Johnny Casino - High Stone
  • RELEASE DATE /3 May 2024
  • LABEL /Cheersquad Records & Tapes
  • FORMAT /Limited edition orange 12 inch vinyl, black 12 inch vinyl and digitally
Johnny Casino - High Stone
Johnny Casino - High Stone


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Johnny tells the story of High Stone…

“The city of Philadelphia has been very good to me over the years, there has been some rough moments but for the most part it treated me real kind.  I was first in Philly (Philadelphia will now be refereed to as Philly from this point on) in November of 1996 while on a month long tour of North America with the band Asteroid B612, we kinda station ourselves in Philly for around 5 days near the end of the tour. I already had a connection in Philly with my dearly departed brother Howard Saunders or ¨Thee Cosmic Commander¨ he had searched me out while on a visit to Sydney Australia in 1993 and we became very close since that time.

I spent the best part of 3 years living in Philly in between the years of 1997 and 2001 only popping back home to Australia to renew my visa or to play some concerts, while there I learnt to tattoo in the near by neighborhood of Philly called Manayunk (about 10kms from the city along down past the art museum and alongside the Schuylkill river thru the Wissahickon National Park along Kelly drive into Manayunk, I still try to visit that area each and every time I am back in Philly.

I recorded 2 albums and 1 Ep with Johnny Casino´s Easy Action and a never released Ep with the late Great Michael Wilhelm in Philly, as well as playing lots and lots of concerts and tattooing loads of Philly´s fine folks.

Why High Stone?

In 2019 we started recording tracks for High Stone, we stopped, started again, stopped, lost all the recordings due to studio system meltdown, started again, stopped, then finished recording the album in  August of 2023, some of these stops and starts were due to me living in Spain and only having limited time to do things while I was in Philly, but there also seemed to be other forces at work that took us of the path during the conception and birth of this album.

The recording Studio Greenrock Recorders is located on the corner of Lehigh and Livingston in Olde Richmond on the 3rd floor above a bar my long time friend Jamie Mahon owns, he also owns the studio. In the early sessions for the album I would travel from my ¨brother¨Billy´s home in Manayunk into the studio each time passing by the Wissahickon and at night returning via the Wissahickon, I feel some kinda connection with this area of Philly, the long winding road, the at times peacefulness of the river with also a sense of danger or fear of the unknown that lives in the Wissahickon.

I will be the first to say my research is nothing more that light reading into the history of this area I have spent a lot of time in or traveling thru, SO this is what I have learnt,

the Lenni Lenape people are thought to be the first tribe of Indians to settle in the Delaware area, they moved around a fair bit OR where moved around in later years by the powers that be (o´cause all this depends on where you read it) anyway they settled along the Schuylkill River that runs around Philly, they lived a lot in the Wissahickon which is the forest that kinda separates Philadelphia center city and Manayunk where I learnt to tattoo and spent a LOT of time.  Lenni means real genuine pure, and Lenape means original person or real person.

So, these original folks lived in between what would become downtown Philly and Manayunk, at some stage many years later the city decided to build a statue to honor the Lenni Lenape, so they built it and placed it in the Wissahikkon on what they called ¨council rock¨ the highest rock in the national park, the Lenni Lenape called it ¨High Stone¨ not council rock. In the Lenni Lenape the women were the most powerful of the tribe because they could breed more young men to help them get food and fight if needed etc etc, the high ranking tribe members wore a ¨gorget¨ which is like a carved stone with different designs carved into it, they also called this a ¨High Stone¨

So you get where i am going with this? Album recorded back in Philly, my connection with that area esp the Wissahikkon that divides both places I spent most of my time in.

and so the Studio where i made the album is on the 3 storey of my buddy Jamie´s bar, The Greenrock Tavern (bar on the bottom floor, office and bathroom and bedroom on the second floor, Studio on the top floor, this building is on the corner of Lehigh and Livingston in Olde Port Richmond Philly, see the name of the streets?? leHIGH and livingSTONE ……well i added the e to the end of livingston , but you get where I am going with this and see all the connections, right?

Jamie Mahon (Engineer and Producer) and I go back a way, I first met Jamie back in the late 90´s at The Kyber Pass Bar in Old City Downtown Philly, at the time he was working behind the bar as well as playing Bass guitar in some of the best bands around town, we played together at a show or 2 around town, Upstairs at Nicks and The Kyber, during the years Jamie and I would both release records thru the same record labels and then we would finally play again together in 2016 with his band St. James and The Apostles. I remember thinking to myself about 3rd song into their set ¨FUCK!! I wanna do something with these guys!!¨ at the time they were a 3 piece, Guitar/Vocals, Keyboards and Drums, it was heavy, it was soulful, it was atmospheric, it had time and space and groove, I really dug it. At some stage in 2018 I was back in Philly again hanging out with my ¨brother¨ Billy and visiting some friends in Chesapeake Virginia, while down there I found a guitar I might like to buy, an Old 1972 Gretch Country Club, I got it back to Philly and had a few days to mess around before flying home to Spain, I got a message from Jamie asking me where I was at?? I told him ¨back in Philly but only for a few days¨ he asked if I would like to come over to his recording Studio and mess around with some sounds and see if we could do something together, I told him I had just bought a guitar that I would love to give a run in the studio and LOVED the idea. So late one afternoon I headed over to the studio along the winding Kelly Drive road thru the Wissahickon to Jamie´s Studio in Port Richmond Philly, we had a few drinks in the Greenrock Tavern downstairs then headed up to see what we could come up with. I was goofing around trying to pull a sound out of an old Amplifier playing the chords to Sweet Jane when Jamie said ¨Lets do a version of that!!¨ seemed like a good idea to me, 3 hours later we had a really cracking version of Sweet Jane done!! sadly it was lost in a complete studio system failure (along with a full album of my songs and another 6 or 7 albums Jamie had been working on for himself and other artists) all that remains of that night is a ruff mobile phone audio recording of a ruff mix of the song, BUT it was enough for me and Jamie to want to do more!! and that was important.

St. James and The Apostles primary consist of Jamie on Guitar and Vocals, Jeff Castner on Drums and Mike Kiker on Hammond Organ and Keyboards, Jill Snarburg sings vocals as well but she was not in the band when I first started working with them.

They are STARS!! all four of them, Jeff lays such a great groove that I don’t know if I wanna play guitar or put the guitar down and shake the old JC arse around! We work great together in the studio, 5 or 10 minutes talking bout the feel of the song, showing him the arrangement and off we go! can´t remember there being more than a 3rd take on any song! So much fun to be around as well, we laugh at the same strange things all the time! Mike is a genius! I don´t use that term lightly but he is! And it´s a crime he aint some kinda high paid session guy, so much musical knowledge and feel for not only traditional rock¨n¨roll but out there weirdo stuff as well, it just oozes outta him, AND!! he plays everyfuckinthing! Stick him on Bass and he is AMAZING! He drums! He sings! He play great guitar, flute, I am really not sure if there is something he doesn´t play!!?? and his main instruments Organ, Piano and Keyboards……..well lets just say he´s got the right stuff. Jill sings up a storm! That tiny body of her´s sure does pack a big punch!! soulful, powerful and tuneful and the while with a great smile of her face that is a joy to be around. Did I leave Jamie out?? me and Jamie connect of things, old effects, films, funny shit, Slow Gin Fizz, things! And we are understanding of each other, I love his ¨mad scientist¨ approach and cavalier approach to things in the studio, we both loved committing to ideas and sounds, not saying ¨lets keep it clean and decide what we want to do in the mixdown¨ fuck that!! we agree on ¨lets send it fucking wild and crazy and let that sound make us play the song in a way we may have never thought of!¨ I love that, Jamie is a great guitar player, great bass player and he is a brother.

Connections are what we have or what we can leave behind, to places, to people, to films, to music, to a certain time, we all have them……well at least I hope we do, we don´t need to agree on everything but at least try to understand why folks may not see it the way you or I do… patience? Love and not fear? At times we are all searching for something, I was looking for a ¨High Stone¨ and all the while I had been surrounded by it while I was in Philly.


Johnny Casino