Picture courtesy of Jeff (email@example.com) from the reunion concert at York, PA.
This page contains the comments and reviews from Grand Funk Railroad fans who have seen recent concerts or other appearances by the band and its members. These fan comments have been pulled primarily from the USENET news group alt.rock-n-roll.classic along with a few other sources and have been posted here with the original author's permission.
If you would like your comments included here just send me an e-mail message with your comments and your permission to post. I won't guarantee that I will use everything that I receive -- but I will give everything equal consideration.
So, without any further ado ...
WoW! If you missed this one, you missed a FANTASTIC show. Mark Farner's guitar playing and vocals were as crisp as ever, and Don and Mel were equally as impressive. The boys pulled a few surprises, as they played some early classics like Time Machine, Aimless Lady, Inside Looking Out and Nothing Is The Same. The Railroad was masterful, Closer To Home had everyone singing, and Brewer's drum solo on T.N.U.C. was hypnotic.
Anthem songs like Shinin On and We're An American Band had us standing and dancing in the aisles, not to mention Footstompin Music, and there were alot more where those came from. Afterwards (for those who stuck around long enough) the boys came out and talked with the crowd, gave autographs and posed for pictures. If the Railroad comes rolling through your town....DON'T MISS IT.
Here's the playlist:
I agree that this was a great show! This was the third time I've seen the band. The show opener's of Are You Ready and Footstompin' music really got the adrenaline going! I was worried for most of the day that the weather would put a damper on things but the rain held off!
The suprises for me: Aimless Lady, Nothing Is The Same The disappointments: The mud (we moved back to the grandstand before the show started and I'm glad we did, Had a great view of the entire stage!), no new material (but maybe we'll get that new CD this fall that's been rumoured).
I thought about hanging around after the show, but since my brother was driving, it was his call and we left. I would have like to have met them!
Great show, great memories..... Hope I don't have to wait 15 years to see them again.
Hi there GFR fan,
Yes, I did have the opportunity to see Grand Funk Railroad on their reunion tour. I have been a fan since my next door neighbor brought over the "Closer to Home" album back in 1970.
I have had the pleasure of seeing them in concert here in Savannah, Georgia on February 24, 1973 -- I believe it was on there "Phoenix" tour. The concert was fantastic. It was the first tour where Craig Frost had joined the band on keyboards. Also, I saw them in Jacksonville, Florida on January 5, 1975 during their "All the Girls in the World Beware" tour -- another concert I will never forget.
I was a big Grand Funk fan with all the Mark Farner posters on my walls. I had the chance to see Mark on a tour in 1987 on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. He played a lot of the Grand Funk music along with the Christian music he was writing. My brother and I actually got to talk one on one with Mark -- super nice guy. We talked as if we had known each other since we were kids. I still have the autograph he gave us. I always wondered if Grand Funk would ever get together again -- always hoping but always doubting.
I was born in York, Pennsylvania and my parents receive the York newspaper. I will never forget the day my father called to tell me there was an article in the York Press saying that the "Grand Funk Railroad Reunion Tour" was coming to the York Fairgrounds. My dream had come true. I new it was time to get "Closer to Home." I hopped in my car with all my Grand Funk tapes and 12 hours later with 714 miles behind me I arrived at my sister's house. She thought I was crazy but I knew I wasn't.
Arriving at the York Fairgrounds I knew I was experiencing a moment I would never forget. From the time Mark, Don, and Mel hit the stage I felt like I was in a "Time Machine." They hadn't missed a beat -- Mark flying across the stage, Don pounding the drums, and Mel cranking out the bass. Grand Funk Railroad was back doing what they do best -- playing rock and roll the way it was meant to be played. They sounded better than ever. Every song they had down to the note.
I was able to get close to the stage and the pictures I got are incredible. Mark has to be in great shape to move like he did on stage. Don's solo on T.N.U.C. was fantastic. And to see the whole crowd stand as one on the end of "I'm Your Captain" was just beyond words. After the final note of their encore, "We're an American Band," I knew my trip was worth every mile.
Knowing this was probably my last chance to see the boys, I took a moment to reflect on my last 25 years and reached the conclusion I have know all along: Mark, Don, & Mel -- Grand Funk Railroad -- are, without a doubt, "THE AMERICAN BAND" ...
I can now die happy ...
I just got back from Traverse City and the 1996 National Cherry Festival where I was able to see and hear some of the best, the most classic, most genuine, most American rock 'n roll music in the whole world with Grand Funk Railroad.
And what a show it was!
If you saw Jeff's (firstname.lastname@example.org) post about the York, PA concert (it's on my GFR fan comments page) they played the same songs in a slightly different order and all the classics were there. From the opening chords of Are You Ready through Inside Looking Out, Mean Mistreater, and Shinin' On through the last echos of the encore We're An American Band -- it was some of the best, some of the most classic Rock 'N Roll Soul.
I must experience this phenomena again! I can only hope that they bring the show to Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville, or Lexington -- anywhere within a 200 mile radius and I'll be there!!
Some surprises: There was a keyboard player on stage -- not a surprise, really -- who, although not introduced, stood out front and received some of the "spotlight." There was another guitar player -- a *big* surprise -- who, was not introduced, stood definitely in the background, out of the spotlight, and played some of the rhythm lines. Finally, something "got into" Mel -- our favorite bass player was not standing in his usual place back by the amps pounding out that exquisite bass line. He was actually out running and dancing around the stage with Mark. Glad to see it!
Don't miss the American Band -- Grand Funk Railroad -- if they roll into your town with that special blend of Rock & Roll Soul! It's a great show!! And, if you get a chance, stop by my Grand Funk Web page -- I'm in the process of getting a scanner but I'll keep improving it as I get the time.
Bill-- ...who has heard that the modem Jimi Hendrix used was a purple Hayes. (42) o o o o +--------------------------+----------------------------+ _____ ---- o ----+ |William A. (Bill) Parrette|7177 Heritage Drive | ]OO|_n_n__][. | |email@example.com |Westchester, OH 45069-4012 | _|__|________)< | | *** http://wap.parrette.net/ *** | oo OOOO-| oo\\ | +------------------- 513-779-0780 ----------------------+------------------+
I'm glad to see that GFR is on the net.
I have gray hairs (which means I'm over forty years of
) and I still rememmber a night in Milano,
Italy (what was the date? ... mumble, mumble ...) in
the outdoor cycling arena called Vigorelli.
It was after the performances of Humble Pie, Peter Frampton, and Steve Marriott (ex-Small Faces, not entirely sure). We listened from the outside trying to break some doors or to climb the outside walls -- the policemen were not allowing any more people in because the crowd was too big and several fights had broken out with people trying to see the event without tikets. Maybe you weren't aware of it but in those days, in Europe, there was a social revolution being carried on by students (something like what is happening in Korea today). One of the minor points they were protesting was the high cost of the concert's tikets.
To make a long story short, we finally managed to get into the arena, ... dark,no lights, ... astonishing silence, ... then suddenly: ARE YOU READY? ...
The rest is history!
I hope you enjoyed the story, we can share some more in the future. Thank you for your super job.
Music media's used car salesmen-type critics are likely to have the same kinds of derogatory things to say as their predecessors did about Grand Funk Railroad, now that the band (with fans confused about why all people are not automatically addicted to their playing style) is back on the stage. Into the Mohegan Sun at the Uncasville Reservation casino came Mark Farner, Don Brewer and Mel Schacher, accompanied on keyboards by a guy with sunglasses (Mr. Brewer, announce him on stage) to rock a full auditorium on November 6 in eastern Connecticut.
It's true that nobody who's really listened to the band or has attended one of their amazing concerts in the late 60's or early 70's will ever understand why some people professed to love hating Grand Funk. When people would say that Mark Farner couldn't really play guitar, or that there was a question mark (?) about that bass player with the last name nobody could pronounce right, all one could do is stare at the critic as though you were hearing Al D'Amato amid one of his chuckling spells on C-Span. These persons, obviously, had never read the text, so to speak. To the naive pundits' credit, however, most didn't put themselves too far out on the limb, rarely including Don Brewer's steady drumming in their list of complaints. But Mark and Mel took their share of unfounded abuse.
Well, whatever it was about the band that sent everybody absolutely reeling one way or the other -- it's back.
If you didn't like the energetic and cocky band some 25 years ago, you won't like them now, because somehow by God these 49er's took the stage and gave curious and weathered 60's kids a trunk line to those days of glory for both fans and for the band Grand Funk Railroad. Nothing had been lost but time, and by the second or third song of the night, even that didn't seem to matter so much. No Pet Cemetery II here -- this was the real Grand Funk Railroad.
In all seriousness, this was no sentimental pre-geriatric reunion. Diehard fans were willing to accept that the early magic had likely been lost, yet according to the production department at the Mohegan casino, fans jumped at the chance to pay tribute to the band anyway ($43 for a ticket over the phone), selling out weeks before the concert was held.
But a magic show was included after all. Illumined by the bright green laser/smoke stage setup, the timeless symmetry of the band and its all-star members reemerged. "Grand Funk Railroad is back!" yelled Mark Farner when it became evident everyone felt the bond, and based on the band's performance on their night at Uncasville, the crowd believed him.
Neither Farner's nor Brewer's voice seemed a day over 30, if at first you shut your eyes and drank the harmony, and Schacher's bass drilled the crowd the same way it did at the four concerts I attended from 1969-73. Don Brewer is obviously the most healthy 49-year-old any of us know (at least he looked that way around all the Jerry Garcia types I sat next to at the concert), and not only did he keep the strings and keyboards perfectly synchronized, I also don't think there was one time I looked at him that he wasn't smiling and having the greatest of times, just like the early days. When the concert was over and Brewer came out to greet a small group of Roadkillers and some other fans who were hanging around to get a chance to speak with the band members, he came across as sincere and genuinely affectionate to those who got a chance to speak with him. His wife Sunny was by his side, and for some reason We're An American Couple came to mind. I hope I look like that at 49.
If Brewer looked and played like a world-circuit tennis star, Farner came closest to a champion soccer star, relentlessly dancing across the stage in athletic moves that would have worn any opponent out in a good half-hour. This was no hands-off sport, however, and I think as one of a bunch of people who have listened to his guitar-playing thousands of times (yes some of us do clean our albums), Farner has not only not lost his lightning speed, he's made it even more melodic, more focused. I wondered, for example, if he would still be able to make cleanly the suspended-second "roll" on a blues number like "Time Machine," which really defined the sound that the early usage of the word "funk" was applied to (pre-George Clinton days).
The band started with an impressive rendition of "Are You Ready," and it alleviated all fears that any might have had about their basic ability. When Farner next started the familiar opening to "Time Machine," hitting a 12th-fret G chord in succession before sliding down and playing the song in a bluesy E/A/B pattern, all speculation and suspicion ended. No one closed their eyes anymore to listen. It was the real Mark Farner, in the flesh. When his harmonica came out midway through the song, the crowd got on their feet and moved toward the stage. They would have stayed there too, had the Uncasville Ushers only been able to understand how long some of them had been waiting for a significant decibel fix of genuine blues funk like the one this one turned out to be.
Farner jumped, danced, scooted, slid, and moved sideways in a manner that Michael Jackson took to gaudy extreme. Farner's version is more like "locomoting" than moonwalking -- sliding on invisible tracks of the stage that came to reality as the sounds of that early and raw white-boy funk dripped from his perfectly on-key scream of "You ain't gonna find me-- knockin at yoe door. I'm gone forevuh-- you don't love me no more...". Despite the young Farner's misstep in awarding a taboo title like "T.N.U.C." for this song, when you envision the same young man (still a teenager at 19) on his own knees in a brick rehearsal hall in Flint, Michigan strumming out the steady percussionized guitar licks that exude early jazz "funk," it's much easier to admit that while the apparent title word certainly did mean something raunchy in that day, it was not the gender-biased and politically incorrect word that it's perceived as today. Brewer took a literal head beating during his updated and still perfect drum solo, perhaps appeasing anyone offended by the song's bawdy title.
Other great tunes followed. "Heartbreaker" and a medley of "Paranoid," "Rock and Roll Soul," and "Sin's a Good Man's Brother" got the crowd singing along, and when Farner began the distinctive heavy chords of the long-neglected "Mr. Limousine Driver," the entire audience had no choice but to swoon in time with the rhythm of early and classic Grand Funk. Farner obliged the crowd by crouching in a pre-1970 guitar-riff position that thrilled the front rows. Schacher was laid-back and precise, allowing his fingers to do all the walking and the talking for the night. His only movement on stage was to avoid Farner's bee-line struts.
The band did not play any new material, but they did play many well-received songs from the first five albums. "Inside Looking Out," "Footstompin' Music," "Closer to Home," "Mean Mistreater," "Gimme Shelter," "Bad Time" and "Locomotion" kept the crowd entertained. In fact, the band played at full intensity for over an hour and a half, and they hadn't covered half of the song titles that audience members shouted toward the stage through the night. There was not time for "Into the Sun," "Aimless Lady," Upsetter," "To Get Back In," "Hooked on Love," and a dozen other great songs sought by the crowd.
After the show, the keyboard player, Brewer and Farner met with fans, and the absence of Schacher was noticeable. Schacher apparently did chat with some fans after the show, but not in the same area that Farner, Brewer and the new member met fans. Grand Funk Railroad fans can only hope that all the members of the reconstituted Grand Funk realize how glad their fans are that they are back. According to all accounts, the recent tour that ended in Washington, D. C. on November 7 was as successful in every stop as it was in Uncasville. I'm already looking for information on their next tour. The original Conductors of Funk are back.
I'm a 41 year old GFR fan, been one since 1969 or early 1970. I forget how I got turned on to Grand Funk, but I remember getting "On Time" and playing the record for everybody I knew. Even back then I thought their style of rock and roll was different (and much better) from everybody else's. I paid $2.50 for the album, money I earned from cutting the neighbors yards. Since GFR was putting out albums so frequently, I had to mow a lot of lawns!
The "red album" was next, and soon became a favorite. "Winter and My Soul" is still one of their finest songs. In fact, I consider this album one of their best. The songs are so good, it in itself could be considered a "greatest hits" album.
The "Closer to Home" album brings back a lot of pleasant memories. I had just bought the album in July of 1970. One week later our church youth group left for a retreat to Myrtle Beach, SC. We went one evening to the arcade/pavillion, and playing on the huge sound system was "I'm Your Captain". I still think about that every time I hear that song. It was the perfect setting for that song, the ocean, the seagulls, etc.
Also, I remember a band named "The Dawks" played "Nothing Is the Same" on the beach at the Isle of Palms, SC. They had a singer who was a dead ringer for Mark Farner on vocals. They may have played some other GFR songs, but I don't remember which ones. This band also used to rehearse next door to where I lived, so I could "hop the fence" and go listen to "GFR" two or three nights a week.
I saw Grand Funk for the first time in Charleston, SC. It was November 6th or 7th, 1970. The concert location was "County Hall". It has since been renamed the "King Street Palace". The place was packed! I have never seen so many people in that building at one time. Mark Farner was wearing a black and white jumpsuit and was all over the place. Mel Schacher stayed pretty much in the shadows but his bass guitar rumbled through out the night's concert. Don Brewer played a great solo during TNUC, unbelievable that with so few drums, he could put out so much!
I didn't see GFR again until January 31, 1975 at the "Carolina Coliseum", in Columbia, SC. This was to be their final concert tour before the breakup. The show was similar to the "Caught in the Act" CD except they played "All the Girls In the World Beware" instead of "Black Licorace". It was a great concert and I took a lot of nice photographs, some which I still have today.
In December of 1988, I found a copy of Mark Farner's "Just Another Injustice" in the local Wal-Mart. I learned shortly thereafter he would be giving a concert down in Jacksonville, FL. I was there! It was great to hear "I'm Your Captain' live after so many years. The one thing I noticed was this guy was having a GREAT time. If you closed your eyes you'd swear it was Grand Funk! I took some fine photographs of the show and got to meet Mark afterwards. We talked for about 15 minutes, I took some more photos, got his autograph, and drove the long way home to Summerville, SC. This concert was Jan. 17, 1989.
Next year, he was again in Jacksonville. Jan. 16, 1990 to be exact. I took my younger brother Bill with me this time. I also took some 8x10 black & whites from the previous year's concert. I gave Mark one of them, and got the others autographed. I found out a few years later he had my photograph hanging on the wall behind the desk in his office. What a thrill that was for me. He told me when I gave it to him that he liked the photo and would hang it up when he got home, but I didn't expect it to behind his desk!
He returned south once again May 21, 1993. He was scheduled to perform that evening at the "Township Auditorium" in Columbia, SC. I had made arrangements with his wife to interview him early that afternoon. His bus had arrived late, so setup of their sound and lights took longer than they expected. He asked me if I would like to stay for the sound check, and we could do the interview shortly before the show. The sound check was great, I heard "Save the Land", and parts of "I'm Your Captain" and "Conflict". I was also allowed to take whatever photographs I wanted, even if I wanted to take them from the stage itself. That is what I did. I wound up with some really nice black & whites of Mark from about 3 feet with a 45mm lens on my medium format camera. He was very cordial and asked me several times if that was the angle I wanted, etc. After the sound check was finished we went to a small office and spent about 30 to 45 minutes talking about a variety of subjects, why GFR broke up, his prison ministry, his disgust with the present Presidential administration, and why he thinks it ludicrous that we're sending our jobs overseas and south of the border. He also told me how he wrote the words and music of "I'm Your Captain". He said "Gary, I prayed to God one night to please give me a song that would touch the hearts of millions of people. I woke up about 3 in the morning and wrote the words, went back to sleep and in the morning picked up my guitar and wrote the music. Lo and behold, "I'm Your Captain". It's the only time I've written a song that way, lyrics first, music second."
I'm really excited about the fact that they're back together, hopefully they will be touring down south soon. Like I said before, I've been a fan for a long time, and if anybody deserves to be back together making music, it's them. Hope to see them in concert again real soon.
121 South Main Street
Summerville, SC 29483
Public Square, Wilkes Barre, PA, circa 1969.
The Mad Drummer leaves work at Pomeroy's for lunch. As he heads for Sam's Steaks, he notices a car-load of hippies appearing somewhat perplexed at the Wilkes Boo parking meters. He struck up a conversion with them and discovered they had no change for the meter. They also talked kinda' funny (an accent of sorts).
Being a friendly sort of guy he pulled out an old Pepsi pull tab ring and a nickle, showed the group how the ring was the same size as the nickle and then used the pull tab ring in the meter. The hippies giggled as the Drummer fed the meter with rings. They bought him lunch and invited him to be their guest at that night's concert -- it was BloodRock and they were opening up for Grand Funk Railroad!
The meet at the back door was arranged, the Drummer slipped in past the Magnus Productions security goons, and enjoyed listening to BOTH groups warm up back stage (even witnessed Mark Farner wiggle his bare ass into those skin tight bleached jeans).
He then proceded to an up-close, intimate position -- stage left, behind those f'ing massive black speaker cabinets, witnessing history, brush with greatness -- whatever -- it was to effect him forever ...
Saturday, January 17th, 1998 -- Clearwater, FL (Ruth Eckerd Hall).
The similarities were amazing -- theater-wise. 3000 people and a sold-out performing arts theater. The Drummer had (probably) the shortest hair, a pair of noise-filter/ear-plugs (having sustained damage from the original encounter), and a pretty wife -- who reminded him that she should have brought the Groucho Marx disquise she bought from Spencers.
As the opening from 2001 A Space Oddessy began to play, the lights dimmed as, a mirror ball descended and did its work. The Drummer understood the tongue-in-cheek playfullness. Everyone stood and cheered, taking the band by surprise as Don Brewer had to add a few measures to the opening count for "Are You Ready." The big ass smile on his face and Farner's open mouth said it all. A voice next to the Drummer inquired: "Why didn't you remind me to bring the Marx glasses?" The Drummer pretended not to hear.
It was a greatest hits presentation that lasted 90 minutes -- played by the ORIGINAL 3 members: Mark, Don, and Mel (will we ever have a rock star with that name again?). A fourth member who played rhythm guitar and keyboards descretely in the background provided the necessary fills, violin stuff, etc. note for note.
An American flag that filled the entire back wall of the stage unfurled to the opening drum beat of "We're An American Band." The Drummer hasn't had chills in a while. The songs were done note for note -- not a thing was missing (the hairlines had receeded a bit though). The harmonies were dead-on -- Farner's voice hit every note. He hopped around the stage with energy that Jagger would envy and never dropped a guitar note. Brewer -- what can you say? Thunder Drums! Mel was there as always.
Bottom Line: GO, Pay the Money, you won't be sorry, and take your wife. Mine said as we headed out to the car "I wasted my money on those Groucho Marx glasses, they really were good!" I didn't have the heart to tell her Steve Miller's on tour ...
I was part of that pretentious college crowd in the early seventies. We listened to King Crimson and thought they were good. We listened to music we thought was "deep" and looked for symbols, allusions and levels in the lyrics.
It's not that we didn't know about Grand Funk Railroad. We heard "Closer To Home/I'm Your Captain" plenty enough, thank you (although I'm amazed now at how good it sounds today), along with "Some Kind of Wonderful" all over the FM radio.
But I have to face it. I was part of the mindset that actually feared and resented Grand Funk Railroad. Their lyrics weren't sophisticated enough, their music was too simple (more on those misconception later), and they were just plain vulgar, barechested headbangers ... calling women chiquitas ... claiming to strut like a cock ... and doing so ... these were not the sensitive, progressive men we were trying to be in the seventies. "We're An American Band" only confirmed our worst fears about Grand Funk. They weren't about art or politics or anything meaningful or progressive.
Behind the Music on VH-1 recently aired a Grand Funk tribute and inspired, at age 43, my rediscovery of the band. These are probably hackneyed, been-here done-that ideas for the long-time GFR fans, but listening to the band now, for me, is like listening for the first time. The pureness and purity of the songs, the exuberance in the vocals, the way the band plays as if with one mind, sending energy to and drawing it from each other, these are qualities I somehow had never heard or appreciated before. The songs actually prove to me how far I've come in life. In the seventies, I might have rejected these songs as overly simple and shallow. Some things, however, are deep in ways that are not intellectual, cultural or political. Some things are just deep about life. Like "Walk Like A Man."
In an era where David Bowie, and later Boy George, became pop icons and the critics' favorites, GFR was saying something the intellectuals and critics didn't appreciate; it wasn't politically correct.
But the masses of rock fans didn't care. Grand Funk was their band, playing gutty/from the heart/great American rock and roll (not progressive, not glam, not heavy metal and certainly not pop, but popular) in a language everyone could understand. Everyone got the message except the intelligentsia, and GFR couldn't have cared less about them. Listen to not only the arrogance and contempt but to the joy in Mark Farner's voice as he proclaims, "I'm gonna strut like a cock until I'm ninety-nine!"
True masculinity, of course, is in a state of rapid deterioration all around us, with the likes of Adam Sandler and Howard Stern leading the attack against it. In that light, "Walk Like A Man" sounds more authentic, fresher, and more urgent today than ever.
(You can easily hear Bob Seger or Ted Nugent covering "Walk Like A Man" if you think about it. I know a couple of guys from Michigan, and I think those boys have something in the water up there.)
"We're An American Band" sounded deeply arrogant and strident to people who hoped James Taylor or John Denver would "change the world." It was (of course) the resounding declaration that GFR was not just another American band but the American band in all the best senses. Having now understood "Walk Like A Man," this new fan realizes thet GFR had earned the right to be just that arrogant.
Their music was by no means simple. It was perfect, which made it seem simple. "American Band," "Walk Like A Man," "Footstompin' Music," "Shinin' On" and "Rock and Roll Soul" are brilliantly crafted, straight ahead rock tunes, probably among the top 10 or 12 American songs ever. GFR's covers of other great tunes, from "Locomotion" to "Gimme Shelter," not only paid tribute to other great rockers; it demonstrated Grand Funk's attitude that music must be fun. Grand Funk was happy to play songs that weren't theirs if it meant having more fun at the moment.
GFR now stands as the greatest classic, upbeat, positive, life-affirming, fun-havin', footstompin' American rock'n'roll band. The music retains its life-force, (it's mojo, it's strut) -- the thing I once considered vulgar I now understand was actually overpowering positive energy from the heart. Your kids and mine can enjoy "Footstompin' Music" or "Rock and Roll Soul" at any age, and we'd certainly like our sons (and daughters) to enjoy, and to take to heart, "Walk Like A Man." When GFR plays, "Everybody's invited, the new generation along with the old." It's pure spring water for the soul.
While still on the search for symbols and meanings in GFR, what could be deeper than "Rock and Roll Soul?" This must be the single greatest song about rock and roll ever created by anyone. The exhilaration is overwhelming. And right in the middle of the song, when you've finally become a Grand Funk devotee and realize the lyrics are not filled with symbols or allusions (these guys almost always let the music itself do the talking), there's a nod to old time/good time rock and roll, the kind of verse the Buckinghams, Lovin' Spoonful or Young Rascals would sing.
I know it when I'm feelin' groovy
It's kind of funky like an old-time movie
I can feel it and it's really something
It's really something when my heart starts pumpin', yeah.
Or for that matter, listen to "Bad Time." GFR came from that musical tradition: great fun American rock. GFR took the Box Tops/Paul Revere & The Raiders sound to an entirely new, transcending, longhaired kick-ass level.
It's clear to me now that something deeper was burning inside Mark, Don and Mel than inside most of the rest of us. Something I couldn't quite catch with all the intellectual baggage I carried. Something deeper about life. Something we all deeply need much more today than we needed it even thirty years ago.
To have a rock and roll soul, to walk like a man, and to keep shinin' on.
Dan Allison is a freelance writer living in Sunset
Greetings from Indy ...
I have been meaning to do this for the past week or so. Just sitting down long enough to collect my thoughts and write a letter is a huge task when you typing skills are as *ahem* limited as mine! But I got to experience something about two weeks ago that was both a real eye opener and something that pulled a whole semmingly dissparate group of threads into a seamless whole.
Back to the beginning. I had the weekend off for the Louisville show but almost blew it off. I was still getting over an ear infection and was thinking of a way to justify not making the drive to Louisville. I climbed in the truck and headed south on I-65 and still thought about turning back around as far south as Columbus. But something kept me headed south,and as I got closer to Louisville,my ear was forgotten and the excitement began to build. I fell victim to the time zone shark, however, and got to the fairgrounds too late for the soundcheck. It didn't occur to me that Kentucky is 1 hour ahead since most of Indiana doesn't observe DST. I got to the stadium and there I met Rex Hutto and his son, Kenny. There had been a change in plans and we were going to the #4 entrance and be allowed to get to our seats before the gates were opened to the masses -- Pretty cool!
The set list has been discussed at length and I won't rehash it here. I was quite impressed with "Sky High,"and "One More River" but it was Bruce Kulick who took us to school for a little rock 'n roll arithmetic. And that is: 1 Gibson Les Paul +1 Marshall amp = Rock 'N Roll! His tone was definitely kicking and his leads were fat and hard edged! I know it was loud,even with the reduced hearing in my left ear (which thankfully,has cleared up!) and noted the young boy sitting in front of me covering his ears now and again. I know that many words have been written about what is missing from this new Grand Funk Railroad but I chose to enjoy it for what it was that night -- a tight set played by five guys who obviously are digging what they doing and radiate that enthusiasm to the crowd. The real lesson came at the conclusion of the show at the meet and greet.
I will admit to being nervous about meeting the guys. It was a bit overwhelming at first,but I was taking in both the crowd and the band as well. I was walking towards Max, and heard him telling a woman what a great oportunity it was to play in Grand Funk and how these don't come around every day and must be taken advantage of. I was wearing a Tommy Bolin shirt and that hit home. Max played keyboards in the final line-up of Tommy's band on his last tour and they worked together intermittently in the early '70's. Tommy had the talent but sadly squandered his ability and followed the self destructive path of substance abuse. I told Max that Tommy's example only served to illustrate how lucky we are to have him contributing to this new chapter in GFR's history. Many folks don't realize how long Max has been in the business -- and more and more of us are learning just what a huge talent he really is!
I moved on to chat with Don briefly. I told him that his "head, heart and guts" speech in his video made me think about my older brother who learned to play the drums much the same way that Don did. All you drummers in the house know what I mean -- putting on the albums and playing along, bashing and crashing till it all comes together. What amazed me immediately is how down to earth and sincere he was -- when you spoke to him,you had his undivided attention and their was a total lack of that "me rock star, you fan" attitude. I didn't actually get to chat with Tim, Mel, or Bruce but I came away with something far more important than an autograph or a handshake.
There is a quote attributed to Don in the booklet from TYOF. "We were just the guys in the band who played in the lacal bar and went out and made it big -- we were accessible,we could have been your buddies." There are images that I came away with that illustrate that beautifully: Kenny Hutto getting his Uncle Sam hat signed and beaming with pride; Mel,slender as his everpresent cigarette, chatting amiably with people and graciously accepting a Zippo lighter from Allen Davis; Dena Schacher working the crowd like the consummate hostess and laughing and joking with everyone; J.R. Rose in all his red, white 'n blue glory, a man who lives for the expression "Who IS that guy??;" Bill Parrette's wife telling the security guard "You HAVE to let him in, he's the guy responsible for all this." There is a Mutual Admiration Society here in which the fans dig the band and the band gets a huge charge out their fans. I know this will sound a bit corny, but it was a real family atmosphere. I would be hardpressed to find another band where that same sharing and feeling exist. What we have here is truly amazing and I am honored to be a part of it! I am looking forward to my next show, putting faces to all the names that have flashed across my computer screen, sharing stories and reveling in the experience that is THE AMERICAN BAND!!
If someone knows who this picture belongs to I would be glad to credit them. It was sent to me by someone who wouldn't/couldn't tell me where they got it.