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Dr John McGrath is an Irish guitarist, writer and educator based in London. 

His music explores the boundaries of the ancient and modern as traditional elements meet improvisation and experimental tendencies. McGrath's compositions (available from Crooked Stem Recordings) have been featured in The Wire, RTE Radio 1, BBC Radio, aired on several television programmes, and sounded at Tate Modern and FACT.  A professional guitarist from the age of 17, John has performed thousands of gigs including in ensembles with Dustin Wong, Sharon Gal, Cavalier Song, History of Harry, Black Snow Rodeo, Tequila Sunrise, Rhys Chatham, Howard Skempton and the aPAtT Orchestra. Recent session work includes two records with The Unattached (Gare du Nord). McGrath has been commissioned to write for the IMMIX ensemble and performed new music alongside large arrangements of his work with the group. As a solo performer John has performed at various festivals and has supported Richard Dawson, Gwenifer Raymond, Laraaji and Sun Araw. Recent appearances include a solo set at King's Place, London.

McGrath has authored a monograph with Routledge entitled, Samuel Beckett, Repetition and Modern Music (2018) (which has received positive reviews in The Wire, Music & Letters and Burning Ambulance), writes regularly on music, and is a Senior Lecturer in Music at University of Surrey where he is also Deputy Director of the International Guitar Research Centre (IGRC) and Head of Performance. Other recent publications investigate the transmedial work of Laurie Anderson and David Lynch in addition to practice research on glitch aesthetics and avantfolk. In 2014, John was awarded a PhD in music from University of Liverpool, which was funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council. John is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a consultant for guitar pedagogy on Learn to Play: Computational Assessment of Musical Playability for Users' Practice (AHRC). He is co-editor of the collection 21st Century Guitar for Bloomsbury (2023) and is currently working with Alan F. Moore on a monograph about English Folk Song.

"McGrath is like a jeweler, crafting small but perfectly formed pieces that tempt you to pick them up and hold them to the light, just to get a better glance."

Bill Meyer, Dusted Magazine

"His experimental approach, reminiscent of Jim O’Rourke, pushes at the boundaries of new guitar music and the UK avant folk scene."

The Wire

"Bringing a touch of the 21st century to the guitar soli scene..."

Tyler Wilcox, Aquarium Drunkard

"Bringing to mind the likes of Owen Pallett and Grizzly Bear, John McGrath is an artist capable of balancing classical and folk textures to great effect." The Skinny

"Not only capable of channeling Britfolk greats as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn or Michael Chapman, he can also pick like John Fahey and his fellow American primitives."

For The Sake Of The Song

“his clutch of haunted icy soundscapes sounds very much like wandering around half-remembered wintry dreams.”

Bido Lito!

"a deft masterclass in cyclical finger-picking fused with subtle glitches, warped drones and rapping Autumnal taps."

Peter Guy, Liverpool Echo

"One of the most innovative solo guitarists on the scene right now is John McGrath ... utilising seriously warped effects over John Fahey-esque musings."

Deep Hedonia

"like Bert Jansch remixed by Four Tet, combining extraordinary technical mastery with warm drones and harmonic effects."

The Cube

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