by Ross CAT

by Ross CAT

Friday June 8th

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, 1971.
    *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
North Tonawanda; and the bands very first show was right here in Buffalo NY, what do you recall about that? 
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 TERRY KNIGHT 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.
  Ross CAT-
This 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 part of.
    * 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 momentous occasion?
  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 special event...
  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
back in
Ross CAT-
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 musicians.
    * 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 real.
    *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 @

*******************PEACE and HARMONIES*******************

Support Act:
Saturday June 16th

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 stage with
and 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
Canada, 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 Canada 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 accolades.
    *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 young artist.
     *Although his discs are not yet available in the
they are available for download at the DEREK MILLER website @, 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?
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
New York.
    *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.
Ross CAT-
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 artist?
  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 conscious decision?
  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 be.
    *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 influences?
  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 was WILLIE
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.
Ross CAT-
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 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 21st ------------WYNONNA
July 27th------------JO DEE
August 4th----------CHRIS ISSAK
August 26th -------

**************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
ST. LOUIS”. The festivities will include a RED carpet extravaganza which includes a screening and live performance by HAGAR and the WABOS.  The next day will find SAMMYStanding on Top of the World” at Busch Stadium as a special guest of the ST. LOUIS CARDINALS.
The 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 Fame.
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 humbles me.
    *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 HAGAR fans?

  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
noon, not to mention throwing down a couple of shots of Cabo Wabo with the fans.
Ross CAT.-
Although you’re not touring this summer fans can enjoy the DVD that comes out on Tuesday.  Naturally the ST. LOUIS 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
are 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 the REDROCKER?
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 type show.
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 it happen.
    *Be sure to check out the SAMMY HAGAR website @ for upcoming birthday bash dates, as well as all the other RED news.


**************PEACE and HARMONIES***************

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