This new and, in their own words, neo-traditional CD from Ken and Brad Kolodner (father and son) is subtitled Original And Traditional Appalachian Old-Time Music. They play a mix of original and traditional tunes on a variety of instruments. For example, the first cut “The Orchard” is an original by Brad, who plays banjo with Ken on hammered dulcimer, Robin Bullock on guitar, and Alex Lacquement on bass. Elke Baker plays viola on “Grub Springs” and fiddle on a medley of “The Cowboy Waltz”/“Tombigbee’s Waltz.” Kagey Parrish sings backup on one song. Ken switches to fiddle on “Down On My Knees” with Brad singing lead in a reedy voice. “John Brown’s March,” “Billy In The Lowground,” “Ruben’s Train,” and the title-cut (written by Brad) return to the banjo and hammered dulcimer format. Ken wrote “The Reunion,” a lovely tune featuring double fiddle as does “Lost Indian.” The other original tune, Brad’s “Caspian’s Dream,” features banjo and guitar. The Kolodners’ “Boatman” starts as a more traditional sounding fiddle/banjo tune, though both instruments break out of those confines before the end with a few unusual chords and melodic changes.
So, what does neo-traditional mean? In this case, it means multiple departures from and extensions to tradition. First, there are many unusual combinations of instruments. Second is a willingness to play with the tempo and feel of the tunes. To give one example, “Grub Springs” is a hard-driving Mississippi fiddle tune from W.E. Claunch, but here it has a relaxed, almost dreamy sound. The neo-traditional genre has become popular enough to have a separate band contest at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, W.Va. The Kolodners and their collaborators play with impeccable chops and with great feeling, so whether or not this music will appeal to you depends on how open you are to traveling off the beaten path into new musical regions. (Ken Kolodner, 3806 Fenchurch Rd., Baltimore, MD 21218, www.kenkolodner.com.)SAG