Since being founded in 1995 the Canberra-based band has become well-known for being able to entertain people of all ages with both fine music and fun dancing. The Canberra Times has referred to their 'usual high standard of music' and John Garden's 'expert dance leading' and the Canberra Chronicle to their act as a 'sound and visual delight'. The musicians are not only accomplished at playing dance tunes from many different European traditions, but also at crossing traditional boundaries, mixing medieval and other instruments and blending Anglo-Celtic, Central European and other musical styles to produce exhilarating new music. Their 200 plus original tunes and 100 plus original dances are just the tip of a much bigger repertoire.
french style lute-back hurdy-gurdy, english border bagpipes, irish style wooden flute, hungarian small flute or furulya and dance leading.
John Garden leads the band, writes the band's original tunes, leads the dancing, researches the old dance manuals and produces the Earthly Delights' recordings and books. He has extensive experience teaching social dance from the last 5 centuries, performing music from many parts of the world, choreographing folk and ballroom dances – both display and participatory, and composing music. He has been kindly referred to as a '21st century Arbeau' and 'Australia's Pat Shaw' (for those so oriented). He has an interest and expertise in many styles of music and dance. From 1980 to 1986 he danced with Renaissance, Irish, Scottish, Finnish, Australian Colonial and International dance groups in Canberra, learnt dances in many other traditions from visiting dance teachers, and sampled many styles of dancing during various study periods in the former Soviet Union, Europe and Asia. From mid-1986 to 1987 he learnt Baroque, Irish, English country, American contra, Cajun, Tex-Mex, Vintage and Scandinavian dancing in the US and was honoured to receive a scholarship to the Medicino Dance Camp in California. Upon his return to Canberra in 1987 he started 'Dancing in the Park' and 'Country Dancing' and co-ordinated these series for 4 and 6 years respectively - during which time he helped form such bands as 'Fancy Footwork', called for 'Dancerye', 'Miller's Reel', 'The Porch Band', organised guest appearances by many talented local, interstate and international artists (including Americans, Finns, Swedes, Norwegians and Slovenes), and organised many specialist dance workshops. During this time John was a guest at folk festivals in Victoria (Yackandandah), the A.C.T. (the National), N.S.W. (Jamberoo and Sydney) and Queensland (Maleny)- and even danced at the Sydney Opera House. In 1991 he wrote and published A Country Dance Companion- a book which included a substantial history of social dance in the western European tradition and notes on 180 dances and 120 tunes. In 1991-92 he was President of the Monaro Folk Music Society and in 1992 he started 'Peasant Wedding', a band which specialised in western European dance music from the 16th to the 20th century and which played for Medieval and French theme Fetes, English country dance nights, multicultural functions, Bohemian balls, American Contradances, Scandinavian and Baltic dance workshops, National Art Gallery evenings, Botanic Garden concerts, spots at National Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs, outdoor fairs and wedding/work/school bushdances. In 1995 he founded 'Earthly Delights', a band which has since filled hundreds of different public and private bills. In 1998-99 he also played at festivals and on radio with the Hungarian band 'Lotsi and Friend', led by fellow Earthly Delights' member Laszlo Lakk. In September 1998 he won a Canberra Critics Circle Music Award for the 32 dances and 90 tunes which he composed for A Book of Earthly Delights and the double CD set A Box of Earthly Delights. He also wrote all the music, dances and commentary