You'll notice that the Kolodners play in lock step, like they have a uniquely deep connection, and that's because they do: they are father and son.
“Playing as a father-son duo feels very natural,” says Brad Kolodner, who plays banjos, fiddle and adds vocals. “Besides being musical partners, we’re great friends. When we’re rehearsing, jamming, performing on stage or in the recording studio, we’re always locked in. Our musical sensibilities are very aligned.”
Widely regarded as one of the most accomplished hammered dulcimer players in the US, Ken Kolodner shines more than ever on Skipping Rocks. His gentle groove is the calm water over which Brad’s percussive banjo skips.
Drawing extensively from the canon of Appalachian old-time music, the duo can blaze through a melody with wicked precision or carefully deconstruct a tune, such as “John Brown’s March,” with inventive new arrangements. They also compose new songs to add to the tradition, such as Brad’s “The Orchard,” and Ken’s “The Reunion,” each with a backstory that you can almost hear through the notes.
The overall sound of the album is comforting and familiar, perhaps because the tracks were recorded in the Kolodners’ living room. “There was something very special about recording our album in the house where my father raised me,” says Brad. “My father and I will stay up some nights until the wee hours playing tunes in our living room. Being able to capture those magical jams in the same living room was ideal.”
From the faint creaks in the worn floorboards to the chirps of the tree swallows outside the window, the Kolodner's latest album brings us right into their lives. Even the below track, which was recorded in a studio, exudes a familial warmth, but don't take my word for it. Give a listen, and let us know: does Skipping Rocks make you feel at home?
* Post adapted from Hearth Music media release.