We all want to run off to the circus at one point in our lives, for me it happened twice once when I was a wee lad and later after I got out of the service and took a trip around Florida before heading home and stopped in Sarasota and visited the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus winter quarters. I wanted to be a clown.
John Highkin did run off to the circus not as a clown but as co-founder and artistic director of San Diego’s Fern Street Circus. He created and produced circus shows and events from 1991 to 2003, commissioning original music and playing in the band from 1998 to 2003.
After 30 years as a sideman, this mandolin-playing circus impresario has stepped out on his own as Johnny High-Hat to tackle everything from well-known standards to vintage country, and lesser known Texas swing gems, on this debut ‘Heart of a Clown’
Working in theater in the ‘80’s (studying at Bertolt Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble in East Berlin in 1987) Johnny High-Hat brings a theatrical presence to his contemporary interpretations of western swing and traditional songs. High-Hat tackles everything from well-known standards (“Pennies from Heaven,” “Route 66,” and “September Song”), vintage country (“Rockin’, Rollin’ Ocean,” “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I”) and lesser known gems (“It Must Be Love” and “A Thousand Goodnights”) to present a cohesive set of songs that address hunger, longing, and sadness, change and affirmation.
1. It Must Be Love
2. Route 66
3. Rockin’, Rollin’ Ocean
4. Heart of a Clown
5. Gingerbread Waltz
6. One More Ride
7. Pipeliner Blues
8. September Song
9. (Now and Then There’s)
A Fool Such As I
11. Pennies From Heaven
12. ‘Deed I Do
13. A Thousand Goodnights
Johnny High-Hat Singing, Mandolin, Upright Bass, Tenor Banjo, Mandocello, Saw -
Steve Jirak Acoustic & Electric Guitars
Mark Danisovszky Accordion
Parrish Ellis Rhythm Guitar (Tracks 1, 4, 7 & 13)
Teddy Weber Steel Guitar (Tracks 1, 4, 7 & 13) - Joseph “Joebass” DeJarnette Upright Bass (Tracks 1, 4, 7 & 13) - Rob Thorsen Upright Bass (Tracks 8, 10, & 11) - John Davis Arco Bass (Track 3) Bob Brandt Rhythm Guitar (Track 9) - Mike Stewart Rhythm Guitar (Track 11)
Dean Kranzler Snare Drum (Tracks 2, 4 & 7) - David Page Snare Drum & Cymbal (Tracks 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12)
Performance of Moon Mullican's "Pipeliner Blues" in San Diego, May 17, 2013.
Johnny High-Hat: vocals, mandolin
Joe Amato: lap steel
Bruce Huntington: upright bass
Jim Mooney: electric guitar
David Page: drums