Consider it part of the paradox of post-modernism that Future Music, a store specializing in vintage instruments, could serve as the locus for some of L.A.'s most forward-thinking musicians. Indeed, everyone from Stones Throw stalwarts Dam Funk and Peanut Butter Wolf to avant-garde soulsters Sa-Ra, Smell staple Nite Jewel, and indie-rockers Random Patterns and Division Day regularly frequent the Highland Park institution, known for its peerless prices and selection, and its owner Jack Waterson, an engineer member of seminal Paisley Underground-affiliated band, Green on Red. Speaking with Waterson, you instantly glean not only an encyclopedic knowledge of instruments made prior to the MIDI revolution in 1983, but a paternal care impossible to find at a big box music store. “It's all about inspiration — helping people find a guitar or a keyboard where songs immediately start flying out. It's about connecting musicians with something that ignites the fire in them,” says Waterson. “Selling musical instruments is more personal than selling underwear. You have to see how it speaks to their ears, their eyes and the creative parts of their soul.” In the summer months, Waterson rigs a notoriously monstrous sound system in the back garden and books shows — with the goal to pair unlikely acts together, and each band only allowed 20-minute sets. In business for more than a decade and with an impeccable reputation in the community, the future looks bright. 5112 York Blvd., Highland Park. (323) 344-0029,

—Jeff Weiss

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