Wake and Whisper

by John McGrath

  • Streaming + Download

    Pre-order of Wake and Whisper. You get 1 track now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.
    Purchasable with gift card
    releases June 1, 2019

      £7 GBP  or more


  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Glass-mastered CD comes in a beautiful 4-page Ecopak with artwork by John Rogers.

    Includes digital pre-order of Wake and Whisper. You get 1 track now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.
    digital album releases June 1, 2019
    item ships out within 2 days
    edition of 200 

      £10 GBP or more 


Ohlish (live)
Breath (live)
Si Bheag Si Mhor
Moreover, the Moon (live)
Woes of the Turtle


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

"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

"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

John McGrath is an Irish guitarist based in London. His music explores the boundaries of the ancient and modern as traditional elements meet improvisation and experimental tendencies. His debut solo album for Crooked Stem Recordings, Wake and Whisper (out June 1st), deals with themes of place, repetition and memory while spanning American primitive guitar, avant-folk ensemble instrumentals, traditional Irish melody, and song.

McGrath grew up in a family that regularly engaged in folk sing-songs and was imbued with an open-minded attitude to myriad musical styles from an early age. As a teenager he played electric guitar in blues-rock and punk bands, largely self-taught himself various styles from jazz to country and honed his improvisation skills on regular professional gigs around Ireland. At 17 he met Irish guitarist Eric Roche who would be a lasting influence. He studied classical guitar with Redmond O’Toole at University and discovered a love for J.S. Bach. The music of Bill Frisell, John Martyn, Bert Jansch and John Fahey soon became favourites however, sparking a keen interest in solo guitar performance and composition. While relishing collaboration, performing on a single instrument has been his main focus ever since, as he continually searches for new sounds and textures.

McGrath has been interviewed / featured in The Wire, Aquarium Drunkard, Burning Ambulance, The Skinny, Bido Lito!, BBC Radio, Radio New Zealand, Sideways through Sound, and Sydney's FBi radio and has had his music synched on various television shows and sounded at Tate Modern and FACT. John has performed the UK premiere of Rhys Chatham's "Die Donnergotter" in addition to "Guitar Trio" alongside the composer. He has also performed with Dustin Wong, Sharon Gal, Cavalier Song, Howard Skempton and the aPAtT Orchestra. A vinyl recorded as part of the Never Records installation at the Liverpool Biennial was reworked in a live performance by Philip Jeck. As a solo performer John has performed at a number of festivals and has supported Richard Dawson, Gwenifer Raymond, Laraaji and Sun Araw. Recent gigs have been at Kings Place, the Islington and a John Fahey Memorial night at the Betsey Trotwood. Besides guitar-playing, McGrath has also authored a book with Routledge entitled, "Samuel Beckett, Repetition and Modern Music” (2018) (which has received positive reviews in The Wire and Burning Ambulance), writes regularly on music, and lectures at University of Surrey which is home to the International Guitar Research Centre (IGRC).


releases June 1, 2019

All compositions by John McGrath

Except Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór (O'Carolan, arr. McGrath)

All guitars, vocals and lapsteel performed by John McGrath

Arrangements on tracks 2,3,5 by Chloë Mullett
Live recording of tracks 2,3,5 by Product Records
Immix Ensemble features on tracks 2,3,5:
Daniel Thorne - saxophones
Hilary Browning - 'cello
Paul Duffy - trumpet, trombone
Simmy Singh - violin
Jonathan Guy - bass clarinet
Michael Walsh - oboe, cor anglais

Produced, recorded and mixed by John McGrath
Mastered by Christopher Leary at Melograf Mastering
Artwork by John Rogers / Photograph by Holly Rogers
Design by John McGrath



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Crooked Stem Recordings London, UK

Crooked Stem Recordings is an independant label focusing on experimental folk, improvisation and guitar soli.

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