Episode 032–Mark Farner, “I’m Your Captain” and “Footstompin’ Music” with Bruce Hilliard

In this part 2 of 3 interviews with Mark Farner, he talks about the writing of two of Grand Funk Railroad’s biggest hits, I’m Your Captain and Footstompin’ Music. He talks about the inspiration behind both, one from a a prayer and one from being stoked about his new organ, a Hammond B3 that is.

I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home, one of the band’s signature hits, got extensive radio play even though it was 10 minutes long. Some stations played the 5 minute edited version, eliminating most of the orchestral fade out section.

Drummer Don Brewer is quoted as saying: “At the time, rock bands had experimented with orchestras, and we said, ‘Let’s put an orchestra on this thing, we’ll just play endlessly, and we’ll get Tommy Baker, our friend down in Cleveland, to write the score for it, and we’ll put an orchestra on it. It was a new thing for us, kind of new for the day – there hadn’t been too many bands using orchestras. When we recorded the song in Cleveland, we didn’t have the orchestra there, we didn’t know what the final outcome was going to be, we hadn’t even recorded the string arrangements, we just recorded the end of the song on and on and on over and over, knowing they were going to come in and put an orchestra on it later. When we finally heard the song about two weeks later, it just blew us all away. It was a religious experience.”

Farner’s depiction of a Viet Nam War veteran event relates a touching story and gives insight as to what a proud American, a caring person with a cause, he is. He leaves the meaning of the song up to you, the listener.

And as for Footstompin’ Music? That songs speaks for itself.

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Episode 031–Mark Farner Grand Funk Railroad Rock Patriot with Bruce Hilliard

Legendary all-American frontman and guitarist Mark Farner was the engine that pulled the original Grand Funk Railroad to the top of the charts, and today he’s a platinum recording artist 30 times over. At age 69, Farner commands the stage with the same intensity and outpouring of love as he did at 20 during the summer of ’69, and his fans are still flocking to their captain. The rock patriot’s synergy and open heart come through in epic hits that defined a generation— “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home),” “We’re An American Band,” a recut of “The Loco-Motion,” and “Some Kind of Wonderful”— and “rock star” is only one facet of this Michigan-born son’s legacy. Farner is also about as real as they get: He’s a husband, in his fourth decade of marriage to wife Lesia. He’s a family man with five adult sons. And he’s a caregiver.

“I think our fans connected to our songs because we were sincere,” Farner said. “My lyrics were about Mother Earth, stop the war, and all about love. They still have a point of reference with me in their heart.”

After the 1969 Atlantic Pop Festival put Grand Funk Railroad on the fast track, the band topped the Billboard Chart twice with the anthem “We’re an American Band” (1973) and 1974’s “The Loco-Motion.” The Flint, Mich., trio reached the top 10 with “Some Kind of Wonderful” (No. 3) and “Bad Time” (No. 4) before GFR disbanded for the first time in 1976. Although Farner joined up with the band during its 1980s and 1990s reunifications and has collaborated with other artists over the years, he’s forged an enduring solo career focused on bringing a message of love to his fans in all corners.

“Love is unconditional,” he said. “Just like when you hold a baby, the love transfers. I feel that when I’m on stage from the audience.”

The son of a World War II veteran/four-time bronze star recipient and career fireman also knows the importance of brotherhood and commitment. On his mother’s side, he champions his Cherokee heritage and the fact that his mother was the first women welder in the United States to weld on a tank during World War 2. It just happened to be the same type of Sherman tanks his father drove. Farner’s work on and off the stage is focused on honoring service personnel and veterans and offering support to American farmers, individuals with disabilities, and downtrodden populations.

Farner, the rock patriot that he is, works tirelessly to honor service personnel and Veterans everywhere. He wants everyone to remember the huge sacrifices the men and women of our armed services give up to protect our amazing country and our freedoms.

In 2010, Farner’s youngest son Jesse, then 21, was injured in an accident that left him quadriplegic. This life-changing event motivated Farner to intensify his career and keep his message of love, hope and connection burning bright. Facing what many of his generation also face—providing and caring for a loved one—Farner’s lasting faith continues to inspire and guide him.

“I love playing where I can connect with people of all backgrounds,” he said. “My family and I are so grateful when fans share that they are praying for us and praying for Jesse. We have challenges like most people – we get through the day with each other and focus on the power of positive energy.”

Mark Farner’s American Band

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Episode 030–Christa Deana’s Music With a Message with Bruce Hilliard

Christa Deánā (Duh-nay) is a Christian Singer/Songwriter from Philadelphia who sings with conviction and power. Her songs speak to the journey of a woman after God’s own heart. Each song is deeply rooted in a personal, yet extremely vulnerable relationship with God. It’s the beauty and emotion in her voice and the candor in her lyrics that help inspire others to go all the way, every day, with God.

Dedicating herself to music as a child, she won first place in the Young Artist Competition for the city of Allentown, PA. A gifted writer, Christa Deana performed her first original song at 11 and went on to write over 50 more. Her vocal ability also developed young, securing her lead oratorios from classics such as Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Vivaldi’s Gloria, and lead songs in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. In addition to writing and singing, she has toured with several choirs that took her to Romania, Turkey, France, Spain, England, and all over the US. During this journey she found a love for conducting and excelled as a choir director for several choirs. She has worked with The Lesser Light Collective as a soloist, writer, and conductor, directing the choir for their performance at Washington Adventist University.

Christa Deánā inherited perfect pitch, excellent natural timing, a powerful vocal instrument and a creative soul. But she’s been diligent to cultivate her gifts, obtaining her music education degree from the University of Valley Forge. Not content to simply make her own music, she pulls beautiful music out of her students and collaborators. She is currently a music educator and worship leader at various facilities and churches. She is also the co-owner for ChristaCourt Productions.

Currently, she is focusing on spreading the word about her new single, “If God Doesn’t Want It” and releasing an additional new single on her birthday, May 29, 2018 called “Here” and a self entitled album with all new original music Fall 2018. As she continues to tour and spread the message of the power of God, she’s ecstatic of what’s ahead. Join the mailing list and follow her on social media to stay up to date on what’s to come!

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Episode 029–Madelyn Victoria and Her Songs with Bruce Hilliard

Madelyn Victoria’s debut single release, He Only Loves Me on the Dance Floor reached #1 on the national country AM/FM chart, New Music Weekly, making it one of the biggest debut singles of 2016. The self-penned song won an Akademia Award for Best Country Song in April 2016, earning her numerous other award nominations and a spot on the CMT.com Top 50 Most Popular Artists chart. The video for “He Only Loves Me” reached the Yallwire.com Top 5 Most Watched Videos chart, while her youtube cover of George Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning” received over 100,000 views in just 2 days, after being featured on Country Rebel’s website.  Her cover of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues matched that number, after being featured on the same site.  But, for the young Texas native, nothing can compare to walking in the footsteps of her legendary idols. Her latest video release, the original I Can Be Your Senorita has already received over 10,000 views.

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Episode 028–Indifferent Matters with Bruce Hilliard

“I got my first real six-string
Bought it at the five-and-dime
Played it ’til my fingers bled
Was the summer of sixty-nine
Me and some guys from school
Had a band and we tried real hard
Jimmy quit, Jody got married
I should’ve known we’d never get far”…Summer of 69
  
What Bryan Adams wrote of, the memory of  a “let’s start a group!” 1969 garage band, is a tale that rocks on to this day. For those that have been involved with a band start up, or shared in any dream with your friends before life had other ideas, know that it’s something special that you just never forget. And, know that resistance isn’t always a show stopper.
 
Liv Taylor, Matt Taylor and Mike Spano are lead vocalist/guitarist, drummer and lead guitarist respectively. They are all 19 years old, have day gigs and share in the courage to create something beyond the norm, perform it and make it better each day. The “lather, rinse, repeat” formula responsible for the success of the light bulb, the Beatles and preventing stinky dogs applies here. (And, never before have those elements been used in one sentence.)

Hats off to Liv, Matt and Mike for their first interview. Best wishes to their latest song Things I Wish You Said. Cheers to the first 6 months of Indifferent Matters, and to their future. If you don’t take a chance, you won’t have one.

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