Grand Funk Railroad drummer talks about his career ahead of Friday show at River Spirit
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Thursday, February 07, 2013
2/07/13 at 5:07 AM
Grand Funk Railroad singer and drummer Don Brewer can't imagine life doing anything but playing music.
"Oh, geez, no," he said during a recent telephone interview. The band's been around since 1969 - and he even took a stab at retirement in the mid-'90s.
"I'd felt at that time that I'd had a full career, you know? I tried to slow down and do something else."
It didn't last long. "I woke up one morning and said, 'What do I do today?' and that was pretty much the end of that."
He was soon playing music again. "When I get too old to do this, I know my wife and daughter will tell me. Look. Bob Seger still does this. The Eagles. B.B. King. The Stones. How lucky that we still have jobs, right?" he said, then laughed.
These days, Grand Funk may play 50 dates a year instead of 250, but that's a choice he's made, too. This spring, Brewer will also tour as part of Bob Seger's Silver Bullet Band, something he's done off-and-on since the 1980s.
This time out, Grand Funk brings with it co-headlining act War, also famous for its blues-funk riffs, as well as classics like "Tobacco Road," "Low Rider," "Spill the Wine" and "The World Is A Ghetto."
He said all the classics will be there for both bands, including Grand Funk's "Footstompin' Music," "Some Kind of Wonderful," "We're an American Band," "Rock & Roll Soul" and newer songs like "Bottle Rocket."
"We're an American band, we're comin' to your town, we'll help you party it down," Brewer said in a deadpan quote of the lyrics from one of his most famous songs.
"It's true! ... That's what we've always done," the 64-year-old said. "We really focus on what our fans want, and that's good, old-fashioned rock and roll."
With a few new songs, the band is trying to show that it is more than a tribute act to itself.
When Brewer helped form the group as a Michigan teen in 1969, he said, "I had no idea that 2013 would ever happen, let alone that I'd still be playing music."
Yet, here he is, with band co-founder Mel Schacher, no less, and a lineup that's been rock-solid and unchanged for nearly 13 years. These days, it's Brewer on drums and lead vocals and Schacher on bass.
Max Carl joined on lead vocals. He also performed with 38 Special, Rod Stewart and Dusty Springfield after honing his skills playing jazz-rock fusion in Oklahoma City for years. Keyboardist Tim Cashion has also toured with Bob Seger, Robert Palmer and Jon Secada. Guitarist Bruce Kulick has also played with Kiss and Blackjack (Michael Bolton).
"The lineup is just incredible," Brewer said. "Nobody could ask for better guys. I never dreamed I would be 64 and more energetic than ever - and have a band like this with me for more than a decade."
Indeed, the current "newbies" have been with Grand Funk longer than most bands are together.
Grand Funk Railroad with War
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: River Spirit Event Center, 8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tickets: $30, $40 and $50, available at tulsaworld.com/riverspirit and at the River Spirit Casino box office.
Original Print Headline: Lifetime of rock 'n' roll
Jennifer Chancellor 918-581-8346
Don Brewer (center) with Grand Funk Railroad joins War for a concert Friday at the River Spirit Event Center. Courtesy