is a multi-instrumentalist living in Malibu, California, who began his music journey more than 40 years ago. Today, he plays the sitar, mandolin, Irish bouzouki, tenor banjo, and guitar. He is one half of the composing-recording team FERNWOOD, with Gayle Ellett of Djam Karet. The two have co-created three critically acclaimed records, Almeria (2008), Sangita (2009), and Arcadia (2015). Todd's primary musical focus has been learning various traditional music forms including Bluegrass, Traditional Irish music, and Classical Indian ragas. In Fernwood, he uses this knowledge to create a new type contemporary acoustic music.
ALL MUSIC PLAYED BY HAND...
ON INSTRUMENTS MADE OUT OF WOOD!
NEW for 2015:
Fernwood have just completed work on their new album Arcadia!
Released February 2nd 2015, and available on CD & LP NOW!
Frail and haunting, beautiful and dreamy, Gayle Ellett and Todd Montgomery's acoustic music has a sound that is both traditional and contemporary. Highly cinematic and with a strong pan-cultural vibe, they have created a new hybrid style that is uniquely their own. And it is these qualities that make the instrumental music of Fernwood the perfect antidote for the stresses of our modern life.
The title of Fernwood's new album: Arcadia, is loosely based on a narrative that suggests an endless search for an unspoiled wilderness of great beauty, a utopian paradise.
With 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 acoustic music that is both familiar and exotic, lush and melodic, warm and inspirational.
Their unique music combines 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. Authentic and honest, they play music the old-fashioned way: by hand. Formed in 2006, they have released three albums so far.
Their stunning new album Arcadia continues in the same direction and philosophy that the group has been pursuing for the past several years, but with an even grander vision. From their award-winning debut Almeria, to the critically acclaimed Sangita, their music is sophisticated and engaging. Its deeply beautiful acoustic music, with masterful compositions and dynamic orchestration, and an immense attention to detail, and it all comes together on this high-quality recording.
Arcadia is available as a Special Limited Edition LP of only 300 copies, pressed on 180 gram Audiophile-Quality vinyl, to the highest standards possible. Arcadia is also available on compact disc, and as a digital download.
Stay tuned for updates!
NEWS FLASH: Arcadia was chosen as the "#1 Album Of The Month" for February 2015, on nationally syndicated radio show Echoes!!
Click on the link below to see the video, and read more: ECHOES Radio Album Of The Month: Fernwood
You can buy the music of FERNWOOD on the links at the top & bottom of this page.
* FERNWOOD's second album: Sangita (2009)
"Tone continues, time expires."
Following on the heels of their widely heralded debut release Almeria, Ferwood's second album Sangitais a 12-track offering that greatly expands upon their previous work.
The name "Sangita" is a vague reference to the Sangita-Ratnakarna, an 800 year old book by music theorist Sharngadeva. This massive tome (which translates into "Ocean Of Music") covers the many varied styles of music performed in India, and also detailed descriptions of the wide range of instruments they played. And although the acoustic music on Fernwood's Sangita is not overly influenced by Indian music, it is in fact a melding of many ethnic and modern styles, and utilizes a large collection of exotic instruments and sounds in their search for beautiful music.
SOUND ON SOUND Magazine said "Fernwood conjure up an image of a Sitar-toting Chinese cowboy wandering through the Appalachian mountains, sailing the seven seas, and fighting dragons. The music isn’t as confused as my imagination, but it is evocative, and much more cinematic than most World music out there.”
New Fernwood Compilation CD with Al Di Meola (2009)
"Still: Echoes-Echoes Living Room Concerts Volume 15"
John Diliberto said of this CD "Every time I put on Still: Echoes, I feel like I’m being taken on a trip to lands exotic and familiar, a wonderful communion of sound, spirit and musical adventure. But we never let contemplation get in the way of a little exuberance and that’s what your get with Fernwood’s ”Open Seas.” Along with the Al Di Meola track, it’s the pivot point of the album with it’s blend of Indian sitar, bouzouki and mandolin taking us to a high of energy and joy. Take the trip yourself."
* FERNWOOD's debut release: ALMERIA(2008)
Almeria was chosen as ECHOES Radio "Number 4 ALBUM OF THE YEAR"!!!
GUITAR PLAYER Magazine described the music as "Wonderfully melodic, expertly layered, masterfully interwoven, luscious yet rootsy.”
RECORDING Magazine said "They have skillfully managed to combine numerous stringed instruments, many with competing frequency ranges, into an open, airy mix that leaves space for each individual sound source, while maintaining a full cohesive feel, free of artifact and digital “nasties.” Relax and enjoy! Well done! And Highly Recommended!"
FERNWOOD's MUSIC on TV:
Their music can be heard on such TV series as "Strange Sex" and "Equitrekking" among others. Fernwood's haunting melodies added a special vibe to the CNN International TV commercials for CNN's "A Stand In The Sinai" documentary. They can also be heard on The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Oprah's OWN, and on additional networks throughout Europe, Canada, and South America.
Fernwood's music can be heard locally on KCRW-FM, throughout the country on National Public Radio and ECHOES Radio, and internationally on Public Radio International and Radio Centraal, and on hundreds of other stations throughout the world.
ECHOES Radio "#1 Album Of The Month" (Arcadia) for February 2015!!! ECHOES Radio "#1 Album Of The Month" (Sangita) for September 2009!!! ECHOES Radio "Number 4 ALBUM OF THE YEAR" (Almeria) for 2008!!! ECHOES Radio Show's "Top 25 CD Of The Month" (Almeria) for NINE months in a row: March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November 2008!!! www.ECHOES.org..
Digitally recorded in Malibu and Topanga.
Here are some "Bullet Point Reviews" ... the full reviews are on the following pages.
"Sangita is most rewarding and truly brilliant, a genuine masterpiece."
MUSIC STREET JOURNAL
"Fernwood creates a global chamber music with Americana accents and cinematically inclined melodies."
"Almeria" was chosen as the "Number 4 ALBUM OF THE YEAR"!!!
"One of those rare albums that probably will remain with you for a lifetime of appreciation."
"On their debut Almeria, they established the template for a global Americana music, mixing banjo and bouzouki, sitar and mandolin into a soundscape that's as sweet as a country fiddle tune and as beguiling as a raga, creating a gentle, slightly surreal sound like a music box with Indian tines being cranked in the Ozarks."
John Diliberto of ECHOES RADIO
"Fernwood conjure up an image of a Sitar-toting Chinese cowboy wandering through the Appalachian mountains, sailing the seven seas, and fighting dragons....much more cinematic than most world music out there."
SOUND ON SOUND Magazine (United Kingdom)
"Writing, arranging and performances are of the highest order...
"Gayle Ellet and Todd Montgomery, are obviously extremely talented, but use their talents at the service of the compositions, rather than showing off their chops."
AMOEBA MUSIC (Music We Like)
"Each piece has a cinematic feel but is complete in itself, the sounds all slot satisfyingly into place, and the album makes a cohesive, diverse and very rewarding listen."
fROOTS (Folk Roots) Magazine (Ireland)
"As a listener I was kept enthralled, as each track opened new possibilities. An enchanting, beautiful and captivating aural pleasure."
Conclusion: 9 out of 10
DUTCH PROGRESSIVE ROCK PAGES (Holland)
"Solemn, progressive and crystal-clear produced world-music."
iO PAGES (Holland)
"Almeria is a breath of fresh air and is a welcome alternative to today's electronic and synth dominated music."
"Theirs is the kind of music one can sail away on. It swirls and flows in unexpected and delightful harmonies"
"Progressive" in the purest sense of the term."
SEA OF TRANQUILITY
"It's cowboy, it's jazz, it's Oriental. Absolutely enchanting, a brilliant mix of interesting textures and layers of exotic acoustic timbers. A tantalizing taste of otherworldly aural delight."
"The music is melodic, carefully arranged, always holds your attention and is at all times accessible; wholeheartedly recommended."
"These compositions are remarkably bewitching, whether the song is expressing cerebral introspection or frivolous exuberance. An agility is found here, not just in the performance but in the melodies, communicating a joyous celebration of life with brisk effervescence."
"Fans of prog, folk, roots, world and jazz music should discover plenty to enjoy here, as each song provides its own distinct sound. 5 out of 5 Stars"
SEA OF TRANQUILITY
"As an acoustic instrumental album, its concentration on melody rather than technique, rhythm, musical cliches or conformity, makes it one of the most different, satisfying and gorgeous albums of its kind around today."
DEAD EARNEST (Scotland)
"The technical expertise required to play all of these instruments as well as the musical vision to combine everything in such a wonderful manner is quite breathtaking... the results are rather beautiful."
DUTCH PROGRESSIVE ROCK PAGES (Holland)
"The structure of the individual compositions is as complex as anything conventionally labelled as "progressive"....Sangita is a beautiful slice of eclectic, wide-ranging music, a finely-crafted album, born of the staunch dedication of Ellett and Montgomery to their art."
"Very different from all of the other instrumental albums I’ve heard, and I welcome that very much."-PROGGIES
"Excellently performed and produced, Arcadia is an album that will find my CD player many many times, and for a long while to come."-PROGGNOSIS
"It's timeless - this will sound every bit as good in 25 years time as it does now - music from the past, performed in the present, that will last well into the future"-THE REVIEWS THAT MATTER
Our new CD "Arcadia", and also "Sangita" and "Almeria" are available at:
and other fine outlets.
* You can buy "Arcadia" on Limited Edition Vinyl LP, directly from the band here on Paypal.
The price is $20 AND it also includes a free digital-download! (plus $3 shipping in USA, and $17 shipping to Europe)
* You can buy "Arcadia" on CD directly from the band here on PayPal.
The price is $14 (plus $3 shipping in USA, and $10 shipping to Europe).