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GRAND FUNK RAILROAD Live At The Ottawa Bluesfest

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Saturday, August 3, 2013 @ 7:25 AM

Legendary 70's Boogie Rockers GRAND FUNK RAILROAD Get Into Some Good Singin' , Good Playin' At Ottawa Bluesfest, Lebreton Flats, Ottawa, Canada, July 4, 2013

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"Nobody knows the band GRAND FUNK? The wild, shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner? The bong-rattling bass of Mel Schacher? The competent drum work of Don Brewer? Oh man." - Homer Simpson

TV's famous animated doughnut-eating father really had his work cut out for him when he tried desperately to become more of a central father figure in his son's burgeoning teenage life after being taken down several proverbial notches over his musical tastes in the classic Simpsons episode "Homerpalooza". As the title suggested, Homer, having developed a sudden midlife crisis upon realizing that what he used to perceive as being "hip" had long ceased to be so, joins the famous 90's travelling music festival Hullapalooza as a sideshow act in which he takes a cannonball to the gut. Eventually the act takes its toll on Homer and even moreso on Bart who has a sudden change of heart and begs his hapless father to stop his sideshow act for the sake of his health.

Luckily all I had to risk from understanding the musical awesomeness of GRAND FUNK RAILROAD's performance at Bluesfest's opening night was sunburn; that is, once I could get some time away from babysitting my 11-month old niece. Once I did, I made it to Lebreton Flats in time to catch the band wrap up their opening number "Bottle Rocket" though I noticed that the line-up of the GRAND FUNK RAILROAD of today was slightly different from the original GFR line-up of old. For one, frontman Mark Farner had long since vacated the band with his successor being Max Carl (ex-.38 SPECIAL) who bore a resemblance to Antonio Banderas and resisted the urge to take his shirt off during his entire performance. As well, the line-up has boasted keyboardist Tim Cashion and former KISS axeslinger Bruce Kulick among its ranks for the past 13 years which would explain how I managed to catch fellow KNAC.COM contributor/rock journalist Mitch Lafon in a photo I also took of the guitarist. Other than that, Mel Schacher's bass is still bong-rattling but due to the heatwave Ottawa was experiencing at the time which raised the potential risk of sudden grass and brush fires folks were strongly encouraged to leave the bongs at home. Don Brewer's drumwork is still competent enough for the Appice brothers to revisit their family tree to check for his name in it.

For a good 70 minutes the current incarnation of GFR bore their rock 'n roll soul for the crowd, treating them to much footstompin' music as the crowd's appreciation kept shinin' on. Lest we forget that their own cover of LITTLE EVA's "The Loco-Motion" did encourage Kylie Minogue to cover it again in 1988 despite not getting the opportunity to see her wild or shirtless that day. But since the GFR version is way better we'll let that slide. Meanwhile, Don Brewer's competent drumwork is clearly too much for just one man to harness in that following his own drum solo that pretty much everyone got their hands on a percussion instrument (including Bruce Kulick on tambourine as bizarre as the image may look) and played their way through the tribal-influenced funky jam "Devil's Daughter". After Bruce Kulick resumed guitar duties and flexed his fret muscles with a couple of improvised riffs the band launched into their cover of the ANIMALS' 9-minute underrated opus "Inside Looking Out" followed by Don Brewer's acapella intro to "Some Kind Of Wonderful".

The 8-minute sunbathed crooner "I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home" and the anthemic "We're An American Band" closed out the show. And it being Independence Day in the US at the time, that was exactly how a GRAND FUNK RAILROAD show anywhere in the world - down to Don Brewer's oversized novelty Uncle Sam top hat he wore during the song - should close. Anything less would be like TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA leaving out "Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24" from their set because it was Boxing Day - and I've even seen them play that song during a concert on Remembrance Day once.

Inspired by gritty 60's Motown soul, then in turn inspiring VAN HALEN, POISON and JACKYL amongst others to carry on the title of the original ultimate party band, credited for launching the genre of stoner rock alongside BLACK SABBATH and while endlessly duplicated yet never matched in their genre no matter who the captain is....GRAND FUNK RAILROAD have a solid history of helping people party down at every town they've come to. Even with Homer Simpson's persuasion Roger Daltrey wouldn't be above doing the odd GFR cover now and then either.



  • "Bottle Rocket"
  • "Rock 'N Roll Soul"
  • "Footstompin' Music"
  • "Shinin' On"
  • "The Loco-motion" (LITTLE EVA cover)
  • "Walk Like A Man"
  • Don Brewer drum solo
  • "Devil's Daughter"
  • Bruce Kulick guitar solo
  • "Inside Looking Out" (THE ANIMALS cover)
  • "Some Kind Of Wonderful" (SOUL BROTHERS SIX cover)
  • "I'm Your Captain/Closer To Home"
  • "We're An American Band"

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