Saturday, September 20, 2014

Appalachian Festival: Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son

There were many performances by Appalachian and folk musicians at the Appalachian festival which was located at Frostburg State University on Saturday September 20, 2014. The Appalachian festival has been held at FSU for 9 years and began on Thursday September 18, 2014 and lasted for 3 days. The festival is a “family-friendly” event that highlights the history, culture, and food of the area .At 2:30 in front of Sowers Hall, a father son duo from Baltimore named Ken and Brad Kolodner contributed to the list of folk performers for the day .Unlike last year’s Appalachian festival-which got rained out-this year it was a beautiful day and a perfect day to hear the musical styling’s of the Kolodner’s.
The Kolodner men played four different instruments during their performance which included the banjo, gorud banjo, violin, and hammer dulcimer. Ken and Brad began their performance on two different instruments; Ken on the hammer dulcimer and Brad on the banjo. Brad informed me that the banjo and hammer dulcimer are not traditionally played together, which was very interesting considering how fluid the instruments sounded together. The part of the performance that was most exciting began with what Ken calls the “Twin Fiddles,” which is where they both play the violin. After a minute of them playing the violin together Brad stopped playing the violin while Ken played what appeared to be a solo. Then, Brad put his banjo on and continued playing along with Ken’s violin. The instrumental switch continued when Ken eventually stopped playing the violin and Brad soloed on the banjo. Eventually Ken jumped back in with the hammer dulcimer and they ended the way they began.
Ken and Brad’s obvious musical chemistry and cool vibe made many people at the festival gradually gravitate towards them. They mostly caught the attention of an older audience that really enjoyed their instrumental twist of “Old Time” music. There was also a hand full of Frostburg State University students who also enjoyed the Kolodner’s music. An FSU student, as well as Frostburg native, named Meghan had seen Ken and Brad perform at the festival before and truly enjoyed how they “were keeping alive folk music by sticking to the traditional sound”. A foreign exchange student from England named Annalise said it was “not what she expected” because she liked how their music “didn’t sound old like it was just for older people because they made it feel modern”. Regardless of the age everyone that was watching happily bobbed their heads and tapped their feet to the Kolodner’s tunes.

After their performance I was able to speak with the very friendly Kolodner men who gave me a little more information on their instrumental twist on folk as well as how they began their duo. Although Ken has been playing music professionally for 30 years and Brad has been playing professionally for 7 years they have only been playing as a duo for 5 years. They began performing at the Appalachian festival 4 years ago when they were approached by a local radio personality. Throughout their performance the Kolodner’s played about 7 songs off of their 2 albums together titled “Outer Creek”, and “Skipping Rocks”. After their performance the Kolodner’s were selling both of their albums and conversing with the audience members. If you would like to listen to the Kolodner’s or learn more about them you can visit their website,

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