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Stilt-Walking Mandolin Player Records 1st CD's video poster

Acoustic musician and circus impresario John Highkin (with ace guitarist Steve Jirak) records vintage country, swing and standards, his first CD. Read more

pledged of $2,000 goal
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This project was successfully funded on April 23, 2010.

Acoustic musician and circus impresario John Highkin (with ace guitarist Steve Jirak) records vintage country, swing and standards, his first CD.

About this project

Wow! Today (April 9th) the project made its goal with 2 weeks to go. Thank you 30 wonderful, warm and generous backers! For those of you new to the project, I hope you'll read on and learn about what we're doing and the music we're making. I still need support through to make this CD project even more memorable. Thank you for coming to the site.

I, John Highkin -- aka, Johnny High-Hat -- once ran a circus: San Diego's Fern Street Circus. I've played music as a sideman for over 30 years. Lately, I've been out playing solo: just me with a mandolin, tenor banjo, guitar, upright bass and musical saw -- and stilts. Now, with a grant from my local arts agency in Salina, KS, I'm able to start recording my first-ever long-playing CD (see "Needs" section below). It'll have magnificent and mostly little know songs -- vintage country, swing, standards played with a Western Swing feel. I'm going to be working closely with a wonderful producer and player - Steve Jirak - and getting under the skin of some great songs.

I love the way LPs and 78 albums look and feel. So, I want the CD to suggest the times of the songs I'm singing through the graphic look. Graphic designer Pam Harris is creating a graphic look inspired by Hatch Show Print in Nashville, TN (they're the 100+ year old print house responsible for the great posters used by Grand Ole Opry stars for decades). Watch as the look takes shape.

We want the CD to be in an alternative form to the jewel box: a folded dye-cut printing with a spine (so the name of the album can be seen in people's CD collections) and sleeve for credits and information. It'll look really wonderful -- and won't use any plastic.

The grant from the Horizons Grants Program in Salina is great! But it's not enough to accomplish the whole project. It's allowed me to buy equipment to finish off my home recording studio and to hire the producer/guitarist, Steve Jirak, engineer/software advisor, Bruce Lacy, and some additional musicians.

But I need funds to pay for the following: CD Mastering and manufacturing; a small p.a. system which will sound great but be very portable (a Bose probably); graphic design and printing and rights for the use of the songs. Altogether the cost of all of this exceeds the amount of the Horizons grant and my initial fund raising goal. Any additional donations beyond the fund raising goal are very much appreciated. Donors always honored!

This CD and the materials generated with it will help me get work so I can come to a town near you. This is a critical part of my plan for making music a more important part of how I make my living. And it's also an opportunity for all involved to better know about recording at home.

“WOW, what a FUN show tonight at the library. Thank you. Thank you!!!!”
Lisa Petty, Salina Public Library
Salina, KS

"When I asked you to bring your stilts to Coronado [Elementary School], I didn’t realize how much more you had to offer than a just demonstration of how to walk on stilts. You gave the students a great introduction to each of the four instruments (mandolin, tenor banjo, bass and guitar). Most of the students listed the bass or the banjo as their favorites. It’s pretty incredible to see you playing the bass when you’re up so high on the stilts!
"The students warmed up to you right away as you used your hat tricks to make them laugh. They thought you were really funny."
Nyla Romeiser, 2nd grade teacher
Salina, KS

"I have worked with John on several occasions, including rehearsals, performances and studio recording. John is a true joy to work with - a true team player. He shares ideas, takes criticism and still has fun. In performances, John has excellent stage presence and consistent application of the details worked out in rehearsal. John is always engaged.
Dean Kranzler, drummer
Salina, KS

"Highkin' excellent musician and entertainer with a a notable background in a variety of entertainment media, from bluegrass and Texas swing music to circus music and performance...
"He was a great asset... [to] my band, as a singer, as a talented mandolinist, as an emcee, and perhaps most importantly, as a great source of older material from past musical generations."
Richard Burkett, leader, Gone Tomorrow (bluegrass band)
San Diego, CA


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  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    0 backers

    Exclusive updates on the CD and the recording process. Will be via e-mail, song, postcard or some other unusual form.

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    3 backers

    Your name on my MySpace music page and future web site and an advance download of three (3) tracks from the album. Plus the above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    12 backers

    A digital download of the CD and graphics - and all of the above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    8 backers

    Your name listed on the CD liner notes and a pre-order for a physical, signed copy of the CD. Plus the above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    4 backers

    A beautifully designed t-shirt and a personal compilation of my favorite Western Swing tunes from the 1930s to the present day. Plus all of the above stuff.

  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    1 backer

    A signed show print poster and a new copy of a CD with 25 great songs by Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies (on Jazz Legacy Records) -- the inventor of Western Swing music in the 1930s. Also the above cool stuff.

  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    0 backers

    Clever mention of your name in a song on my CD. Plus all of the above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    0 backers

    I'll record the song of your choice in a Western Swing style and then perform it on YouTube, dedicated to you! Plus, of course, all of the above stuff.

  • You selected
    Pledge $2,500 or more

    0 backers

    A live concert in your home, for your friends, in your town. It'll be great to meet you! (Plus all of the above.)

Funding period

- (60 days)