Niagara Gazette — This Friday, the legendary rock band Grand Funk Railroad returns to the region for an 8 p.m. performance at the Seneca Niagara Casino Showroom.
Google the term “American Band,” and atop the results you will find Grand Funk Railroad. Known for great party hits like “We’re an American Band,” and “Some Kind of Wonderful,” GFR is the quintessential American rock band. Their history has ties to Western New York, including their first performance under the GFR moniker which took place in Buffalo.
“I remember the show well, Mark (Farner) and I were just coming out of a band called The Pack and converting it from this five-piece ‘60s thing to a power trio. It was interesting doing that first gig because it was a mishmash of the old and new arrangements. It was kind of funny,” recalled GFR’s drummer and lead vocalist Don Brewer during a recent phone interview from his home in South Florida.
Brewer also recalled an early performance at Kleinhans Music Hall when the band opened for Arlo Guthrie (an odd pairing to say the least). He also has fond memories of performing at the Canal Concert series in North Tonawanda and later in Lockport.
The band’s current lineup has been together for 13 years, and features Brewer, founding GFR bassist Mel Schacher, former .38 Special vocalist/rhythm guitarist Max Carl, former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick and Tim Cashion from Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band (of which Brewer is also a member of).
The band’s roots are in Flint Michigan, where Schacher, Brewer and former member Mark Farner formed one of rock music’s first great power trios.
“In the early days GFR was kind of a jam band thing. Every night we would go out and play these extended jams and we never played the songs the same way twice. Back then “Inside Looking Out” was never the same. I’m not sure when that went away, but at some point people wanted to hear songs just like the records. I mean bands like Dave Matthews still do the jam band thing, but it’s kind of a shame most of that went away,” Brewer said.