The Story Behind Highland Park: The First Time I was put in front of a pre-school audience, there had been a mis-communication with the person who hired me. I was horrified because I had planned a program for school-aged kids. I struggled through it and swore I would never again work with a pre-school aged audience. But the next year, that same group called to hire me for a repeat performance and got me thinking. I thought I had done a terrible job. Now I was curious. What would they think of me if I actually prepared a few traditional nursery songs? I took the job and got through it much better, but I was still amazed at how difficult it was hold a two or three year old's attention. While I was pondering all of this, my own school-age children, Ashlen, Mikayla, and Jaime Marie, were looking for an allowance. What could they do to earn it? I suggested to them that they help me entertain pre-schoolers. I would book some work and they would help me perform. Interestingly, the first place I visited booked us for six shows. It was Highland Park in Endwell, NY. I didn't try to book any more work after that because my childrens' schedule suddenly changed. I would now be forced to work Highland Park alone. I was dismayed and considered backing out of the contract. But that was not really in my nature so, instead I learned a few more nursery songs. I figured I would have a different audience each time; how many different songs would I really need? When the first show started I was trembling with nervousness, but I played every nursery song I knew. Breathing a sigh of relief as the show ended, I figured I could just repeat the same show six times and I'd get through it. But to my horror, as the parents walked past me toward the exit, they kept saying, 'We'll see you next week!' 'We'll be back next time!' What was I going to do now? It was too late to give up. My only option was to come up with a new show in only 7 days. The children in my audiences could tell you the rest. They've seen hand puppets, string puppets, heard stories that were acted out, nursery ryhmes adapted and combined in new ways, they've seen juggling, ventriloquism, finger plays and finally they began to hear songs that I wrote just for them. In short, those pre-schoolers brought out a 'Best' in me that I didn't even know existed and Highland Park made me a regular. Thankfully, the next year, my daughters -along with their friend Caroline, were able to join me on stage as the 'Only Girls' and our growing audience was clamoring for a CD. I only had enough money to record it from my living room. I wanted my own children's voices on the CD, but they were too young for the discipline of traditional recording techniques. After numerous tears and tantrums from both Daddy and Children alike, I learned that recording while eating, giggling, or rolling about on the floor could get the job done far better than good posture, perfect pitch and other traditional measures of professionalism. If you listen closely, you can even hear my parakeet, Jacques, in the background on a few tracks. If there is one thing I love about these recordings, it is that they are of real people with real imperfections. They mirror childhood. Children don't care about perfect, but they love to experience the real thing, and it is even better if Mom and Dad are with them. That's what Highland Park is all about. Come and share your adventure of childhood with us; for the first, or for the second time. ~Johnny Only.