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Grand Funk Railroad In Concert
Show Date: August 20, 2010
Venue: Choctaw Casino
Durant, Oklahoma

The bedroom I had as a teenager growing up in the Phoenix area was the perfect stage for my many air guitar performances. In one corner of my room was a frameless mirror that measured about three foot wide and four foot tall. At one point or another, it was strategically hanging above my stereo.

Within that mirror were some of the most magical and legendary venues an artist could play: Madison Square Garden. L.A. Forum. Woodstock. You name ‘em and I played ‘em.

One of my performances for the history books was jamming to Grand Funk Railroad tunes. I was rockin’ out to We’re An American Band, Shinin’ On and Rock and Roll Soul, leaving the adoring masses screaming for more.

Well, I left the grueling trials and tribulations of that touring life well over thirty years ago, having hung up my vast air guitar collection in order to pursue careers and married life. However, the music lived, and lives, on in me.

Still finding myself still living in the real world, I was thrilled to recently be given tickets to see the legendary Grand Funk Railroad by their guitarist (and Boomerocity friend), Bruce Kulick (see our interviews with Bruce here and here). I was in for a real treat.

The band opened with Bottle Rocket. Though original vocalist, Mark Farner, no longer fronts the band, former .38 Special vocalist, Max Carl, was phenomenal in delivering the GFR standards to the capacity crowd. His voice strong and his presence commanding, Carl pleased the crowd one hundred percent.

Original band members, Don Brewer, on drums and the uber-cool, Mel Schacher on bass, gave the sense of steady familiarity to the band’s legendary song catalog that was performed for the Durant crowd. Brewer still pounds the skins like he did – scratch that – better than he did when he was in his twenties. If you don’t believe me, catch a GFR show and tell me that you don’t think so after his drum solo. Schacher complimented Brewer’s rhythm with his rock solid bass work. His lead-like style of playing bass is his signature and was shown at its best during the entire show.

The band opened with Bottle Rock and segued right into Rock & Roll Soul. The band brought the crowd immediately to their feet and kept them there with all of the bands great hits like Footstompin’ Music, Shinin’ On, Some Kind of Wonderful, and, of course, We’re An American Band. The crowd joined the band by singing along with I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home.

Max Carl wowed the crowd by singing one of the hits that he penned, sang and recorded for .38 Special, Second Chance. Judging by the ovation the capacity crowd gave at the end of the song, they were clearly pleased with that addition to the set list.

Two additional standing “O’s” was given to Bruce Kulick. The first being for his rendition of Star Spangled Banner. While the tune always gets a crowd on its feet anywhere in the heartland regardless who performs it, Bruce had the crowd eating of incredibly talented hands. The second ovation was during Kulick’s awesome solo during Inside Looking Out. He performed his solo while mingling with the crowds to their utter delight.

This was the first show that I’ve caught at any of the show venues at the Choctaw Casino in Durant. The Center Stage room, where GFR performed, was intimate but handled the band, the crowd and the sound to perfection. The Casino security and other staff were friendly and courteous while professionally carrying out their duties. I will definitely catch future shows there as it’s definitely worth the one hour drive from my home.

Grand Funk Railroad tours year round. You can see if they’re coming to a town near you by visiting their website, Trust me: Their show is well worth the price of admission so, bring a friend!