What to do Tonight: World music at the Frick

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If millionaire industrialist Henry Clay Frick were alive today, he'd probably be wondering: "What are all those people doing out on my lawn? And what's that infernal music they're listening to?"

Tonight marks the last First Friday at The Frick, the summer concert series concluding its 18th year.

"The first Friday of each summer month, we invite visitors to bring a picnic dinner -- they're allowed to bring drinks, set up their chairs or blankets on our lawn -- and enjoy a summer evening on the great lawn of the Frick," said Greg Langel, the museum's media and marketing manager.

Actually, the Frick is three museums. There's the Frick Art Museum, the Car and Carriage Museum, and the fabulous Clayton mansion, which served as the family estate. The 5.5 acres of lush Point Breeze property is bounded by Penn and South Homewood avenues and Lexington and Reynolds streets.

"First Fridays we view as a way for Pittsburgh residents to enjoy the Frick site in a different way," Mr. Langel said. "Rather than coming and going to the museum or The Cafe, this is a chance for people to enjoy our grounds, which are beautiful and well-maintained."

Some 3,000 or more folks usually turn out for the concerts. They bring their own food or purchase it from The Cafe.

The stage is set up near the mansion and has been host to a number of eclectic artists.

Tonight's visitors will hear Ancient Future, a California-based group that has been stretching the boundaries of world music more than 30 years.

"They are the first and longest-running musical organization dedicated exclusively to the mission of creating world fusion music," Mr. Langel said. (That comes right out of the news release on the group's website, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.)

" 'Ancient Future' is a genre term coined by band leader Matthew Montfort in 1978 to describe the unusual blend of stylistic elements from Africa, Bali, India, the Middle East, South America, Europe and Asia."

Mr. Montfort, the group's leader, plays the scalloped fretboard guitar, which he has pioneered. It's an instrument that is part South Indian vina and part steel-string guitar.

The other members of the band play more recognizable instruments.

Jim Hurley plays violin, incorporating styles from bebop to zydeco. Doug McKeehan is on keyboards. And Jim Santi Owen is on percussion. Of course, these aren't just any drums. Mr. Santi Owen marches to the beat of a tabla, a North Indian drum with goat-skin heads.

It comes together in a trend-setting sound that is all its own. Seriously, how often can you go out and eat fried chicken while listening to a style of music that was literally created by the people performing it?

Which isn't to suggest that the artists don't value the music's roots in the various cultures. They embrace the tradition, but they bring innovation.

"There is a suggested donation of $5 for adults. Children are free," Mr. Langel said. "We open the gates at 5:30, and we usually wrap up at about 9 p.m."

Check it out!

Get a preview of tonight's event!

Ancient Future: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0VHpZ3Np68

If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at dmajors@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1456.

music

This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To subscribe, go to http://www.post-gazette.com/trypittsburghpress/


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