After six years of sold-out concerts at the Stony Run Friends Meeting House, the Ken & Brad Kolodner Quartet and Charm City Junction are taking their show on the road. The two bands will perform their brand of what Ken Kolodner calls “progressive old-time music” on Nov. 30 at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts in Owings Mills. Kolodner, a Guilford resident whose hammered dulcimer and fiddle playing was called “stirring … evocative” by the Washington Post, recently spoke with Jmore.
When did you discover music?
After college, I decided to get my Ph.D. in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University. During that time, I started playing fiddle and I really liked it. When I finished my degree, I had to decide, ‘Am I going to look for a job in the public health field or am I going to play music?’ I decided to mostly play music, but also to consult with faculty at Hopkins about their research.
I formed a band with musicians Chris Norman and Robin Bullock called Helicon. We’ve ceased touring as a band, but we still do an annual winter solstice concert at Goucher College. This year will be the 30th.
What was your upbringing like?
I grew up in Mount Washington, attended Cross Country Elementary School and Friends School. Both my parents were Jewish. We belonged to Har Sinai [Congregation] and I had a bar mitzvah.
What’s it like playing with your son, Brad?
Much to my surprise and delight, my son, at the age of 17, decided to pick up the banjo. It’s very special, exciting and fun to be able to perform with Brad and see what kind of musician and person he’s become.
Describe your music.
We play what I like to call a progressive form of old-time. Old-time Appalachian music is a hybrid between Irish and Scottish music with African rhythms. It preceded bluegrass, which started in the 1940s. We take old tunes, but we recast the music in a modern aesthetic. People who hear us play will come away saying, ‘How did I not know about this kind of music?’
What can we expect from your Gordon Center show?
The primary focus for the Ken & Brad Kolodner Quartet is old-time with hammered dulcimer and claw hammer banjo, but we also include gourd banjo, hammered mbira, twin fiddles, vocals and more. Rachel Eddy, on fiddle and vocals, and Alex Lacquement, on bass and banjo, play with us. Charm City Junction combines the talents of Brad and Alex with button accordionist Sean McComiskey and fiddler Patrick McAvinue. The band combines elements of bluegrass, Irish and old-time.
For information, visit gordoncenter.com.
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