Mandy Meyer, Kiya Heartwood, Kopana Terry, Jon Durno
Mandy Meyer, Kiya Heartwood, Kopana Terry, Jon Durno

 

I was in this little band called Stealin Horses. There’s a lot of misinformation about the band, particularly where dates are concerned. The Cliff Notes version of the truth:

In 1985 I hooked up with a group called Radio Cafe (Kiya Heartwood, Sam Gillespie, Thom Thompson). They’d been playing around Lexington for nearly two years by then. Within months of my addition we changed the name to Stealin Horses, made a 10 song tape in Nashville, and then both guys bailed (sigh). Connections made during those Nashville sessions, however, lead to a production deal, followed by a major label deal.

When Thom and Sam split, “the band” became just Kiya and me. For the next five years we carried on with a rotation of players like Gregg Fulkerson (Blue Tears, Attraction 65 – R.I.P. 2009), Jon Durno (Roman Holliday, Samantha Fox), Tony Nagy (Mark Selby, Terry Clark), and Brian Bonhomme (Roman Holliday). It wasn’t until Mesas and Mandolins (1991) that there were other members who shared equally in our spoils and tragedies.

 

self titled, Stealin Horses
Stealin Horses, Arista 1988 (cover by Arthur Tress)

 

Our self-titled album was released on Arista Records in 1988. We toured the U.S. and Canada with The Smithereens, Level 42, Wang Chung, and a slew of others, appearing on MTV, Farm Aid IV, and every beer dive in between. In truth, we recorded the record twice, first in Nashville and again in LA. Only the LA sessions were released. The album sold a respectable 100,000 units, but it didn’t begin to recoup what was spent. Arista dropped us the week before Christmas. They said we had no Top 40 potential.

 

 

Rotten as that was, we were one of the lucky bands. Many on Arista’s roster never made it out of development, much less have a charting product and tour support. How well we sold, and are still remembered today, is testament that bad business can’t kill good music.

 

Stealin Horses, 1992 (photo by Guy Mendes)
Stealin Horses, 1991 (photo by Guy Mendes)

 

Dusting ourselves off, we signed with indie label Waldoxy Records (Malaco) and eventually left Nashville for Tahlequah, Oklahoma. After more touring and more drama, we regrouped for the last time with Okie native Steve Kirkpatrick, and Kentuckians Kevin Clark, and Tim Gilliam. We produced one record, Mesas and Mandolines, but the strain of constant touring, no money, bad food, shady business deals, inner-group squabbling (bands are just dysfunctional families of our choosing), and general unhappiness finally drove us apart, with me out the door first. That was August 1992. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

Stealin Horses, Mesas and Mandolins, Waldoxy 1991 (cover by Sam McKinney)
Stealin Horses, Mesas and Mandolins, Waldoxy 1991 (cover by Sam McKinney)