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Mark Farner at Andiamo, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Friday, February 16, 2018

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It’s been 45 years since Grand Funk Railroad released its iconic “We’re An American Band,” but former frontman Mark Farner has enjoyed a noteworthy career both before and since.

The Flint native, who now resides near Petoskey, was part of the Pack and the Bossmen before Grand Funk formed, and in-between stints with the band his solo career has included six studio albums, a run in Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band and a memoir, “From Grand Funk to Grace.”

Farner, 69, is still at it these days, fronting a newly christened American Band and keeping alive a legacy of enduring favorites such as “I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home,” “Bad Time” and many more...

• Farner explains by phone that the American Band moniker was created to avoid confusion and legalities with his former bandmates over the way his performances are billed. “The contracts say it’s supposed to be ‘Mark Farner, formerly of Grand Funk Railroad,’ but on the Internet or a radio station they’ll say ‘of Grand Funk’ and Don (Brewer) and Mel (Schacher) will come after me for violations,” Farner explains. “So now I’m going out as Mark Farner’s American Band. It’s 100 percent legal, so it’s better this way. And the fans know who I am and what I play.”

• The band name, of course, plays off “We’re An American Band,” which was credited to Brewer even though Farner says he brought something very important to the chart-topping single. “I did write the drum lick on the intro of ‘...American Band,’” Farner notes. “Brewer didn’t even own a cowbell, dude. I’m serious. I said, ‘We’ve got to have a cowbell on that song.’ I gave him the (songwriting) credit; He said, ‘I’ve never had a single songwriting credit, can I take it on this?’ I said, ‘Yeah, go ahead, even though that’s my drum lick and my cowbell on there.’ I gave that (credit) to him as a friend. Then he wanted half my royalties for ‘Creepin’,’ which was on the B-side, because ‘...American Band’ was such a big hit.”

• Grand Funk’s 50th anniversary falls in 2019, but the current relationship between the three members makes a reunion celebration unlikely. “A few years ago someone asked Brewer if the band would get back together and he said, ‘Never say never,’” Farner says. “And I asked him in the last corporate meeting and he just sidestepped it. So, whatever. He’s just had that jealousy towards me all the time I can remember. He wanted to be the one up front, not sitting behind the drums, God bless him.”

• Farner’s next release will be a live DVD from a concert last year in Santiago, Chile. “It’s full of the excitement that the people in South America embrace me with,” Farner says. “Before the band could even start playing the audience is so up and ready and just hollering, like we were their favorite soccer team or something. It’s overwhelming. It’s got that feel and it really captures the relationship between the audience and the band.” No release date has been determined yet.

• As for new music, Farner says that he’s writing “every chance I get. Our life is taking up with a lot of things that have to be done, which takes away from time that I would normally be working in the studio and doing things. But I’m still inspired to write. I’m playing a lot of acoustic guitar and that’s bringing some stuff out that will become new songs in due time.”

If You Go:

• Mark Farner’s American Band

• 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16.

• Andiamo Celebrity Showroom, 7096 E. Fourteen Mile Road, Warren.

• Tickets are $25-$69.

• Call 586-268-3200 or visit andiamoitalia.com.

Web Site: www.andiamoitalia.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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