"Otter Creek" is the debut recording for my son Brad and I. With a father as a musician, Brad has been surrounded by traditional music his entire life. While he clearly loved music, until age 17, he showed relatively little interest in traditional music. In Brad's own words, "growing up in a music-filled household, I could hardly bear the sound of novice fiddle and hammered dulcimer students taking lessons from my father." Nonetheless, in August, 2007, my son attended his first music camp, the now defunct Meadowlark Music Camp in Maine where I had taught every summer for 14 years. Brad hasn't stopped playing since he took Richie Stearns' beginner clawhammer banjo class. It has been incredibly rewarding to see my son develop a passion for playing music, especially old-time, and for writing original music. And it is truly a special joy to play music with Brad and to release our first recording together. I have recorded well over a dozen CDs but none is more special to me than this one. This recording includes a mix of over 20 old time and originals including three of mine and six of Brad's. The remainder is largely a mix of standards (e.g. "Liza Jane/Sandy Boys/Hangman's," "Needle Case," "Blackberry Blossom") as well as some lesser known tunes drawn from our old time repertoire ("Snow Drop," "Home with the Girls in the Morning/Sally in the Garden," "Lonesome John"). Paul Oorts adds guitar backup on three tracks while fiddler Elke Baker joins me for some twin fiddling on one track. But for the most part, we chose to produce a recording largely without additional backup instruments. In embracing this transparency, we strove for a cohesive concept of the shape of the tunes by matching our swing, groove, syncopations, anticipations, dynamics and accenting, especially for the percussive pairing of the hammered dulcimer and the clawhammer banjo. In fact, my favorite sound on the recording is the percussive groove of the dampered hammered dulcimer with the clawhammer banjo. I use dampers throughout Brad's compositions "Otter Creek" and "Ithacan Ash" and on many other cuts. In "Ithacan Ash," I provide a backup groove throughout the entire track with the occasional foray into melody along with a unison pitch bend. We tried to vary the keys (banjos typically can only be played in one key in a medley of tunes), textures and instrumentation by using different combinations of the banjo, hammered dulcimer (dampered, plucking, using different hammers), fiddle, banjola and hammered mbira. Fiddling while recovering from hand surgery for a broken left hand and a torn ligament in my right thumb was an additional challenge but the CD also includes a few old time banjo/fiddle duets. For those not familiar with the banjola, it is sort of a wonderful blend between a cittern, guitar and banjo. Among my favorite tracks are Brad's compositions that feature the banjola such as "Rocky Beaches" and "Blue Mount Road." While I usually like to play free improvisations on the hammered mbira, we also include an improvised exploration of rhythm in Em that morphed into a tune which I called "Swift House." In releasing Brad's first recording, I hope that our shared joy and vision for playing comes across. Mostly, I hope you enjoy the tunes! -Ken Kolodner.