Steve Cook's soul, song, and sweat.

Shinybass journal entry 05-14-16

Oh, the war stories…

I hear that term a lot in our business – ‘war stories’. As a student of history and one who wanders around the battlefields and streets of our past, I have read a ridiculous amount of accounts of ‘war stories’, and ours are pretty much lame. Is ‘War Story’ a derogatory term? I mean, a true war story has pain, hardship, sometimes death and destruction. All we do is make music and occasionally our bus catches fire.

(In a low, gruff voice) It was pre-dawn and the smell of diesel filled the air. The foggy morning was heavy and the 2 cups of coffee rolled in my belly as the bus stopped on the loading dock. The haggard crew stumbled up the ramp and the cases…oh the cases…they started rolling down the ramp…

Not life-or-death at all. It’s just more of long hours and lack of sleep for those pesky red-eye flights. And remember – we chose this path. Soldiers don’t choose to be in combat. And our stories are generally funny. Not much funny happens in war.

I only bring all this up because we were in two towns this week with a little bit of war history, and it’s funny how we just don’t a) know much about history b) study history c) care and therefore are doomed to repeat history. Some people just don’t care to look at old things, because it doesn’t relate to them or the thought of history conjures up thoughts of school and tests.

And that’s OK. I don’t much care for hunting or college football, so there. (And I live in the South??) ¬†Everybody does their own thing, and although I think history has a bit more importance than the Alabama/Auburn rivalry, you certainly can’t force someone to think. Once the spark becomes a flame, the desire to seek knowledge is pretty intense, and fortunately I am allowed to see all points of the country, and venture to the places where history resides.

Millville, New Jersey. A town of 28,000 doesn’t sound like much, and the words ‘New Jersey’ can bring shivers to some. The town started with an idea, with Revolutionary War vet Joe Buck – not¬†that Joe Buck – arranged to buy a bunch of land and start Millville, including the planning of its downtown and streets. This went down in the late 1700’s. Buck never saw his streets built, but he is honored with a statue and a plaque placed on a creek bank not far from the Levoy Theater. If one walks up toward High Street from the creek, he will see a huge mural honoring the some 1500 WWII gunners that were trained in Millville at ‘America’s First Defense Airport’. Millville may have eventually been built without Mr. Buck, however, all we know is the timeline that could have turned the tide of a much later war because of his vision. All because of a dream, an idea, a reality.

Our friend Director Steve and our opener Shawn Lacy were on the bus with us, which is always a great time. Steve is working on some top secret stuff for our upcoming album releases. Our show was filmed for a PBS television show, and I was able to check out some of the feed in the truck. I should have ironed my T-shirt. A fun night was topped off by getting crusty with the locals at the Oar House Restaurant across the street from the theater. A fine night indeed.

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The short trip to Valley Forge was easy enough on the driver, and for those of us who stayed up late, well, the early morning was foggier than most. I did a quick maps search and realized we were a few short minutes from Valley Forge National Park. I have to admit, I didn’t know much about Valley Forge, but I sure as hell do now. Speaking with the greeter at the Visitors’ Center, he said the park was a 10.5 mile-long loop that would take 3 hours by car to experience. I told him we had an hour on foot, and he said ‘quit wasting your time in here…’ Jeff Smith and I were off. We made it 2 miles before we had to get back, but a 90 minute walk and history lesson on a perfect morning were OK with me.

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If you ever have half a day and want know all about a big chapter in the fight for our country’s Independence, I suggest this park. There were no battles fought here – well, none with bullets – just starvation, disease, bitter cold, and rock bottom morale. But somehow Washington was able to keep it all together, retake Philadelphia, eventually New York, then the whole shebanga bang. And even if you don’t like history, the trail is a perfect bike trail, or for the better runner than me – a running trail. Just take a stop every now and then to read some of the plaques and be thankful you have a warm bed and shoes.

The Valley Forge Casino show was downright rocking, and we can’t thank you all enough for making our little run up the East Coast a good one. And thank you for indulging me my history lesson. I’ll bet there is a spot not far from where you live that is pretty important that you never knew existed. Go check it out. Then plan a trip to Vegas then wine country next week, where we have some great shows lined up. Maybe I’ll get into some Merlot and film an episode of Drunk History

See you on the road!



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