Contest. His version of “Boatman” was the highest-rated submission out of all 69 entrants. Most recently, he was a finalist at the prestigious Appalachian String Band Festival (Clifftop).
The duo started performing regularly in 2009. Two years later, they released their first recording, “Otter Creek,” which became the most played instrumental recording on the international folk-DJ radio charts. Brad’s original composition “Otter Creek” was the most played instrumental on the charts. Through performance and on the strength of Brad’s first recording, the recently named Strathmore Hall artist-in-resident and WAMU bluegrass country DJ has gained national recognition for his delicate touch and writing.
The Kolodners released “Skipping Rocks,” their second album, in September 2013. The recording “is both technically impressive and musically tasteful, a lovely exploration of both tradition and creativity (and of a warm musical relationship),” wrote Rick Anderson in CD Hotlist. “Skipping Rocks” debuted at #4 on the folk-DJ charts and in the top 20 on the roots music charts.
Eddy, after having spent 2008-2014 living in Stockholm, Sweden and traveling extensively throughout Europe playing old-time music, relocated back to West Virginia, her native state. While living five years in Stockholm she invigorated the Swedish old-time scene — yes, there is one! — inspiring dozens of people to learn Appalachian music and dance.
In addition to being a performer, Eddy is passionate about teaching. She has taught fiddle, banjo and guitar at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins West Virginia, at Sore Fingers Summer School in the United Kingdom, and various weekend workshops from the hills of West Virginia to Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, London and Wales. She has four full-length albums to her credit.
With these three talented musicians, expect to hear the best in fiddling, clawhammer banjo, hammered dulcimer and singing. It’s a rarity that musicians of this quality find their way to Vermont, especially this early in the touring season. Landmark Schoolhouse, home to traditional musicians Dana and Susan Robinson, is a wonderful performance venue with room for about 40 audience members.
You can hear a recording by the Kolodners at https://kenandbradkolodner.bandcamp.com.