Tag Archives: Grand Funk Railroad

We’re getting closer to my home

It’s been a long drought for decent shows up here where the interstate ends.

Since Joan Jett stopped by last September, there hasn’t been much to get excited about. Not even the Eagles, announced last week with the cheapest ticket at $89.

So we wait and wait and wait for word of something worth seeing, and something affordable. And then, today, some light in the darkness.

You know it’s been a long drought when you get stoked about seeing Grand Funk Railroad, which is playing at the Fond du Lac County Fair this summer. That’s about an hour south of here.

As with many bands of that vintage, the first thing I often check is who’s in the band these days. I was pleasantly surprised to see a lineup that includes original members Don Brewer on drums and Mel Schachter on bass.

Now get a load of the rest of the band, another pleasant surprise: Bruce Kulick, formerly with Kiss, on guitars; Max Carl, formerly with .38 Special, on lead vocals; and Tim Cashion, formerly with Bob Seger and Robert Palmer, on keyboards.

It’s a group that’s been together for 15 years.  There’s something to be said for that kind of staying power. I learned that six years ago, when I saw the Grass Roots at another county fair. Lead singer Rob Grill was the only original member, but he and his bandmates had been together for 25 years, far longer than the original lineup. They were tight.

Hoping for the same from Grand Funk.

We’ll likely hear all the singles — “We’re An American Band,” “The Loco-Motion” and “Some Kind Of Wonderful” among them — but I hope we also get to hear some of the heavier, more substantial stuff from the early ’70s. Back in the days of free-form FM radio, Grand Funk was one of the bands you heard after 10 p.m., when the DJs would play anything and everything. Something like this.

Grand Funk RR Survival LP

“Feelin’ Alright,” Grand Funk Railroad, from “Survival,” 1971. Also available digitally. This is, of course, their cover of the Traffic song written by Dave Mason. (The buy link is for a remastered reissue from 2002.)


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Filed under March 2015, Sounds

Pumped no longer?

As we sat on the patio at our friends’ cottage up north earlier this week, our hostess told us about her $300 list. That is, acts she’d pay $300 to see. Her list includes Elton John, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones and Stevie Wonder.

(We didn’t have the heart to tell her we saw Tom Jones for a lot less than $300.)

But taking our family of three to see Stevie Wonder at Milwaukee’s Summerfest on Thursday night came close. Add gas and food, and it topped $300. As did our trip to Iowa last month to see Neil Sedaka.

Our friend has her $300 list. I have a list of bands I’d travel to see. But now that it costs $50 just to fill the gas tank, I’m starting to think such road trips might be coming to an end.

We don’t often travel to see a show, either. Over the last 30 years, we’ve traveled only to see acts not likely to stop in our corner of Wisconsin. That short list: Jimmy Buffett, Joe Jackson, Tina Turner, KISS, AC/DC, the Eagles, Queen with Paul Rodgers, and now Neil Sedaka and Stevie Wonder. Each one was well worth the time and money.

But with that money becoming increasingly tight, we’ll be staying …

Closer to home.

“I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home),” Grand Funk Railroad, from “Closer to Home,” 1970.

This terrific album was released 38 years ago this summer, with this cut dropped as a single in July of that year.


Filed under June 2008, Sounds

Before things went south

Our library had its annual used book sale earlier this month, and I took a break from work to check it out. They promised used CDs, and I was curious to see whether there was any vinyl to be had.

Lo and behold, there was! If you were into show tunes or, inexplicably, Emmylou Harris, that is. But not really anything compelling. Until I got to the back of one of the three crates.

There, I found “Closer to Home,” the third album from Grand Funk Railroad, released in 1970. It features the band’s classic power-trio lineup of Mark Farner on guitars and keyboards, Mel Schacher on bass and Don Brewer on drums.

When I started getting a taste of free-form FM radio in 1972, Grand Funk Railroad was one of the bands you heard after 10 p.m., when the DJs would play anything and everything.

We thought of Grand Funk Railroad as one of ours. After all, they were from Michigan, just across the lake. Thinking back on the Michigan bands from those days, well, wow … The MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, Bob Seger’s early bands and Grand Funk Railroad.

By the mid-’70s, though, a different kind of Midwestern rock band seemed to take over. The music started coming from south of Wisconsin, and some might say the music went south.

Coming from Illinois, they delivered a bunch of different sounds — REO Speedwagon, Styx, Head East, Starcastle. Not as crunchy as the Michigan bands. (However, as we have discussed here before, some of the early REO stuff has its merits.)

I greatly prefer the heavier, more substantial Grand Funk Railroad of the early ’70s to the Grand Funk that cranked out all those singles — “We’re an American Band” and “The Loco-Motion” among them — in the later ’70s. After Grand Funk went south.

That’s why I laid down my 50 cents and picked up a well-worn copy of “Closer to Home.”

So sit back and enjoy a little something we might have heard late at night in the early ’70s. Some of the instrumental bits sound like tunes that came along 20 years later during the days of grunge.


“I Don’t Have to Sing the Blues,” Grand Funk Railroad, from “Closer to Home,” 1970.

And tonight on The Midnight Tracker: Side 2 from “Closer to Home,” which winds up with the classic “I’m Your Captain.”

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Filed under November 2007, Sounds