Continuing along the lines of my (perhaps) final Summer concert photo series i present to you "The American Band", Grand Funk Railroad. Though never really making the top ten lists of the major critics, these guys were always a popular item where it counts most, with the fans. They were certainly one of the hardest hitting 3-piece rock bands of all time (they added keyboards later on). If you don't believe me just give Grand Funk Railroad - The Live Album a spin and see for yourself. This double album was the one and only Grand Funk album i owned as a teenager, but maybe it's the only one you really need to know what i mean.
Two of the three original members are still with the band. That it happens to be the rhythm section that survives is not a bad thing. Mark Schacher remains ready and steady on bass though perhaps a bit reserved in stage presence, avoiding the spot light whenever he can. But it's drummer Don Brewer whose infectious energy both behind and in front of the trap set drives the show. While i must admit that original guitarist Mark Farner brought a certain raw and appealing animal magnetism to the band, the current line-up with Max Carl on guitar and vocals (from 38 Special) and long-time KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick on lead guitar still rocks the house pretty hard. Tim Cashion fills out their sound on keyboards.
I must say that i feel a little bit spoiled when i work as the house photographer at the Lawrenceburg Event Center. The majority of concerts i shoot at other venues always come with an arm-length list of rules and restrictions. First three songs only (if we're lucky), from the pit (if we're lucky), though often with restricted movement within that pit (if we haven't been relegated to the soundboard) and even if we are not contractually tied to a single position in that pit there are often so many other photographers (and maybe a video crew as well) jammed in there that movement becomes nearly impossible. Don't even get me started on some of the ridiculous shooting agreements we are forced to sign.
Most shows at Lawrenceburg i have pretty free reign. It's about as close as i've come to that coveted position of Tour Photographer. I don't usually get backstage access, but pretty much everything else, and that gives me the rare opportunity to tell a much fuller story of what the concert was really all about. Being able to shoot from multiple angles and distance to the stage often over much longer periods of the show then are generally permitted elsewhere provides a great advantage for capturing better live performance images. I am also most often the only shooter on the floor.
I guess the only down side to shooting here is that it is a casino venue and therefore does not attract the top tier touring bands that are currently in the charts. These are usually what we call "dinosaurs" or "dad bands" who fell out of the limelight of public attention some time ago. But i have other chances and venues to photograph what's popular with the kids. I've shot such notables as Styx, Three Dog Night, Meat Loaf, Peter Frampton, America, Huey Lewis and Rick Springfield on this stage. In their day these bands could fill stadiums (Grand Funk Railroad once sold out Shea Stadium in a record-breaking 72 hours). Now they are happy to play to smaller crowds of ardent fans who remember them when, which isn't to say they have necessarily lost much to the passage of time. All the the bands i have seen here brought an integrity and vitality to the stage that defy their years. But most of all, for me they are the soundtrack of my ill-spent youth and i kind of enjoy having the opportunity to catch them now even if i may have missed them in their prime.
(please click on images for an enlarged gallery view)
All Photos ©David Sorcher 2017
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