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Steam Donkeys' Story
- 'A Word from the Band' - by Buck Quigley (Buffalo, NY CD liner notes)

A Word from the Band' - by Buck Quigley (Buffalo, NY CD liner notes, released 2003):

One of the things you learn speeding around the country in a used church van is that appearance really means a lot.

I can recall the first trip we took in ours. We were stopping for gas and noticed a transmission problem. We couldn’t drive away from the pump. So we pushed her to another part of the parking lot, and Doug started crawling under the thing trying to fix her up, when a delivery guy for Frito-Lay noticed our situation.

He had just freshened the stock in the store and was left with boxes of chips that hadn’t sold. He offered them to us and explained that they were "still good." He said "God bless you!" and drove off. So, while Doug was down there laying in an oil spot, I opened a bag. It was about the best damn bag of chips I’ve ever had in my life.

Troopers seemed to look the other way when we went sailing through speed traps in the church van.
Later, driving through the night, munching on a chip, I thought about that delivery man. And I wondered if he’d have been so generous to us had he known we weren’t a church group. Over the next few years we were granted similar mercies by strangers who noticed the pale blue crosses painted on both front doors, and the words "Greater Emmanuel Temple Church, Buffalo NY."

I think we considered painting it, but in the end we decided to leave it alone. It was cheaper, for one thing, to leave it alone. For another, we all came to realize that it set us apart on the road. Troopers seemed to look the other way when we went sailing through speed traps in the church van. And when you stop to think about it, you never see church vans pulled over by the Highway Patrol. Maybe it’s because they’re all driven very carefully. Maybe it’s because it would just plain look bad to pull one over.

The moral of the story is that things aren’t always the way they appear. It’s not so much that we enjoyed fooling people, it’s just that while we were riding in the church van, we were treated as God wants us all to be treated. With dignity, consideration and respect. If people had to be tricked into behaving righteously, then so be it. Truth is, that van brought out the best in people.

Our most recent record -- The Steam Donkeys, Buffalo NY -- was a long time coming. We had it mostly done I guess about three years ago. But we were tired, I think, of the music business. All of our lives had changed. And Marc, who’d recorded all the stuff, had moved with his wife and kids to Orlando to work for Disney. People would ask when we were putting out something new, and I’d say "We’ve got one almost finished." Gradually, even I stopped believing that line.

So there it all sat. Tapes in an anonymous brown box. Whammy had quit to play on a cruise ship. Panzer went too. Frank and John rejoined the band. Jim quit, rejoined, quit again. Doug moved away.
So there it all sat. Tapes in an anonymous brown box. Whammy had quit to play on a cruise ship. Panzer went too. Frank and John rejoined the band. Jim quit, rejoined, quit again. Doug moved away. Sometimes, that part of our lives seemed over. But we kept playing, Charlie, Frank, John and I. Occasionally, we’d think about the tapes. After a while, we couldn’t even remember what songs we’d recorded.

But life has a way of surprising you. And though it appeared were at a dead end, something miraculous happened. Marc moved back, and said he wanted to finish the record down at Chameleon West. And Charlie called Dwayne and Mud Bone, and they said they’d release it. After two nights mixing, and adding a whistling track, we were essentially done. Mark Wisz came down and took some photos around the shell of an old Delaware mansion behind the studio and whipped up the artwork.

We’ve asked for so much over the years, and we always try to say thanks. I’d like to say it to my wife and daughter, and of course to everyone else who has helped us and loved us along the way. In many ways we were pilgrims out there, and we’ve been very blessed. A wise friend of mine who used to be a nun told me it was okay to ask for things through prayer … just be sure to say "thanks" afterward.

So, Thank You God, for this record.

Now we can start the next one.

Buck Quigley (2003)

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