Nationally recognized bluegrass artist to perform at OUS-Ironton

Published 11:04 am Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ken Kolodner, who hails from Baltimore, Maryland, and is recognized as one of the most influential hammered dulcimer players and old-time fiddlers in the U.S., will join forces with his son, Brad, a rising star in the clawhammer banjo world, in a performance of old-time music at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Ohio University Southern Collins Center Bowman Auditorium.

Tickets for this Ironton Council for the Arts subscription concert are $10 and may be purchased at the door. Students are admitted free with valid ID. Visit Ken’s web site at to learn more about the Kolodners and to watch video clips of selected performances.

Regarded as one of the most influential hammered dulcimer players and old-time fiddlers in the US, Baltimore’s Ken Kolodner has joined forces with his son Brad Kolodner, a rising star in the clawhammer banjo world to perform tight and musical arrangements of original and traditional old-time music with a “creative curiosity that lets all listeners know that a passion for traditional music yet thrives in every generation.”

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The duo started performing regularly as a duo in 2009 and in 2011, 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 rapidly gained national recognition for his delicate touch and writing.

Ken and Brad released “Skipping Rocks,” their second album, in September 2013. In its first month, it became the fourth most played recording on the Folk-DJ Charts. Their latest project “is both technically impressive and musically tasteful, a lovely exploration of both tradition and creativity (and of a warm musical relationship).” (CD Hotlist).

Concert appearances for the duo include The Kennedy Center, The Birchmere, The Champlain Valley Folk Festival, The Creative Alliance, three appearances at Helicon’s Winter Solstice concerts with Robin Bullock and Chris Norman, several appearances on the legendary “Bound for Glory” radio show in Ithaca, New York, (the longest running live concert-radio broadcast in the United States), The Common Ground Festival in Maryland, The Mountain Arts Gathering in New York, The Folk Society of Greater Washington, The Baltimore Banjo Showcase as well as numerous other live radio broadcasts, concerts and festivals along the eastern seaboard from North Carolina to Vermont to Wisconsin.

Among Ken Kolodner’s many credits are a featured solo in an Emmy-nominated CBS-TV Christmas special, over a dozen recordings with sales well over 150,000, an “Indie” winner for Best Seasonal Recording in 1999, a #1 World Music title (Walking Stones) and bestseller for BMG (with more than 55,000 copies sold), and numerous books and instructional recordings (including a book/CD on old time fiddling for Mel Bay and two books on playing the hammered dulcimer also for Mel Bay).

Ken toured with the world music trio Helicon for over a decade and continued to tour as a soloist. He was the first and remains the only U.S. player to be invited to play at the International Hackbrett Festival in Germany along with the world’s best players. His extensive repertoire of thousands of pieces includes the traditional music from over 30 countries on all continents.

Ken has performed in every state in the U.S. and teaches locally in Baltimore with over 75 fiddle and hammered dulcimer students. Music was not always in Ken’s vision. Kolodner graduated from Lawrence University in 1976 and a few years later pursued a career in public health, working on a PhD in epidemiology at The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. While in grad school, he taught himself first to play the fiddle by listening to recordings.

A few years later, he discovered the hammered dulcimer and quickly became recognized among a handful of the best in the U.S. Since completing his PhD at Hopkins, he has worked primarily as a musician (touring as many as 140 dates a year) but has continued to consult in public health, and has published widely with over 100 articles in medical journals.

Brad didn’t start playing music until age 17 when he attended a music camp where his father was teaching. After just two years, Brad won the 2010 Takoma Park Old-Time Banjo Festival (in MD) winning a Kevin Enoch banjo and a performance spot at The Birchmere, sharing the stage with banjo legend Tony Trischka, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Adam Hurt and other notable banjo players. In 2012, Brad won the prestigious Lowell Fiddle and Banjo Contest.

Most recently, Brad won the inaugural Banjo Hangout Clawhammer Banjo contest. His version of “Boatman” was the highest rated submission out of 69 entrants. Brad guest-recorded on Out of the Wood, a 2011 release by Elke Baker (a Scottish National Fiddle Champion) and his father. While a student at Ithaca College, Brad hosted a weekly folk radio show called “The Hobo’s Lullaby.”

In the summer of 2013, Brad signed on as the host of “The Brad Kolodner Show” a weekly bluegrass show on WAMU’s Bluegrass Country, a 24/7 bluegrass radio station in Washington D.C. Since graduating from Ithaca College in June of 2012, Brad has amassed a stable of over 30 banjo students in Baltimore. He has added fiddle, guitar and vocals to his repertoire.