Ancient Future Times

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Ancient Future Times: Secret Code for the Future

May 2019 Issue:

Future40 Secret Code
•40% Off Tix for 5/26/19 @ SFIAF

Guitar A.F.A.R.
•First Recording of Martin Scalloped Fretboard Guitar

World Fusion for the Future
•Movement Needs Young People

Honoring the Departed
•In the Ancient Future Beyond

Free Sonoma County Library Concert Series
•Each Concert Program Features Different Material!

Future40 Secret Code

World Without Walls Album Cover

40% Off Tix for 5/26/19 @ SFIAF

Ancient Future 'World Without Walls' Reunion Concert

Ancient Future Photo Circa 1990 by Irene Young
Photo by Irene Young of Ancient Future circa 1990

Sunday, May 26, 2019, 5 PM
San Francisco International Arts Festival
Gallery 308, Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94109
Tix: $25 general. $30 reserved table, $35 reserved front table, $15 youth 17 and under.
Box office: 415-345-7575.
40% Off Tix (Enter Discount Code Future40 at Checkout Through May 11)
Press Release
Invite Friends on Facebook

SFIAF Poster
(1.1 MB .pdf)

The exact lineup of Ancient Future that performed on the band's influential World Without Walls and Asian Fusion recordings will reunite to perform at the San Francisco International Arts Festival. The reunion show features the original lineup of Matthew Montfort on scalloped fretboard guitar, Jim Hurley on violin, Doug McKeehan on keyboards, and Ian Dogole on percussion, plus Kash Killion on bass.

This lineup of Ancient Future played over a hundred concerts together from 1988 to 1995. In 2011, they reunited for the first time in 15 years to perform concerts at Todos Santos Plaza in Concord and Yoshi's in San Francisco. In honor of the reunion concerts, World Without Walls was re-released by Capitol Records. Twenty two years after its initial 1990 release, broadcasters worldwide voted the record as one of the top 5 world music releases of 2012. This show at the San Francisco International Arts Festival will be their fifth reunion concert.

'World Without Walls' Reunion Video

Bookenka Youtube Video
YouTube Video of Ancient Future Performing Bookenka at 'World Without Walls' Reunion

"Ancient Future is a rare kind of band that might simultaneously aggravate purists, confound New Age dilettantes, seduce skeptics, and dazzle just about everybody else. Delicious compositions, intricate arrangements, crisp playing and impeccable production put these ambitious voyagers in a league of their own." - Derk Richardson, SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN

Releases Featuring This Lineup

World Without Walls CD CoverAsian Fusion CD CoverPlanet Passion CD Cover

World Without Walls by Ancient Future (Sona Gaia/MCA 163).
Asian Fusion by Ancient Future (Narada Equinox ND-63023).
Planet Passion by Ancient Future (Ancient-Future.Com AF 2010).

Guitar A.F.A.R.

Matthew Montfort's Custom Martin Scalloped Fretboard GuitarScalloped Fretboard Detail

First Recording of Martin Scalloped Fretboard Guitar

Montfort's custom guitar is the result of a collaboration between Montfort, Dick Boak of the Artist Relations Department of C.F. Martin & Co., and San Francisco luthier Alan Perlman. Starting in 2014, Dick Boak worked with Montfort to help design the instrument, which features a very large sound hole to add volume, an extra upper bout sound hole so that Montfort can hear the guitar better, a cutaway with extra frets protruding into the sound hole to accommodate his extended playing range, and a short scale yet wide neck to allow for greater string bending capability. Master luthier Alan Perlman scalloped the fretboard and added other finishing touches to complete this amazing instrument in 2016.

The instrument is now broken in, and the first recording featuring it is in the works. The rehearsals for the Ancient Future's 40th Anniversary Concert helped put a focus on a new 30-minute suite in production for the Archive of Future Ancient Recordings, Ancient Future's fan funded recording project that already includes over 86 minutes of music available exclusively to supporters.

Hundreds of hours have already gone into the composition, rehearsal, pre-production, and recording some of the guitar tracks for this new piece by Matthew Montfort. Beyond Kalyan is based on Rag Kalyan, but takes it in new directions, even altering the basic recipe for the raga, hence the title. It is a very expansive, emotional, and difficult to perform piece.

The focus of A.F.A.R. this spring will be recording Mindia Devi Klein's bansuri flute and Vishal Nagar's tabla tracks. Right now, we need to raise funds to pay musicians so that they can carve out time to practice their parts and record them. Please sign up to support the project and receive tracks as they are created!

You can also make a tax deductible donation through InterMusic SF to support new compositions and recordings.

World Fusion for the Future

Hands and Globe

Movement Needs Young People

As of this moment, all types of virtuoso instrumental music are suffering from a lack of young audience members. At concerts of top performers in jazz, classical, and world music, there is a lot of gray hair in the audience. There are very few people in their 20s, 30s, or 40s, and often the few in those age groups turn out to be musicians themselves.

In honor of our 40th year of world fusion, we recently embarked on cleaning up the Ancient Future postal list in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in the process found the vital statistics that are compiled in the chart below:

Scary Chart

Age Group Fans in Group
< 40 2.4%
40's 6.5%
50's 20.2%
60's 41.1%
70's 23.3%
>80 6.6%

Young Musicians

Music pedagogy has come a long way since Ancient Future was formed, and we are producing wonderful young virtuoso performers. But we've cut music education in public schools, so new musicians are coming from those few school districts who have found a way to keep music programs, or families that can afford to pay for private lessons. But there aren't many performance opportunities for young performers because we haven't also developed an audience with musical knowledge. People need to be exposed to the elements of music to develop an interest in the higher forms of the art, and if that exposure doesn't happen in the formative years, music loses its base.

Americana in the Age of Polarization

In the past decade or so, Americana has enjoyed a resurgence at music festivals, venues, and radio shows, with young musicians joining the ranks. This has been a bright spot in music. However, since 9/11, support for world music has declined in America. Americana shows have replaced many world music shows on public radio, and even supposedly left leaning outlets like KPFA have cut world music programming. While it is important to keep Americana alive, it should not be at the expense of opening up people to music from cultures other than their own. World music can help alleviate the fear of "the other" that is so prevalent in public discourse today. America has always been a melting pot, so Americana shows should embrace American-made world fusion music. But they tend to favor music with a lot of Irish influence, undervalue the role of African music in American music forms, and ignore Asian influenced music altogether.

What You Can Do About It

  1. Take younger relatives and friends to concerts.
  2. Share playlists of high quality world fusion music. Free streaming should be abolished due to absurdly low artist payments, so it is best to purchase music. But streaming is how young people experience music, so we need to reach them before it is too late for an interest in higher art forms to develop. That said, streaming is a low quality music experience, and the subtleties of high level music get lost between data compression and lo-fi phones. This is quite a puzzle to fix. For now, here are some playlists to share:
    1. World Music Connections. World fusion music and the traditional music that inspired it side by side.
    2. Indian Guitar. Guitarists working in Indian music utilizing everything from slides to scalloped fretboards.
    3. Interspecies Music. Intriguing music influenced by interspecies interactions and nature, from live jams with Pacific tree frogs from Ancient Future's Natural Rhythms to elephants playing instruments!
    4. World Jazz. Jazz that influenced Ancient Future along with some more recent world jazz recordings.
    5. Asian Fusion. World fusion music with Asian themes.
  3. Send younger friends to the music education pages at Ancient-Future.Com.
  4. Contact your local public radio station and ask them to bring back world music shows.

Honoring the Departed

Phil Fong. From color photo by Geoffrey Chandler

Photo of Phil Fong Circa 1979 by Geoffrey Chandler

In the Ancient Future Beyond

Updating Ancient Future's mailing list resulted in almost 100 sad discoveries of fans of Ancient Future who have passed away, including the loss of visionary artist and musician Geoffrey Chandler (1951-2017), who took three of the photos on Ancient Future's first recording, Visions of a Peaceful Planet, including the above photo (originally in beautiful color, but the original is hopefully to be found buried deep in the Ancient Future archives) of original member Phil Fong (1954-2016). Also in the ancient future beyond are composer and flautist Randy Mead (1954-2012), who is prominently featured on the Quiet Fire release, and Mahanaim Satya (1945-2010), a noted jazz musician and producer who held down the bass at a number of Ancient Future concerts in the early 80's.

We've just received the very difficult news that Elias Lammam, Arabic accordion master and brother of Ancient Future performers Antoine and Georges Lammam, passed away on April 23 after suffering an aneurysm on stage during a tour in Florida. This is a huge loss to the music world and our musical community. Our deep condolences go out to his family.

YouTube Video of Elias Lammam

We want to honor all of our departed fans and fellow musicians by passing the torch to future generations and working to bring more young people into the world fusion music movement.

Free Sonoma County Library Concert Series

Matthew Montfort (scalloped fretboard guitar) and Shenshen Zhang (pipa) on youtube
YouTube Video of Very First Meeting of Matthew Montfort and Shenshen Zhang

Each Concert Program Features Different Material!

Ancient Future bandleader and scalloped fretboard guitar pioneer will be joined by master musicians from many traditions for this series of hour long free concerts at libraries in Sonoma County. Each show will feature different material from recordings by Matthew Montfort, Ancient Future, and the master musicians he is performing with. Press Release.