GRAND FUNK RAILROAD
FALLSVIEW CASINO—Avalon Ballroom
Friday June 8th
THE AMERICAN BAND…..As
the British invasion was hitting here in America in
the late sixties there was a little ole power trio from Flint, Michigan
climbing the Billboard charts like a runaway locomotive.
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD dominated FM radio throughout the seventies selling
over twenty-five million records and scoring numerous gold records with hits
like: “I’m your Captain/Closer to my Home”, “Some Kinda Wonderful”, “Bad
Time” and of course their #1 blockbusters “Loco-motion”
and “We’re An American Band”.
*While the accolades rolled in for their work in the
studio, it was the raw energy and power of the band on stage that set them apart
from other touring acts of that era. The band proudly sports the moniker of “loudest
Rock and Roll band in the world” to this day.
*In 1971 GRAND FUNK RAILROAD sold out Shea
Stadium in just seventy-two hours breaking the attendance record held by
the BEATLES, that remarkable feat still stands strong today. This past
summer the band released a must have “Greatest Hits” CD/DVD which
includes a live DVD performance of “I’m Your Captain/Closer to my
Home” from that memorable day at Shea Stadium on July 9,
*The ROCK REPORT had the pleasure to speak with
the “Rock and Roll Soul” of GRAND FUNK RAILROAD, dynamic
drummer/vocalist DON BREWER.
Ross CAT- Thanks DON for your time we look forward to your
visit to the Fallsview Casino this weekend.
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD has made a few historical stops in
the area over the years. A few summers back the band played to a mammoth
crowd at Gateway Park in
and the bands very first
show was right here in
what do you recall about that?
DON BREWER…..Yeah the Canal Series show on the 2004
tour was really great. The setting on the river was absolutely beautiful, it was
a fantastic turn out and the audience rocked right along with us.
*Our first show outside
Michigan was in 1969, the late
who was our manager at the time booked us the gig through a friend. We did a
weekend in BUFFALO and then up to TORONTO to play the Rockpile.
*We had just changed the band name from the PACK to GRAND
FUNK RAILROAD. MEL SCHACHER joined myself and MARK FARNER, we wanted
to give the power trio thing a try to see where it might go. It really started
off as an experimental deal and all of a sudden people started turning their
heads; the music had a unique blend of R&B and Rock and Roll, that’s what
GRAND FUNK was and is still all about.
past year was quite a busy one for you joining the Silver Bullet Band
with BOB SEGER as he made his triumphant return to the road on the
“Face the Promise” tour.
DON BREWER- What a great time, it really was a lot of fun to be
* I had played with the Silver Bullet Band on a couple of
tours back in the 80’s. I also had the pleasure once again to play with
keyboardist CRAIG FROST who was also in GRAND FUNK, so it was
really a reunion of sorts for me.
*I think the band enjoyed breaking out the SEGER
classic catalog songs as much as the crowds loved hearing them once again. The
SEGER team has always had such a professional working atmosphere it
really makes for a wonderful experience.
Ross CAT- Your longstanding relationship with BOB SEGER and
the Silver Bullet Band also included the great honor of jamming with him
on stage in 2004 for his well deserved induction to the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame. What was that evening like sharing the stage on such a
DON BREWER- BOB SEGER really is an extraordinary Rock Star and most
certainly deserved the honor bestowed upon him. For me it was certainly a great
honor to share the stage with him as part of the Silver Bullet Band for such a
Ross CAT- Let’s get back to what should be future Rock and Roll
Hall of Famers GRAND FUNK RAILROAD.
*The band was able to fuse so many musical styles into
its arsenal from muscle Rock and Roll to Funk R& B with a little Dance Hip Hop
mixed in for good measure on the mega-hit “Loco-Motion.
*Starting off as a three-piece Rock outfit on the road, how
did the band manage to accomplish such a diverse sound at such a young age?
*DON BREWER- It really was new for us to be touring on that kind of
level. In 1970 we signed on with Capital Records to do two tours and two albums
a year; we were constantly in the studio or touring. It really was a rigorous
and vigorous six years.
* While that period of time did take its toll we managed to
produce a lot of great music, as you mentioned we took the music in quite a few
different directions. Part of that was due to the rapid changes in FM radio
going from album Rock to a top forty format. To continue to get radio support
we had to Roll with the changes in the industry which led to exploring different
musical styles, yet we always leaned on the R&B which was a natural for us.
*The main objective for me in making music is if you don’t
have the song or the performance it doesn’t really matter what you do to it on
the technical end, the song has to be there.
*We were really fortunate to work some great producers one of
them being the multi- talented TODD RUNDGREN. TR would just crank the
knobs and make the song sound perfect on the first take. The second guy being
the legendary FRANK ZAPPA, neither of the guys come in and tried to
change the model of GRAND FUNK they just gave the band a different
slant. It really was exciting not to mention a unique learning experience
working with strange harmonies and chord combinations.
Ross CAT- The summer of 1973 would see the release of
the bands 7th studio album “We’re an American Band”
whose title track is still a Rock and Roll anthem to this day.
*That album featured TODD RUNDGREN producing and
introduced keyboardist CRAIG FROST who added yet another element to the
already potent GRAND FUNK RAILROAD sound. Was that a decision within in
the band or did RUNDGREN suggest that?
DON BREWER- We knew we wanted to expand the sound of the band to keep
up with radio, that’s why we enlisted RUNDGREN and FROST on keys.
Radio was moving toward the commercial oriented format so we couldn’t keep
putting out the seven minute epic like “I’m Your Captain/Closer to my Home”. We
where very fortuitous in the fact that we maintained the GRAND FUNK Rock
‘n’ Roll Blues thing.
*We felt we we’re creating a unique blend of music, while we
may have had to conform to the direction that radio was going, we didn’t
compromise our music.
*We had just split with producer/manager Terry Knight; by
adding keys it gave the band a whole new vibe.
*We had actually asked PETER FRAMPTON to join but he
had just signed on to do his solo record.
*Again we found ourselves in the experimental mode, we
invited Craig to climb aboard he had played with us in the PACK
You’re not only the muscle on the kit providing
the pummeling precision on the classic cut “We’re An American Band”,
you also wrote it and sing lead. Did you write that song with the
intentions of doing lead vocals?
DON BREWER- Yeah, that was really kind of the way we would approach
things in the band. As a song writer it’s easier to write for yourself then it
is someone else. If Mark Farner wrote the song it was best that he would sing
it, and the same would apply for me.
Ross CAT- Let’s discuss the line-up that is GRAND FUNK RAILROAD
2007, the band keeps “Shinin On” as it tears down the
tour circuit tracks. You’ve really assembled a talented team of musicians that
have maintained the high performance level worthy of the bands legendary live
shows. What can fans expect at the show this Friday night at the Avalon
Ballroom inside the Fallsview Casino?
DON BREWER- I think we really have a tight unit, we’ve been touring
together since 2000. Original member and lead bassist MEL SCHACHER and I our
proud to be playing the GRAND FUNK hits with this group of accomplished
* Singing lead is MAX CARL, I like to call him the last of
the blue-eyed soul singers. MAX also spent sometime with .38 SPECIAL he
co-wrote and sang one of their biggest hits “Second Chance” which we like to
throw into the set. His Rock R&B background and his front man persona made him
a perfect fit for GRAND FUNK RAILROAD.
*On lead guitar we have none other then BRUCE KULICK who
spent more then a decade with KISS. BRUCE is one of the most expansive
players I know, his ability to play Rock, Jazz, Blues, R&B gave him the inside
track to take over for MARK FARNER.
*Tim Cashion plays keys he has also toured with BOB SEGER,
not only is he a stellar player his strong vocal prowess allows us to carry
on with the GRAND FUNK harmonies.
*This truly is a very exciting time, we’ve managed to
assemble a formidable unit of accomplished musicians. I find myself on stage
thinking God this is fun, sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s
*We are really looking forward to our visit. We’re still
true to the school of what GRAND FUNK is all about; we’ve always been an
attack band, we like to get folks up and out of their seats.
*The ROCK REPORT would like to thank
DON BREWER for his valuable time; we would like to also thank Anne
Leighton for making it happen.
* Sounds like GRAND FUNK RAILROAD is full speed ahead,
this is one show you don’t want to miss. For more information on the band check
out their website @
STEPHEN STILLS (CSNY, BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD)
Support Act: DEREK MILLER
SENECA ALLEGANY CASINO
Saturday June 16th
PEACE AND HARMONIES…..The
Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel enjoyed it’s official grand
opening this past March as they offer the finest in dining and entertainment to
the Southern Tier. The stakes get higher this Saturday night when they debut the
“Under the Stars” Outdoor Concert Series as they proudly present
one of music’s high Rock ‘n’ Rollers STEPHEN STILLS.
*STILLS the iconic singer/songwriter has
been a driving force in not only the music industry but as an activist since he
began playing professionally at the age of fifteen. Whether he his sharing the
BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD, CROSBY, STILLS, NASH
YOUNG or as a solo artist his music is made with strong convictions
and social impact.
*STILLS also owns the unprecedented honor of being
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice in the same
evening in 1997 for his countless contributions to music with both the
BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD and of course CSNY.
*While his songwriting ability and vocal collaborations
with the aforementioned groups are that of legendary status, his guitar genius
was also recognized by Rolling Stone in 2003 as he was ranked #28
on the all-time greatest guitarist list.
*The Rock and Roll veteran has showed no signs of slowing
down as he continues to fight for freedom through song. His recent release in
August of 2005 is appropriately titled “Man Alive”; this eclectic
collection of thirteen songs once again finds STILLS yearning for freedom
and tranquility. His poetic passion flows throughout the disc with tracks the
likes of “Feed the People”, “I Don’t get it”, and “Wounded
World”. While this is a solo record for STILLS he invited some
of his longtime friends to the party as NEIL YOUNG and GRAHAM NASH
chime in on a few of the songs. The final track on the record is a captivating
cut titled “Spanish Suite” an eleven minute epic featuring special
guest keyboard/piano guru HERBIE HANCOCK.
*“For What It’s Worth” this disc will fit
nicely in your classic rock music collection. You can also check out the
STEPHEN STILLS website for more upcoming summer tour dates @
*MUSIC IS THE MEDICINE…..Often time’s fans have a tendency to overlook
the support act; don’t make that mistake this Saturday night at the STEPHEN
STILLS show as alluring guitarist DEREK MILLER pours it
on with passion and power. The Native American who proudly
represents his MOHAWK heritage hails from
his power trio will get a chance to strut their stuff in support of his recent
release “The Dirty Looks”. Although his talent has yet to be
tapped here in the States he has been making plenty of noise on
the music front in
since his debut album “Music is the Medicine”. It
was that record that earned him a Juno Award in 2003 for
“Aboriginal Recording of the Year”, not to mention numerous other
*His recent release “The Dirty Looks” is a
masterpiece on many levels. Musically MILLER tears into the songs with
unabashed abandon from the opening tracks power chord on “Devil Come Down
Sunday”; every track is worth the straight through ride to
the final cut “Mystery Train(The Lonely Hearts Club).
*Although MILLER is most noted for his blues
based background this new disc finds him scorching over a spectrum of musical
styles. While his guitar work is outstanding; the songs themselves are
impassioned, written with a brave intimacy while fighting and winning against
his personal demons.
*As present day artists and their music angrily point the
finger at everyone else MILLER chose to look within himself; peeling away
the layers of despair and sharing his self-awareness and self discovery. This
compelling collection of songs has been a spiritual cleansing for this fine
*Although his discs are not yet available in the
they are available for download at the DEREK MILLER
www.derekmillermusic.com, as well as being available
for purchase at
*The ROCK REPORT had the pleasure to speak to our neighbor from north of
the border as his band prepares to head out on tour this summer. The band
includes accomplished bassist KEN HOOVER, the man behind the kit is no
stranger to the Western New York area as drummer DALE HARRISON
of HEADSTONES fame will help “Throw the Hammer Down” on
what promises to be one kickass show.
Ross CAT- Thanks for taking some time out for the Rock Report
we really appreciate it. I see that you’ve toured abroad as well as in
the STATES is this your first visit to
Western New York?
DEREK MILLER- I did play a few years ago as the
folks at the Seneca Niagara Casino invited us up to play. This will be our
first time back in a few years and we are really looking forward to playing the
new material for the people of Upstate
*This is a really exciting opportunity for us I’ve always
been a fan of
STEPHEN STILLS work and I hope our set will get the crowd pumped up for him.
Let’s get into the new disc “The Dirty Looks” it’s
really a potent collection of songs. When I first listened to the disc I was
expecting a blues record and was pleasantly surprised at the diversity of the
music. Was that a conscious decision to move away from being labeled as a blues
DEREK MILLER- Yeah I guess I’ve been pigeonholed as a blues artist
coming out of the gate. Really all I’ve ever cared about is playing and writing
music with a vision. This album really does have an eclectic mix to it and that
comes from having the freedom to combine all the influences that have helped me
grow as an artist. Music is about the freedom to explore and express oneself
and hopefully touch others in doing so.
Ross CAT- The track listing on the album seems to flow flawlessly,
and there is certainly no filler songs, was the song sequence selection a
DEREK MILLER-Yeah I toiled a lot over the whole thing in terms of
nuisances and song arrangements. I’m trying to get to the point where the music
is direct from artist to audience keeping it as pure as possible. I pretty much
had a hands on approach in every aspect of making the record. Mastering the
music is an art form in itself, I feel if I’m involved with the songs from
beginning to end I can give the audience exactly what I intended the songs to
*I’ve been fortunate to work in the different facets of music
I had the honor to work as a producer with KEITH SECOLA, that experience
made me realize how vital it is to see the songs through to the end. I really
recommend that to any musician whether you’re a veteran or just staring out.
Ross CAT- This is a very personal record, when you decided to
change your life did you realize you had to do it through you’re music instead
of stepping away from it?
DEREK MILLER- Yes without
question, art to me is my way of evolving my soul. The more self aware I became
it allowed me to become more emotionally focused.
*More then being a therapeutic tool it was necessary for me as a human
being to be accountable for my actions. I was able to see how those actions
affected my relationships. I’m very proud to say that through the teachings of
my family and my Mohawk heritage it has helped shape me and my music.
Ross CAT- It really is a tribute to your heritage how you’ve overcome
adversity to become a creative force. Tell us about some of your musical
DEREK MILLER- There is so many beginning with my family; my Mother had
a collection of vinyl that really influenced
me. In looking back at a very young age I remember being into KISS.
When I became an adolescent I was just mesmerized by LED ZEPPELIN, the
power behind their music really stirred my soul and I wanted to be part of
something like that one day. I discovered that even though they were considered
the Gods of Heavy Metal their music had a blues core. So I had my stage where it
DIXON, HOWLIN’ WOLF, and ROBERT JOHNSON. I really
covered the gamut of blues and classic rock. It was when I hit my early
twenties that I discovered LINK WRAY his playing has had an enormous
impact on me.
One of the most moving tracks on the
“Dirty Looks” disc is “Ocean(All Night Long)”, it’s said
to be a prayer to your grandfather who passed away during your teen years, tell
us about what that songs means to you?
DEREK MILLER- My very first guitar was a Fender that belonged to my
grandfather. Although he passed when I was young I feel his spirit still guiding
me through the music that I create on that Fender guitar.
*“Ocean” is exactly that a tribute to him, the funny thing is that I
didn’t recognize that until I had entered rehab. I was finally able to realize
and accept what unconditional love and understanding is in my relationships.
*The Rock Report would like to thank
DEREK MILLER for his time. You can go to
www.senecaalleghanycasino.com for ticket information
for the show. Be sure to check out the other acts who will be performing at the
“Under the Stars Concert Series”; which include:
July 27th------------JO DEE
August 4th----------CHRIS ISSAK
August 26th -------BEACH BOYS
**************PEACE and HARMONIES*****************
RED ROCKER ROYALTY…..This
past March VAN HALEN one of the most celebrated Rock bands in history was
rightfully inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. What
made the ceremony unique is the fact that two different eras of the influential
band where recognized and honored.
*While original front man David Lee Roth chose not to accept this
esteemed honor in person, the man who succeeded and launched VAN HALEN to
its greatest level of success, SAMMY HAGAR graciously did. Both HAGAR
and bassist MICHAEL ANTHONY stood proud representing VAN HALEN
with absolute dignity and respect under the most difficult of circumstances.
*The Red Rocker has never been one too bask
long in the glory of day’s gone by. While this October will mark his 60th
birthday SAMMY shows no signs of down shifting as he continues
“Livin’ it Up” with an enduring zest for life. His zealous live
performances consistently confirm that “There’s only One Way to Rock”,
the Red Rocker way.
*This Tuesday SAMMY HAGAR and the WABOS
will release their new DVD “Livin’ it Up!!! In
festivities will include a RED carpet extravaganza which includes
a screening and live performance by HAGAR and the WABOS. The next
day will find SAMMY “Standing on Top of the World” at
Busch Stadium as a special guest of the
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS.
DVD was shot during last years sold out summer trek which saw SAMMY bring
the Cabo Wabo Cantina sensation to the sheds and stadiums across
the U.S. The
set list is heavy on the hits that have put HAGAR at the top of the tour
circuit for decades; from MONTROSE to VAN HALEN chased with choice
cuts from his sublime solo career.
* The second half of the show is unequivocally
“Unchained” as MICHAEL ANTHONY emerges joining HAGAR
and the WABOS to form “The Other Half”. The two former
VAN HALEN members tear it up giving fans the “Best of Both Worlds”.
*The bonus features on the disc are made of tropical
“Dreams” with the “Got Cabo” video tour of Cabo San
Lucas, and the “Tequila Made Me Do it” a video tour of the
Cabo Wabo Tequila Factory. Also included are interviews with
SAMMY and the WABOS, MICHAEL ANTHONY, and the videos for “Sam I Am”
and “Tropic of Capricorn”.
*The ROCK REPORT caught with our bud SAMMY
on a beach break to chat about the new DVD; and what the rest of the year
has in store for the Red Rocker.
Ross CAT- Thanks SAMMY for your time. Congratulations on
you’re well deserved induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of
SAMMY- Well thank you man; it’s quite an honor to be part of such
an elite group of artists. That whole week was really surreal for MIKE
and me. I was sitting in the audience watching the collage of previous
inductees like THE WHO, THE STONES, LED ZEP I’m thinking “Oh My GOD” I’m
part of this group now. To be able to join my hero’s for eternity in this
shrine I have to say really “kicked my ass”. Even talking about it now still
*It really dawned on me after the ceremony when KEITH
RICHARDS approached me backstage and said “Good Job up there SAMMY”, that’s
when I thought to myself now where talking.
Ross CAT- As per usual in the VAN HALEN camp there was no
shortage of controversy at the ceremony as the other members of the band
chose not to attend for various reasons. I thought that you and MIKE did
an admirable job under tough circumstances.
SAMMY- Yeah it caused for some adlibbing on our part as you can
imagine. The crazy thing about it is that we just didn’t know what the hell was
going to happen. For better and for worse VAN HALEN has been and always
will be a very unpredictable group of people.
* I didn’t know if in the middle of MIKEY’S or my
speech someone (David Lee Roth) might come flying out of the rafters
screaming “this is my band”. It was really difficult to stay focused which made
things a little uncomfortable at first, but quite honestly I think we pulled it.
Ross CAT- What I thought was especially cool is your attire for the
ceremony. You had on your casual suit coat but underneath you wore a “0U812”
tour t-shirt displaying all the members from the VAN HAGAR era.
SAMMY- I’m glad you caught that, that’s exactly what I was shooting
for. I was digging through my closet thinking to myself I’m going to find a
VH shirt with a picture of the four of us on that sucker. If they weren’t
going to show up I was going to find a way to honor them and the amazing period
of time we spent together making music.
Ross CAT- As if the ceremony hoopla wasn’t eventful enough, MIKE
and yourself left the Big Apple and headed straight for
Cabo San Lucas to celebrate with the “Redheads” on the 2nd
annual “Are We Having Any Fun Yet” cruise. That really had to be
the icing on the cake to be able to share the euphoria with the hardcore
SAMMY- I couldn’t have
scripted it any better myself as far as the timing was concerned. It really
was an awesome week but like you said it was rough. I just love how the cruise
has built up each year, I have to find a way to do the shows a little later in
the day. I’m just not a morning person. It’s not an easy task singing at
to mention throwing down a couple of shots of Cabo Wabo with the fans.
you’re not touring this summer fans can enjoy the DVD that comes out on
Tuesday. Naturally the
concert itself is impressive, I also enjoyed the bonus features on the disc.
*The “Got Cabo” video tour was breath taking; I
especially liked the fact that you let the tranquil sounds of the sea speak for
itself, instead of putting music to it.
SAMMY- I had a blast putting this together it really is one of the
best live performances from the tour. We had fifteen cameras rolling so it
gives a unique panoramic perspective of what goes down at one of our concerts.
As you know it’s a thirty ring circus when we take CABO WABO on the
road, we wanted to capture as much of the madness as we possibly could.
*As for the bonus features I thought that would be something
special to share between me and my fans. You can revisit the places that you
enjoyed when you came to visit us, or if you’ve never been to CABO then this
gives folks an idea of what it ‘s like.
*For anyone else to put that into a DVD wouldn’t make much
sense. I didn’t want it to become a travel brochure, what I did want is to
share what turns me on about CABO and the way that my family and I love to live.
Ross CAT- It looks like the people of
going to have a screamin’ time with SAMMY and the WABOS at the
premiere next week. Tell fans what you have planned?
SAMMY- It’s really going to be an exciting time. That town has just
been so awesome to me throughout my career. It’s almost to the point that it’s
become my hometown they treat me so damn good. They really roll out he RED
ROCKER carpet for me; hell I think the CARDS might even let me suit up for the
game if I asked, well that might be pushing it..
*We have some really special things planned, the way we are
going to do the premiere will be something a little different. The band and I
are going to play a little acoustic set before the premiere. There is no way we
can duplicate that ST. LOUIS gig; it was the last show of that leg of
the tour so we where on fire. What we decided to do is strip it down, sort of an
unplugged acoustic jam session.
*I’ll also give you a little exclusive, we are debuting a
couple of new songs in the set one is called “Open” and the other is “When the
Sun don’t Shine”. We’ve been rehearsing the past three weeks and are ready to
head to ST. LOUIS and prime up the folks at the premiere.
Ross CAT- It sounds like your taking a little well deserved time this
summer to spend with your lovely wife and kids. What’s next on the agenda for
SAMMY- Yeah, we’re going to do theater tour this fall some sixty
shows. We want to try and hit some of the cities that don’t have amphitheaters,
try to get into some other markets that we couldn’t visit last summer. I think
the whole intimacy of a smaller venue will really spice up the CABO WABO shows.
*Ultimately I want to do a huge blowout show next July at
BUSCH Stadium and bring along a bunch of my Rock and Roll friends for a festival
*The ROCK REPORT as always would like to thank
SAMMY HAGAR for being so giving with his time. We would also like to
thank Jessica Erskine of Rogers & Cowan for making
*Be sure to check out the SAMMY HAGAR website @
www.redrocker.com for upcoming birthday bash dates, as
well as all the other RED news.