Scottish National Fiddle Champion Elke Baker and one of the countries’ best hammered dulcimer players and old-time fiddler Ken Kolodner join forces after years of performing together in a recording of original and traditional music from Scotland, Ireland, Appalachia, Quebec and beyond. We are joined by Kolodner’s son Brad on clawhammer banjo for a set of twin-fiddling old-time tunes and by Eric Eid-Reiner on several sets of Quebecois and Cape Breton music.
“I’ve admired Elke Baker’s playing for many years. Elke is a great listener who plays with an energy and musicality matched only by her love and respect of traditional music. Living in the same area, I have been fortunate to perform with Elke for 15 years or so. We come from different traditional music backgrounds which makes playing together very exciting. Often after a performance, we would inevitably discuss recording together one of these days. ‘One of these days’ has finally arrived!”
“I first met Ken Kolodner at a festival in Baltimore in the 1990’s. I was immediately impressed by the depth of Ken’s musicality and the range of expression he has with the dulcimer. Ken’s playing challenges me to think about bass lines and chords, countermelodies and rhythms. Our repertoires overlap enough to make it easy to find common ground, and differ enough to introduce me to a vast landscape of fresh musical styles that I’ve always wanted to learn more about.”
Ken Kolodner is widely recognized as one of “one of today’s most accomplished, musical hammered dulcimer artists...” (Elderly) and a fine old-time fiddler. As a soloist and in ensembles with Helicon (with Chris Norman and Robin Bullock), Greenfire (with Laura Risk), with Elke Baker, his son Brad, and many others, Ken has performed for over 25 years. As one of the most influential hammered dulcimer players in the U.S., Ken is a fixture at music camps and festivals all over the U.S. He has been featured numerous times on NPR, The Thistle and the Shamrock, All Things Considered, the CBC, the Voice of America, German National Radio, and countless radio shows. Among his many credits are a featured solo in an Emmy-nominated CBS-TV Christmas special, over a dozen recordings, an “Indie” winner and a #1 World Music title (“Walking Stones”) and bestseller for BMG (with over 55,000 copies sold), and numerous books and instructional recordings (including a book/CD on old time fiddling for Mel Bay). Ken’s “world-class” (Sing Out!) playing has been described as "nothing short of astonishing" (The Connection), “outstanding” (The New York Times), “marvelous” (The Washington Post), “virtuosic” (Audio), “stunning in its musicality” (Dulcimer Player News) and “not to be missed” (USA TODAY). In 2011, Ken released a recording of original and traditional old time music (“Otter Creek”) with his son Brad, with Elke as a guest.
Elke Baker is a U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, “and it's easy to hear why” (SingOut!). The Washington Post wrote, “Baker's fiddle nearly throws off sparks,” while Celtic Beat unequivocally stated, “for goodness sake, should Elke Baker appear in your area, make sure you attend one of her concerts!” As a soloist and with Ken Kolodner, Terpsichore (with Liz Donaldson and Ralph Gordon) and many others, Elke has performed all over North America, Japan, Ireland, West Africa, and Scotland, as well as closer to home at the Birchmere (with Ken) and the Kennedy Center. In addition to serving as Music Director of the Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club since 1993, Elke has been a faculty member at the Washington Conservatory of Music and Artist-in-Residence at Montgomery College. The Washington Post was “impressed by the rhythmic energy and deep emotions that Baker generates with her bow”; and Gazette Papers predicted that “The surgeon general will slap the mandatory warning sign on her forehead: ‘Warning: Scottish fiddle playing can be addictive and cause toes to tap.’” Elke’s playing has been described as “soulful”, “delightful” and “intriguing" (The Washington Post), “wonderful listening—highly recommended” (Scottish Fiddle News) and “some of the greatest Scottish music to be heard anywhere” (TACSound). Praised as “a CD of rare delight, precise technical skill, and fullness of soul” (Celtic Beat), her Over the Border CD was featured in the soundtrack of the movie The Boyhood of John Muir.