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Jim Hightower

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New CD Highlights Arkansas Stories in Song





Singer Songwriter Jim Hightower

June 1, 2009

Zoie Clift, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Singer-songwriter Jim Hightower writes and records songs about Arkansas. He has just finished a new recording, More Arkansas Stories in Song, set to be available in Arkansas State Park gift shops by mid June.

“I like to think of my music as old time, down home, real life stories of real people,” said Hightower.

This is his second recording focusing on songs about the state. He also wrote and recorded Arkansas Stories in Song and the sounds of guitar, banjo, mandolin, and hammered-dulcimer are plentiful on both compilations.

“I think my dad had the most influence in my wanting to play music,” said Hightower, who is 74 and has survived both thyroid and prostrate cancer. “I remember him singing Jimmie Rodgers tunes as we plowed and hoed our cotton in the creek bottoms of east Texas.”

Though born and based in Texas, Hightower has many ties to the state. His grandfather, who was born in Pope County, came to Texas in 1903. He drove a team of mules from Gravelly (in Yell County) to a little farm in Franklin County, Texas. Hightower was born on the farm in 1935.

“I grew up listening to Grandpa tell of the old days in Yell County,” he said. “Fishing in the Fourche River, going to Danville or Dardanelle in a wagon…I was in love with Arkansas a long time before I saw it.”

The new CD was recorded at Joe Jewell's Little Crooked House Studio in Mountain View. “It’s actually an old 107-year-old house,” said Hightower. “Joe has it laid out well for recording.”

The album highlights a variety of popular locations in the state such as the Buffalo River and Mount Magazine and includes nods to local history with odes like "David O. Dodd", a song based on the story of a 17 -year old boy who was hanged by the Union Army for spying in 1864. “What stands out about this story for me is the fact that this young lad died before he would betray a friend,” said Hightower. The song also has a personal connection for the singer. His great grandfather joined the Union Army at Dardanelle in 1863. “It's possible that he was in the crowd at David O. Dodd's hanging,” he said.

Hightower chose to record his new album in Mountain View because of the musicians and the well established music community there. “They seem to understand what I want,” he said. The town has been a source of inspiration for the singer for many years. “Several years ago my son Tim and I were playing in a little show in Jefferson, Texas,” said Hightower. “Tillman Franks (who was Johnny Horton’s manager) came over to me and said he really liked one of my songs (“Gallilee”) and that I should record it. He told me a man in Mountain View had a good little studio and he wanted me to go there and record. This was the first time I met my ol' pal and friend Dave Campbell of Timbo. Dave has been my mentor for the last twenty years. He has taught me more about my music than I knew myself.”

Hightower credits hammered dulcimer player and recording engineer Joe Jewell, Hank Snow, Jimmie Rodgers, DeeAnn Gillespie, Judy Klinkhammer, Bradley Kincaid, and Guy Lombardo as a few of his musical influences.

So after years of singing and composing songs about Arkansas, where is his favorite place in the state? “That's a hard question ‘cause when I cross that Arkansas state line I'm in my favorite spot,” he said. “I guess I'd have to say it's Mountain View - in my "Arkansas'' song one of the lines is--"I'm in love with Stone County and the friends that I have there."

For more information on Hightower and his music, visit www.texasballads.com

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Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, 501-682-7606
E-mail: info@arkansas.com

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"

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