08.20.14 - Vintage Rock Interview 2014
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08.01.14 - Mark Farner And Mitch Ryder Are Happy Together!

07.30.14 - Bravo Maestro~Rest In Sweet Peace...

07.28.14 - A Rock Patriot Speaks!
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Mark Farner - A Rock Patriot Speaks
By Steve Roby, BAM MAGAZINE, July 26, 2014


Mark Farner was the lead singer, lead guitarist and songwriter of Grand Funk Railroad. In 1965, he started his music career by playing in the band Terry Knight & the Pack. Four years later, Mark formed his own band, Grand Funk Railroad, featuring Mel Schacher on bass and drummer Don Brewer. In 1973, Craig Frost joined the band as the keyboard player. GFR was one of the most successful American bands of all time, selling over 25 million records, which earned them 12 Platinum and 15 Gold albums.

I had the pleasure of seeing Mark perform recently on the Happy Together tour at Saratoga's Mountain Winery (see BAM's review). A few weeks after his concert, I interviewed him and got a better understanding of his perspective on life and the music scene, then and now. His responses are genuine and uncensored.

Mark mentions several life-changing experiences since his GFR days. On July 3, 2010, Jesse Farner, Mark's youngest son, suffered a fall and injured his spinal chord, becoming quadriplegic. The Farners, like many performing artists, were without medical insurance. (There's info at the end of this interview if you'd like to help out with a donation for Jesse.) After years of heart problems, Mark underwent successful heart surgery in 2012, and received a pacemaker. He refers to having an out-of-body experience during this time frame.


BAM: How does touring now differ from the Grand Funk Railroad days?

Mark Farner: In many ways. [laughs] You kinda got to watch what you're saying today. Things are misconceived as far as the message goes because there's so much crap in the air... politically speaking. People go sideways because you say one word that's not in their "vocabulary," and then they type you as a hate speech guy. That didn't exist in our heyday, Steve. I got out on stage, and said what I wanted to say, whatever it was. There was "underground radio" back then... no Top 10 stuff on FM... just some DJs stoned out of their minds playing long cuts... it was more free, for sure, because it was prior to the deregulation of the FCC in 1995. Since '95, we've seen the evaporation of the moral conscience.

BAM: Do you still get excited about playing live, and how is the Happy Together tour going?

Farner: I do get excited. This is rare for me. To be with guys that are seasoned musicians that I respect and have listened to their music. I don't care how many times I hear it... all those moments when I first heard those songs... the memories start coming back, and I think that's what it's doing for the audience, too. Although I'm the youngest guy out there at 65, I'm performing with guys that are still hitting their notes, and the proof is getting stronger every day.

BAM: I was moved by your patriotism in the intro for "I'm Your Captain" and how well that song fits even today. Can you talk about your pro-veterans stance?

Farner: My father was a WWII veteran, and drove a tank in the 7th Armored Division. He returned from war with four bronze medals. He was in four major battles when most tank drivers didn't see a second one, and was very fortunate to get home. My mother was the first woman in the United States to weld on Sherman tanks in Flint, Michigan. I remember seeing my mother on the front page of the Flint Journal standing up on a Sherman tank. It was cool to be part of the pride for someone who has served. I think we should be proud of each of our servicemen. We may not believe in the wars, or the reason, or the purpose, but, by God, we got to believe in our kids.

BAM: You describe yourself as a different kind of Christian. Can you define what that means?

Farner: I believe to have the mind of Christ is to be in love, and I allowed my heart to receive the message of love. If you go to church, you get put into further "debt." It's a four-letter word, but if you believe in Christ, there is no debt. We don't owe. Because I passed from my body, and came back, I feel like I'm cheating. I already know what's ahead of me because I've been there. I had a giant taste of it. Stress is the number one killer in the U.S. and that's brought on by debt consciousness. It's an imaginary thing that gets to our psyche, and we reckon ourselves to be in debt, not just financially, but allowing ourselves to be pushed around by people and feeling that we have to respond to it. I believe love owes no one, and it's unconditional. It's a strange adventure while we're in the "bone suit." Some people think that this is all there is, and I'm a different Christian in that respect. I'm convinced of the total forgiveness on the other side of life... the continuation. Outside of this bone suit, we can't have that type of perspective because it's just not available. Upon graduation, there is a reward.

BAM: I like the term "bone suit."

Farner: My son and I are writing a song called "Doin' Time in the Bone Suit." [laughs]

BAM: Speaking of your son, how is Jesse?

Farner: After a kidney stone operation, his body was recovering from the infection. He became septic with a 105 temperature. He told his mom, "Just cover me up. I'll burn it off." He's stable and doing well now. We're learning how to live with it.

BAM: Grand Funk still holds a record for selling out Shea Stadium faster than anyone else, including the Beatles. What sticks out in your mind about that 1971 show?

Farner: The adventure from the heliport from the East River to the stadium. The side door stayed open on this huge helicopter all the way, and when we got there, we looked down, and thought, "Holy shit, man!" Humble Pie was on stage, and set up on second base. The stadium was rocking, I mean visually rocking... bouncing up and down, and we could see it from the air. We landed in the parking lot where the limo was supposed to be, but there was no limo! The guy who was with us ran down to the phone booth on the corner, and within three or four minutes, there were cop cars with lights and sirens going. So, we jumped in the back, pulled into Shea Stadium, and the crowd went crazy at the sight of Grand Funk jumping out of police cruisers.

BAM: Isn't there a film of this show sitting somewhere?

Farner: Yeah, it's in the hands of a corporation, and under the control of Don and Mel, who are trying to present a different Grand Funk to the world, and that's why I don't think we have it available. It would make money, and isn't that what corporations are supposed to do?

BAM: What was it like working with Frank Zappa and Todd Rundgren in the studio?

Farner: When Rundgren came to the studio in Michigan, it was a marriage the moment he got out of his car. We took him fishing and he became part of the family... the way Michiganers do it. He was easy to work with and was compatible to what we were thinking about for the 1973 album We're An American Band

Everybody thought Frank was out there, but he never did a drug in his life. He didn't drink anything except for coffee, and I think that may have contributed to his prostate cancer. He drank more coffee during the course of the day than any 10 people should. He had one of those coffee-makers sitting on top of the producer's desk, and he was habitually checking it, and when it would get so far down, he'd send for the engineer to make another pot. Black coffee... all day and all night.

BAM: I knew he smoked a lot.

Farner: He smoked like a broken stove.

BAM: Are you recording any new material?

Farner: Just writing at this point, because my time is used up. We're planning on recording, and I have a couple heart-wrenching songs that came to me, and my son's circumstances have hit on me, too.

BAM: What's the status of your video documentary? I know there was a fundraiser awhile back. (To see a clip from a GFR documentary, go here)

Farner: That is on hold. We broke away from the project because there were some things going on... Our finances are pretty much used up here with Jesse because he doesn't have insurance, and we don't, either. We're paying a lot of money to keep him going. There's a lot of things I'd like to do for him, like build a boardwalk by our house for him to go down by the creek. That's where our kids spent most of their lives. He has a sit-and-puff chair, and he goes out with his mom till about three in the morning, burning a bonfire, and having a good ol' time. He's still taking advantage of his life.

BAM: Are there any rock bands you enjoy listening to today?

Farner: My son is always listening to new music like Blackstone Cherry. Their drummer is a badass! They remind me a little of .38 Special, but with a new Southern Rock twist. They've sold millions of albums in Europe, but not too many people know about them here. Their drummer is John Fred Young, who is the son of The Kentucky Headhunters's rhythm guitarist, Richard Young. They got a message, brother, like Grand Funk's socially conscious messages.

BAM: OK. It's time for a quick lightning round of questions.What was the first record you bought?

Farner: Elvis' "Hound Dog."

BAM: The first car you owned?

Farner: A '49 Chevy with a three-speed transmission.

BAM: The first guitar you purchased?

Farner: A Musicraft Messenger guitar. I used it on the first Grand Funk albums.


The best way for folks to help Jesse Farner would be to send the funds directly to Jesse at his bank. The bank is set up to receive checks and deposit them on his behalf. They would not be tax deductible if sent directly to Jesse, but funds are made available directly to him.

The bank info is as follows:
JESSE FARNER
C/O THE BANK OF NORTHERN MICHIGAN
406 Bay Street
Petoskey,‎ MI‎ 49770 United States
One Big Happy Together Tour~Review

07.18.14 - TEASER VIDEO; SOME REEL ANIMALS FISHING
SHOW AIRS THE WEEKEND OF 7/26/2014~ CLICK REEL ANIMALS LOGO FOR STATIONS THAT BROADCAST REEL ANIMALS FISHING!
Mark's GRAND SLAM With A Life Time Catch~Speckled Trout! "My trifecta!"
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07.17.14 - Mark Monday's LIVE and ARCHIVED!
Click on the image to experience The Mark Mondays Show Archives!
Mark Monday's On Sound Cloud!
Visit Fritzrocks to hear Mark iPhone in at 4:30 for Mark Monday's!

07.11.14 - Mark Loves D'Addario!
Steve Lobmeier And Mark Rock On!
"I LIKE THE D'ADDARIO NS MICRO TUNER SO WELL I GAVE IT TO ALL THE ARTIST'S AND CREW ON MY CURRENT TOUR...HAPPY TOGETHER! I'M ALSO A DEVOTED USER OF D'ADDARIO EXL140 STRINGS, THE BEST STRINGS ON THE PLANET! THANKS D'ADDARIO AND STEVE LOBMEIER FOR DELIVERING THEM TO THE GIG...TALK ABOUT SERVICE." ~Mark Farner

06.23.14 - Grand Funk's Mark Farner recall's Goffin
THE LOCOMOTION!
Gerry Goffin died last week, but at last night's Happy Together Tour stop at NYCB Theatre at Westbury, one of his biggest hits was very much alive.

Mark Farner, on this year's bill with Gary Lewis, Mitch Ryder, Chuck Negron and tour-hosting The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, opened his segment on the show with "The Loco-Motion," the 1962 No. 1 hit by Little Eva that Goffin and Carole King wrote, and that Farner, with Grand Funk Railroad, covered for a No. 1 hit again in 1974-after which Kylie Minogue took it to No. 3 in 1988.

"All those hit versions, three different times and three different decades," Farner said before the show at Westbury.

"It just shows the power of the song-God rest Gerry Goffin's sweet soul!"

Farner had "always loved" the song because it was a dance song-and he was a dancer.

"As a young dancer, I couldn't wait until 'The Loco-Motion' came on because it made me feel like dancing," he said. "And Little Eva had the perfect voice for the first go-round--and Goffin & King-whom we didn't know were husband and wife, but just a couple of songwriters-wrote it."

The Goffin and King personal partnership, when known, "made it even that much better for us--and me personally as lead singer when Grand Funk covered it," continued Farner. The track came from the band's 1974 Shinin' On album, which was produced by Todd Rundgren.

"I was walking back from the farmhouse to the studio out in the middle of the country, and singing at the top of my lungs--and the guys were standing out in the back and having a smoke and started singing the background vocals," he recalled. "Todd came walking out and said, 'What the hell is that?' I said, 'You're kidding me! That's Little Eva's 'Loco-Motion.' He said, 'We'll do it right now!'"

"I said, 'Let's party, man!' and we did a one-take deal with Todd singing high falsetto and clanging ashtrays and being a clown like he always is and doing great things."

"The Loco-Motion," of course, described a train-like line-dance that became popular because of the song.

"My mother--God rest her soul--always encouraged me to dance," said Farner, who grew up in Flint, Mich.

"She said, 'There's not enough guys on the dance floor! You could dance.' She encouraged me and my older sister--by 17 months, I never let her forget! We'd go to dance contests in Flint and 'The Loco-Motion' was one of the songs we loved to dance to--and we won dance contests. I always fancied myself a dancer, because guys in school were too scared to get out there, and the guys who did didn't have a hard time getting chicks! The successful dudes danced."

Farner has said that "Take You Out," his last single, was made to compel men to get out on the dance floor.

"Part of my performance is dancing," Farner said before his Westbury Happy Together Tour set, during which he danced plenty. "It's part of who I am, and I'm grateful to be part of the history of that great song that has proven to be really timeless."

"And now that Gerry's passed on, I'm especially honored to be the one to take that song to No. 1 again the second time around."
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06.22.14 - MARK MONDAYS! LIVE!
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[For the most part LIVE, some shows recorded, He's on the road]
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05.30.14 - THE GRAND PLAN
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