Things to Do: Watch Chilean’s Mark Farner’s American Band With Love

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Mark Farner on stage in Chile, 2019.

Screenshot “From Chile with love”

As a former Grand Funk Railroad singer / guitarist, Mark Farner’s vocals and playing have been rock classics on stereo systems and radio for over 50 years.

Songs he has written or covered include “Some Kind of Wonderful”, “Bad Time”, “The Loco-Motion”, “Rock and Roll Soul”, “Footstompin ‘Music” and the epic “I’m Your Captain / Closer to Home. ”These are all great examples of good old, no-frills Midwestern meat and potato rock and roll. The style isn’t a critics’ favorite, but it certainly moved a lot of vinyl and put a lot of rears in seats from the late ’60s through the’ 70s. In an oft-cited fact, Grand Funk Railroad has sold the Shea Stadium faster than the Beatles.

All of these songs – along with other hits and deep cuts – are featured on Mark Farner’s American band’s new concert DVD, From Chile with love. Comprising 16 songs with five bonus solo audio tracks and two videos (including the mini-film “Never and Always”), it was shot during a show in 2019 at the Teatro Caupolicán in Santiago, Chile, during a series of shows in South America.

“We decided to film there because when we had been there before it was such a loud, happy, rocking crowd. They are part of our community, just a little south of the equator! Farner laughs at his home in Michigan. “All rockers have this free heart, no matter what country you live in. ”

South American audiences are particularly known for their love of hard rock and heavy metal. But surprisingly, it’s GFR’s slower, more introspective tune “Heartbreaker” that receives one of the audience’s most passionate responses, with a bellowing vocals and plenty of hoisted phone cameras filming.

Farner recalls that a South American friend once told him that the song was particularly popular there and that he himself had learned English from the song. “They love that chorus of chorus and that vocal line. And when it first happened I was full of goose bumps. What a race! And they sang the right words!

And while many of the performers say some variation in how they “feed off the energy of the crowd,” Farner is a true practitioner of that, something very clear in the film. “Some [performers] are more concerned with how they emerge, this is a sensitive place. I just rest in the groove and feel it, ”says Farner. “It’s a guttural and instinctive emotion.”

Farner has long been an advocate for veterans causes and charities, and he and his wife Lesia for over 40 years have donated $ 3 on every copy sold of From Chile with love to the Veterans Support Foundation, an organization that provides transitional housing services to veterans. And he lost count of the number of Vietnamese-era veterans who told him how much the song “Closer to Home” (kind of like “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” from Animals) meant to them in the past. fields of war.

He says the cause is personal, noting that his father was a WWII veteran as a tank driver in the US Army’s Seventh Armored Division. And that her mother was the first woman in the United States to weld on Sherman tanks at Fisher Body in the family’s hometown of Flint, Michigan.

“My dad came home with four bronze stars in four major battles, but a lot of the tank drivers didn’t even get to see a second battle,” he says. “I love my brothers and sisters in the armed forces and have a passion to help them when I can. [VSA] does an amazing job. If you can’t believe in your armed forces, you are in the wrong country! I wish Lesia and I could donate all of the DVD product!

One of the original rock power trios, Grand Funk Railroad (later abbreviated as Grand Funk) included Farner, Don Brewer (drums / vocals) and Mel Schacher (bass). They then added keyboardist Craig Frost on a hit record series from 1969 to 1976. In pop culture, they are one of the favorite bands of a certain Homer Simpson, who remembers “wild lyrics and shirtless. by Mark Farner ”.

The group broke up and reformed into several formations. The original trio reunited in 1996 for a series of benefit shows and tours. But they separate again two years later. Two years later, Brewer and Schacher reformed GFR with Max Carl (vocals), Bruce Kulick (guitar) and Tim Cashion (keyboards), and have toured ever since.

The details behind the status are not accepted by the factions involved. Farner claims he was misled into signing a corporate deal, which led to his being rejected by his former band mates. He said they also hated very public Christianity and Farner’s conservative policies. Brewer and Schacher (at least in the bio on GFR’s official website) say Farner left to return to his solo career and never returned.

In fact, the blood is still so bad that Farner had to recall the DVD’s first pressing and reprint the covers of From Chile with love to eliminate two songs that were the subject of legal threats: “Shinin ‘On” and what is arguably the band’s best-known hit, Brewer’s written / sung ode to road hedonism, “We’re An American Band ”.

Click to enlarge Mark Farner onstage in the U.S. 2019. - PHOTO BY BRAD SHAW / COURTESY OF MOXIE PR

Mark Farner on stage in the United States in 2019.

Photo by Brad Shaw / Courtesy of MOXIE PR

But he did not give up hope for a reunion, even after being sued by GFR LTD. – of which he is a 1/3 shareholder – for having toured as “Mark Farner’s American Band” (GFR LTD. Owns the mark on “The American Band”).

In 2019, a federal court ruled in Farner’s favor for the name, although bookers are still cautioned not to mention “Grand Funk Railroad” in materials promoting Farner’s solo group.

“The Bible says ‘Stay out of the courts’ and I can tell you why brother, they’re twisted like a piece of guts! I don’t like going to court. But for Mark Farner’s American band, I did it, ”says Farner.

“But that’s how it happened, and that’s a shame. I would love to give Grand Funk fans the original band. I’ve been trying to do this for over 20 years! Every time we have a corporate meeting, it gets shot. I am a shareholder, but not an executive. So I don’t have a say in what really happens in the company. Even though I wrote 92 percent of the songs!

But through all the challenges life gives him: musical, legal or personal (his son Jesse and Lesia died in 2018 of complications from a horrific crippling accident years before), 72-year-old Mark Farner finds solace in higher power. And that’s even more true after he said he had an out-of-body experience installing a pacemaker, before reverting to what he calls his “deadly bone suit” tied to. Earth.

“I always pray before I go on stage and I’m serious about it. I sing my songs with my heart. And I still have my faith because Jesus is my Redeemer and his love is unconditional, even if it is not much practiced on this Earth ”, he sums up. “Unless you have a real good dog!”

For more information on Mark Farner and From Chile with Love, visit

About Joan J. Hernandez

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