Skookil Express 

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Skookil Express   1973-1978           John Stey shares some memories... 

Time slips by so quickly and to try to recall details from 30 years ago is nearly impossible, but I will do my best to tell the story.  If anyone has memories that would provide some clarity to the story, please donít hesitate to share them with all of us.

I believe I met Ken Terry and Ted Sohier at the Lenape Park Old Fiddlers Picnic in the summer of 1973.  The next thing I remember was being in the front yard of Ted and Emily Sohierís house in Berwyn, PA playing music to attract people to their tag sale.  

It was that day that Dan Newhall was driving by, always looking for tag sales, and stopped to check out the scene.  Iím not sure if he had a bass or said that he had one, but that was how the four of us met.  

Ted had a radio gig in Philadelphia, Kenny fixed VWs and sold them, Dan did odd jobs and built banjos, and I was trying to make a living playing music as a singer/guitarist. 

Kenny worked out of the garage of John and Bonnie Grosch in Chester Springs.  John and Bonnie were our first real patrons.  They were enormously gracious people and loved Kenny as a family member.  

John was a guitar player and singer but the whole family; JT, Nickie and Kate all loved the music.  The Groschís gave us an ideal place to hone our repertoire.  

The country farmhouse was like a paradise with a greatroom, dining room and large porch overlooking the barns and a pool with a bathhouse frig always stocked with Rolling Rock.  Over the years we spent a lot of time at the Farm playing music, sharing food and just hanging out.

I believe that our first gig was at some radio station or college snack bar.  When questioned, we called ourselves the Rolling Rock Ramblers: Ted Sohier, guitar/vocals, Ken Terry, banjo/vocals, Dan Newhall, bass/vocals, and John Stey, mandolin/vocals.

Traveling the 24 miles out to the Farm to rehearse several times a week, I spent a lot of time on the Schuylkill Expressway. 

We needed a name and my feeling was that it had to be fast like Train 45 and it must look good on paper and it must be bluegrass local like most other bands. 

The problem was that I liked the name Schuylkill.  It had a nice sound/ring but Iím a terrible speller and could not imagine having to spell Schuylkill.  On paper I liked the way Skookil Express looked, so thatís the story of the name.

I promised Doug Derby, who owned the Wheel Pump Inn (WPI) in Erdenheim, PA that we would fill his bar with bluegrass music lovers if given the chance.  Kenny had a friend who owned the Bryn Mawr Beef& Ale (BMBA), Castor Notskas and he was willing to give us a chance on a Tuesday night.  We began at the BMBA on Tuesday, October 2, 1973 and at the WPI on Saturday November 3, 1973.

The original photo of the four of us kneeling and standing with our instruments was taken by Emily Sohier out in their front yard.  I used it as the original poster and plastered them all over the Mainline and Germantown.

By January 1974 we were playing Tuesday and Friday nights at the Bryn Mawr Beef & Ale and Wednesday and Saturday nights at the Wheel Pump Inn. 

We played our last gig at the Grey Fox (BMBA) on July 29, 1978.  

The rest of the story remains to be told by other band members and fans. hiladelphia, PA

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