Wednesday 13 April 2022

Leigh Folk Festival - 2022 - yes it's back and here's the first view of the bill! #LFF

Oratorio for Living Things - Heather Christian

Johnny Butler is part of this amazing show which is getting rave reviews and being extended. If you are in NYC do go!

Kerouac Lives!

 Kerouac Lives! featuring the songs from the stage show of the same name and sung by Patrick Wise & Jessika Mae is out now!

Grab the CD from

Grab a digital stream or download from your fave provider.

Simon Warner's piece for Rock and the Beat Generation on the genesis of the show is here:

THE STAGE production Kerouac Lives! was premiered in Yorkshire, England, earlier this year, a show conceived to commemorate the centenary of the great American author. A blend of conversation, readings and film, the production also presented eight new musical compositions responding to the writer’s extraordinary life.

Penned by regular collaborators poet and lyricist Heath Common and composer John Hardie, the songs proved a hit ingredient in a sell-out performance and their work is now available on CD for the first time.

Common was the driving force behind successful Leeds indie act the Rhythm Sisters in the late 1980s and early 90s. Hardie has been an active music maker and studio powerhouse for decades. They have also worked together on a political musical Keir, a biography of a giant of the British Labour movement.

But the topic of Kerouac, as his hundredth birthday approached, proved particularly fertile ground for the creative pair who then engaged two complementary singers – Patrick Wise and Jessika Mae – for the studio recordings and the live show back in February.

Pictured above: The CD front cover created by Patrick Wise

The songs, employing a variety of styles from rock to jazz, anthem to ballad, create a vivid picture of an author who grew up in provincial Massachusetts, moved to New York City as a Columbia football star, and then emerged as one of the great literary voices of the century, only to fall prey to the perils of fame and the dark power of the bottle suffering an all too early demise in 1969.

The two performers on Kerouac Lives! have diverse backgrounds. Jessika Mae is a graduate of the famed BRIT School in London, an institution that has produced outstanding talent from Amy Winehouse to Adele and more. Patrick Wise is a graphic artist, who trained at the celebrated UK arts college Bretton Hall and now combines his illustrating skills with a distinctive vocal ability.

Wise was also commissioned to create the cover images for the album, engaged after adventurous Essex-based label Hi4Head Records decided to release the new material when boss Nick Dart attended the live presentation and was impressed by what he heard.

Versatile singer-painter Wise explained to Rock and the Beat Generation how he came up with the two striking head images of Kerouac, which adorn both front and back of the CD sleeve.

Pictured above: Wise’s design for the back of the album

‘I created both of the portraits digitally. To begin with I created a series of iPad sketches. The image for the front cover of the album was one of them, although originally it was just meant to be a mock up for a large scale oil painting I intended to do.’

Wise explains, ‘With both of the images I wanted there to be an ambiguity to them: I wanted to allude to various emotions but not pin down any particular one. I wanted the images to be layered and for the front cover painting especially to convey a certain amount of turmoil.’

He continues: ‘I was influenced by Abstract Expressionism and by the abstract nature of jazz and by Kerouac’s own Beat paintings and wanted to capture some of these influences in the final versions. With everything I create it has to be instinctive but, while I am creating the subject matter, I always hold on to the finished image I have in mind.’

Kerouac Lives!, with its splendid and striking packaging, is available on CD, online from Hi4Head Records (, and, as label head Dart stresses, ‘also available digitally everywhere’.

Friday 5 November 2021

Pencil drawings

 Brilliant pencil drawings (pencil only!) of Kalen (Death by Piano) and Johnny Butler by Zojayart

Check @zojayart on Instagram, commissions available!

Thursday 4 November 2021

Agam by Stuart Masters & Rishi Ranjan

 This short'n'suite Anglo-Indian acoustic cult classic is now available to stream and download on all platforms:

With the Flow - Trevor Watts Moire Music Drum Orchestra

 Available on BandCamp - this version of the band was only ever on one other recording, A Wider Embrace on ECM!