Farms, roofs, mountains and stuff

Don’t trust the weather forecast. If you want to know for sure when it’s going to rain, ask me; because surely enough, whenever I perform outdoors, it’s sure to rain. And so it was that this weekend at Farmfest, my band Polaroid 85 was terribly abused by the elements. Upon taking to the stage, the clouds appeared, the heavens opened, and our crowd of thoroughly delightful human beings got a total drenching. Thanks to those of you who stayed with us through the rain and the sunshine! It was a great weekend and a jolly good festival.

Polaroid 85 Farmfest megafan Polaroid 85 @ Farmfest 2014

In the few weeks before this, I had the opportunity to play all over the place with some crazy / wonderful people. One particular highlight was Othon‘s Pineal album launch party at The Garage in Highbury & Islington. This was a characteristically quirky night inspired by the wonders of ayahuasca, featuring cameo appearances from big names including Marc Almond and Ernesto Tomasini. Definitely something off the beaten track and well worth a listen. I’m also featured on the album performing a solo violin track called City Shaman.

Pineal launch show

Project Avartan took a trip to Lisbon to perform at the Museu do Oriente. Although we ended up stranded in Portugal due to flight cancellations (thank you TAP Portugal – still an unexplained cancellation and you haven’t replied to my letter), we had a smashing time soaking up the atmosphere and performing for a lovely mixed bunch of people. You can check out the compilation video here:

The Guastalla Quartet‘s Homeland Tour of Switzerland, Germany and the UK was a smash. The audiences in Bern, Karlsruhe and Norwich were incredibly friendly and receptive. We also had time to record a new live album in Boulder Studios, Bern. Watch this space for fresh recordings of Milhaud and Dvorak coming very soon! Apologies to those of you who helped fund the tour and are still expecting CDs. We haven’t forgotten! On that note, another massive thanks to everyone who made the tour possible. You are the true heroes of the music world! (P.S. commiserations to Switzerland for the World Cup…)

Guastalla Quartet in the Schwarzwald

On a final note, I’ve hooked up with young and funky company Gather.ly in pursuit of some exciting collaborative projects. I’m over the moon to be working with the formidably talented The Last Skeptik. We have no idea what we’re going to come up with, but that’s half the fun. If you don’t know him, you ought to check him ought immediately! Massive beats, beautiful textures and most importantly, a clear love of music. Here’s a little snap and brief clip from a rooftop meeting with Gather.ly recently. That’s all for now – enjoy the sun!

John @ the Gather.ly rooftop

Auf wiedersehen, Pet

A very merry festive greeting to you from South-West Germany, where it is neither snowing nor frosty. In fact, it feels rather similar to London. IN FACT, the last couple of times that I had the fortune of visiting Paris, it rained and rained and rained. There is a weather conspiracy going on. I suggest that we wipe from global consciousness the idea that the UK is a miserable place with miserable weather. We are not alone with our slate skies and soggy socks. But this is a subject for a different blog, a different blogger and another time. Back to business.

The run up to Christmas has reigned upon me one of the busiest times of my life, proving both immensely satisfying and tear-provokingly stressful. However, I have survived and am here to tell the tale to you, faithful reader.

Firstly, it should be noted that new pages now exist on this very website, notably, those of groups The Guastalla Quartet and Emanata. I am very excited to finally be getting these groups out into the public eye. The Guastalla Quartet takes the place of The Park Quartet as my active string quartet, with a fresh line-up and renewed enthusiasm. We are slowly working through our to-do list on the path to global domination: coming soon to a billboard, TV screen, airport advertisement or milk carton near you. Emanata is an entirely different kettle of fish. With a sound fusing jazz, hip-hop, electronica, world music and other things, we are based in the recording studio, capturing the group improvisation and discovery. I am very excited to releasing our first EP on Love Buzz Recordings in a few weeks. We’ve even got superhero alter-egos to go with the music (Emanata is a comic-book term… Google it!). Head over to the dedicated pages in the ‘groups‘ section to find out more.

Emanata in the studioThe Guastalla Quartet

Another new project that is just about to hit the shelves of your local internet supermarket is ‘Project Avartan’. I’ve teamed up with Indian musicians Rekesh Chauhan and Alok Verma, both powerhouse musicians of impressive repute, to create an unusual new group fusing classical, Indian, jazz and electronic music. We’ve been into the recording studio twice already to record a few demo tunes, which will be released soon. Look out for the soaring vocals of Andri Antoniou featured on one track. Check out our trailer below:

To sum up some smaller bits of exciting news… In November I went into the studio with Greek composer Othon Mataragas to record the solo violin for a track from his forthcoming album ‘Pineal’; keep an eye out for this – it’s going to be worth a listen. We good folks at Polaroid 85 are very pleased to be working not only with record label Reel Me Records, but also with agency Wormfood; 2014 is going to see a massive shake-up in the Polaroid 85 world – watch this space. Good friends of mine, AZEDIA, have just released a new album. If you like electronic music, this is a must – check it out here. Lastly, my jazz quartet were delighted to be invited to play at the Swing Unlimited Jazz Club in Bournemouth recently. We had a great time, quartet and audience alike. We were also very chuffed to see our poster sitting just above another one featuring the Alec Dankworth Trio – jazz royalty! We shall hopefully be back at the SUJC in 2014.

John Garner Quartet at SUJCP85 live in Hackney

And so, all that is left for me to say is fröhliche weihnachten. Have a wonderful Christmas holiday, and a smashing New Year. Thanks to everyone who has been a part of my life this year; it has been a great one. Bring on 2014!