Catalpa Hop video from Brad Kolodner

Photo of Brad Kolodner by Casey Vock. Album art by Kelley Wills

Brad Kolodner is a popular figure in the music scene of the Baltimore/Washington region. The noted clawhammer banjoist is the son of another well-known old time musician, Ken Kolodner, hosts a weekly program on the Bluegrass Country steaming service, and plays with the eclectic and original Baltimore-based string band, Charm City Junction. In all these facets of his career, Brad is part of the clique of younger old time artists pushing the music in new directions.

This summer he is releasing a new solo project as well, Chimney Swifts, recorded during the pandemic shutdowns of 2020. It includes what Kolodner describes as “private music,” the sort of tunes that a player delves into when they pick up their instrument and just play. There are both original and traditional pieces, some solo banjo, others in duet or group settings, incorporating sounds from the old time, bluegrass, and Celtic styles.

Today he has offered a video performance of one of the tracks from Chimney Swifts, an original composition called Catalpa Hop, which he says was inspired by a large tree in his yard, one that we knew growing up as a cigar tree.

“In my front yard stands an impressive Catalpa tree that looms over my house. It produces gorgeous white blooms in the spring, massive leaves through the summer, and extra long bean pods which all create quite a mess – but I love the tree and the sense of calm it provides amidst life in the city. I wrote this melody while sitting on the porch playing banjo, something I do most days I’m home. There’s certainly a hint of Bill Monroe’s Wheel Hoss in the C part of the tune. I must’ve had that one in my head while writing this one!”

Brad is accompanied here by Patrick McAvinue on mandolin, Lucas Chohany on guitar, and Alex Lacquement on bass.

Chimney Swifts is set for a September 10 release. Pre-orders for the CD are available now online. It will be offered for pre-save at digital outlets soon.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.