Ken and Brad Kolodner with Alex Lacquement perform in Harrisburg on April 23rd

Brad, Ken and AlexThe dynamic father-son duo of Ken and Brad Kolodner, known for their tight and musical arrangements of original and traditional old-time music, come to Harrisburg on Saturday, April 23, 2016, for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert at 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street. The Kolodners will be joined on bass, banjo, and harmony vocals by Alex Lacquement. The concert is preceded by a free 6 p.m. potluck dinner.

The Kolodners weave together a captivating soundscape on hammered dulcimer, banjo, and fiddle, pushing the boundaries of the Old-Time tradition into uncharted territory. They infuse their own brand of driving, innovative, tasteful, and unique interpretations of traditional and original fiddle tunes and songs.

Preceding the concert is a free 6 p.m. potluck dinner. Bring a covered dish to share. Drinks and place settings will be provided. Concert tickets are $20 General Admission, $16 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online at or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at

BREAKING NEWS: Brad Kolodner + Alex Lacquement will be playing during Susquehanna Folk’s 2016-2017 series with their group Charm City Junction on January 19th. Keep an eye out for more information on the SFMS website!

I had to chance to speak to Brad about the band’s repertoire, the banjo style that he plays, the origins of the hammered dulcimer and playing in a father-son duo.


FOLKMAMA: Is this still a good time to talk?

BRAD: Yes it is. I’m just about arriving at the studios at WAMU where I do a weekly radio show. I actually studied television and radio in college and so one day a week I have this radio show down in D.C. It’s a three hour show where I play a mix of contemporary, progressive bluegrass, old-time music and I get to interview bands.

You can stream it online [(]. People listen to it in Germany, in Australia, Denmark…it’s cool .It’s a lot of fun and I get to use my degree a little bit, but mostly I play music full time and teach banjo and fiddle.

FOLKMAMA: You are coming to play for Susquehanna Folk on Saturday. What’s the music going to be like?

BRAD:  We play music that I would characterize as old time influenced, but we do take a lot of liberties with the tunes. We change the melodies a little bit and the chords, tempos, sort of breathe new life into the tunes that we play. Not necessarily try to restrict ourselves to the boundaries of what had traditional music is supposed to sound like.

It’s our own approach and takes into consideration that the banjo and the dulcimer are an unusual pairing of instruments. So we’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with how to bend the grove and keep on pushing that tradition forward.

FOLKMAMA: You play the clawhammer style banjo. Tell us what that means and how does it compare to the bluegrass style?

BRAD: The instrument itself isn’t any different-it’s still a 5 string banjo. The clawhammer is more about the way in which you pick the strings. In the old days clawhammer was actually the predominate style. It was the original style that has its roots back to Africa where the banjo came from. It’s very percussive; certainly more percussive than what is often heard from a banjo player in a bluegrass band.

‘Clawhammer’ actually refers to the shape of your hand when you play. I hold my hand like a claw and I don’t use any fingerpicks. It’s more strumming based, and less individual note picking whereas in the bluegrass style you use steel fingerpicks and it’s mostly single notes rather than strumming.

By far the most popular styles these days is the three finger bluegrass style but the clawhammer has had a bit of resurgence lately as old-time influences creep into more Americana and bluegrass music.

FOLKMAMA: Tell me about the hammered dulcimer. Where does it come from and where is it usually found?

BRAD: The hammered dulcimer is seen all over the world. It dates back thousands of years to Persia and it’s the predecessor to the piano. Essentially you open up a piano and bang on the strings with mallets. In our country the hammered dulcimer has been called “the lumberjack’s piano”. There is a common agreement that when it came to this continent it was first brought to the logging camps in Michigan and from there it made its way down to Appalachia.

So the hammered dulcimer is very old, but in its modern form in the US it’s more of a solo instrument. It’s not an instrument that you usually hear integrated into the old-time, bluegrass or Irish tradition. There really aren’t many players who perform on a large scale within the old-time tradition—just my dad and a few others. So as a duo, or trio, what we are doing is pretty unique.

FOLKMAMA: Tell me about Alex and how the bass fits into all this.

BRAD: Alex studies classical and jazz at the Eastman School of music up in Rochester, NY, but lately he’s really gotten into old-time and bluegrass. He adds a nice groove to our sound and helps to expand the sonic range so we get that really powerful bottom end.

As a player Alex is very versatile. He knows how to use the bow in really creative ways which is something that you don’t always hear in old time music. He does some interesting harmonies and can play fiddle tunes on the bass which is really cool.

FOLKMAMA: You’re a father-son duo. What’s that like?

BRAD: We really enjoy playing together. I have a lot of stories to tell the audience about growing up in a musical household and how my father is passing his music through me. Honestly, growing up and hearing the dulcimer all the time, it took me awhile to appreciate it and love it like I do now. We both play music full time and we’re primary performing partners now, so it’s really cool.


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