Formed in 2006 by Todd Montgomery and Gayle Ellett, Fernwood has released three albums so far: Almeria, Sangita and Arcadia. They create contemporary acoustic music that is beautiful and elegant, with a strong cinematic and pan-cultural feel. By combining elements of pastoral acoustic music, with the sounds of Traditional American, Irish, Eastern European, Asian, and Middle Eastern music, and a laid-back Southern California vibe, the music of Fernwood is quite special. With a deliberate focus on composition, arrangements and orchestration, they have created a new Americana hybrid style that is uniquely their own.
Using an expanded palette of World instruments from which to choose from (actually a small orchestra consisting of 25 different acoustic stringed instruments largely invented before the mid-19th Century), Todd Montgomery and Gayle Ellett create instrumental acoustic music that is both familiar and exotic, lush and melodic, warm and inspirational.
Their music blends modern and classical music concepts, with the traditional sounds of Greek & Irish bouzouki, sitar, dilruba, quirquincho, Chinese ruan, Turkish cumbus, Moroccan oud, harmonium, gimbri, rababa, bulbul tarang, jal tarang, dotara, surmandal, tambura, manjira, tumbi, bugchu, gopichand, violin, mandolin, acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, tenor banjo, tenor ukulele, bells & chimes, acoustic piano, rhodes piano, upright bass, field recordings and other sounds. And then these exotic tones are used like paint, to create the dramatic visions of immense beauty that is the music of Fernwood.
And it is these qualities that make Fernwood the perfect antidote for our modern, stress-filled lives.
The music of Fernwood combines many seemingly disparate concepts into a unified whole. Ellett and Montgomery try to infuse their music with many apparently diverse qualities such as: traditional and modern, familiar and exotic, Americana and World, simple and complex, rural and urban, intellectual and emotional, etc, and they've succeeded at this very difficult task.
And as they always say "Please listen with quality headphones, you'll be glad you did!"
With Fernwood they've moved past their youthful desire to fill the music with impressive showy solos, and instead they are concentrating on creating compositions of great depth and intellectual integrity.
"One of the things we try to focus on, is our attempt to apply the artistic concept of theme and variation, to the many different elements of our music such as the rhythm, harmony and melody, but also to the dynamics, arrangements, orchestration and instrumentation. And in a way, its almost like we are a national orchestra ... for a missing country!" says Fernwood's Ellett.
Though the music of Fernwood sometimes has a frail and delicate sound, at other times it is extremely rich and dense, with as many as 50 instruments being used in a single composition, giving their music an almost symphonic sound.
Also, there is no compression or computer manipulation used on the recordings, so their music always has a very fresh, lively and organic sound.
The instrumental acoustic music of Fernwood has a strong autobiographical feel that accurately portrays a sense of who they are and where they live. Recorded in their Malibu studio, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, their music is a reflection of their lives in Southern California as well as the previous work they've done in the areas of Film and TV composition, Traditional World music, Rock and Jazz.
With Fernwood, Montgomery and Ellett have been able to go back to their roots, and their original love of the tone of a simple wooden instrument played in the afternoon sun.
TODD MONTGOMERY began experimenting with string instruments in the Fourth grade. Since then he has enjoyed learning to play such instruments as Irish bouzouki, sitar, mandolin and guitar. He spent his teen years in psychedeli rock bands until he discovered the folk music of America and Ireland. In search of deeper improvisation in an established tradition, he studied the sitar for many years with sitar master, Harihar Rao, who is Ravi Shankar's oldest student. Montgomery has performed on Irish bouzouki and mandolin for the movie, “Chasing the Dragon: The Veronica Guerin Story.” When he’s not playing music or playing with his wife and son, Montgomery can often be found surfing the waves off Malibu. You can find more information about him at: www.ToddMontgomeryMusic.com
GAYLE ELLETT has been composing and producing music for over 35 years and has performed on over 100 albums. Ellett has written music for numerous film projects including Brad Pitt’s “Year Of The Dog” and Will Farrell's "Everything Must Go". He has composed music for more then 50 different Television series, as well as for commercials, animations, computer games, music libraries, and other corporate applications. Having spent his early years growing up at his family's cattle ranch in rural New Mexico, Ellett has developed a great appreciation for the rural lifestyle. One of his main music groups, Djam Karet, has 17 CDs released so far, and has received great reviews and awards in hundreds of magazines world-wide, including Rolling Stone magazine’s “#2 Independent Album Of The Year” and Billboard’s “Critic's Choice Award.” Ellett’s traditional Japanese and Italian folk music can currently be heard on CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX, MTV, Bravo, Oxygen, Cartoon Network, PBS, Showtime, the Movie Channel and many other networks. You can find more information about him at: www.DjamKaret.com and www.GayleEllett.com