my grand funk concert stories mark farner and nrg band rocks Colerain township Cincinnati

Mark Farner nrg cover 2004

Colrain twp Cincinnatti 2004

Mark Farner nrg band at Colrain twp Cincinnati Ohio 2004

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A night of pure rockin NRG

In the summer of 2004 I had found out that Mark Farner and his NRG band would be doing a show on the 4th of July near Cincinnati at the Colerain townships annual festival and I ended up going to this concert alone.Well...sort of!I had been staying down near Dayton and Cincinnati with a girlfriend of mine at the time and she knew how much I was wanting to attend this.Unfortunately she had to work that day.It was to be held outdoors just a few miles from outside of that town and could only be gotten to by shuttle buses that would transport people from a designated bus stop in Colerain and then transport them out to the festival,unless of course if one had a very special reserved parking pass to park on the premises.It would be an extremely hot and sunny day.I hadnt seen Mark in concert since 1998 and hadnt spoken with him since 1991.I wasnt really expecting to.For all I knew he may not even remember who I was anyways.He had played a show in Tampa Florida earlier this year.I was in Florida close to that timeframe and I really wanted to see that show then,however cicumstances had sent me back to Ohio before the concert had occurred and of course both Grand Funk shows I had attended in 2001 and 2003 turned out to be Grand Funk Railroad without Mark Farner so this concert for me was certainly long overdo. Things were discussed as we came up with a plan.Prior to her work she would drive me to Colerain and drop me off at the shuttle bus stop and the shuttle bus would then transfer me to the festival.Shed then have to take off for work and wouldnt get to attend.I had a cellphone and throughout the day she would stay in touch with me occassionally and later come to pick me up after the concert and festival were over.It was still a long two hour round trip drive but we had the plan.She had to take me there early in the day so as she could still be at work on time so I would be arriving about four hours before showtime.There were only about a dozen people in the whole place when I got there.When I had arrived I had walked around back behind a big building where there was a stage set up near it.Actually Mark was doing a soundcheck when I had arrived.There was alot of open space out in front and around the stage and back from this opened up area were two large tents for reserved people only,and various concession stands as well even further back.News of this concert had sent me searching into the past.The evening before the show I had expressed to my girlfriend how I wanted to show Mark my appreciation for his caring from so long ago.I had so much to share.I had became an accomplished musician in my own right and wanted to show him just how much better I had become.Obviously this had still meant alot to me.I asked myself,even if by chance I would see him should I even mention all of this stuff from the past at all?After all,he may not even remember me nor even care for that matter.I happened to have had a large box of cassettes that were with me during my stay at her house,so I sifted through them and found some very cheaply made recordings.I had made these years ago.I took them and recorded them onto a new blank cassette that evening prior to the show.I then added an inner sleeve to the case which depicted an animated picture of me that had been used for my own self promotion a few years earlier just to try to make it look kinda good.The recordings quality was pretty shoddy though.The following day I took this cassette with me to the festival just in case the opportunity would arise that I would actually be able to give the tape to him.I didnt want nor expect anything from him.I simply wanted him to have it .Afterall,he and Grand Funk were my early inspirations to my learning to play in the first place,as I am sure they are with many others as well.It wouldve been my honor for him to receive this.This would be my 13th Grand Funk/Mark Farner show and I was looking very forward to it even though I would be going alone.Plus not knowing what to expect and being there so early as well.What was going to happen to me at this concert would not have been expected by me to happen at all,and when it did I was in total amazement.I had never seen this new band of Marks in concert yet.At least I knew one thing for certain and that was that I was actually going to be there this time and was going to be on time.Even alone I just knew that I was gonna really enjoy this.I was thankful that Joy was so understanding about taking time out and going out of her way in order to take me to this show.July 4th in the early afternoon we headed for Colerain.It was a good drive there and she had to promptly leave after dropping me off so as not to be late for her work shift.We finally arrived and found the shuttle bus stop.I wore one of those belt satchel thingys that would easily hold my camera,cellphone,money and any other belongings I may need for the day.I said goodbye to her then jumped onto the shuttlebus.I found it odd that only one other person was aboard this bus besides myself and the bus driver.It was only about 2:30 in the afternoon.As mentioned earlier,there was hardly anyone even there but perhaps a dozen or so people.I watched them do soundcheck for awhile.Afterwards I thought,now what am I gonna do to pass the time away?And it was very hot out and in the 90s.The show wasnt to start until early evening and Mark wouldnt be playing until later after that.The first band was Double Trouble.I guessed them to be a local band that played mainly a country kind of music and they were good,but it just didnt really fit the right format of opening up for Mark Farners Nrg nor Grand Funk.If ya know what I mean?Country music and Grand Funk do not go hand in hand.Even if the country is good it just doesnt mix well.Well it appeared that I was going to have alot of extra time on my hands and it would be a very good while before very many people would be arriving.I seen that Mark was now onstage doing his soundchecks.I wasnt about to bother him at this time because it just wouldnt have been the right thing to do.It was so hot and sticky out with very little shade.The building was open and I guess I couldve went in there but decided to just hang around outside in the heat for awhile.I was just kind of checking things out.While hanging out in front of the stage area I seen a tall and partially bearded man wearing sunglasses.At first I assumed that he was security. We then began talking with one another about various things including about that nights concert and about Mark for quite awhile.He seemed to be very Grand Funk knowledgeable.I thought,yea he must be security or a manager or promoter or something.He was a very kind man.He later excused himself and walked back to the side area of the stage for a few moments and then returned to where I had been standing.Waiving an arm he says,follow me Chris!I didnt question anything and followed him away from the front of the stage and towards the back of the opened up concert area where these two rather large open faced tents were situated that contained many tables and chairs within them.Come on in and have a seat Chris,he says.I entered the tent and sat down at a table with him but I felt uneasy because this was a restricted area reserved for Marks guests only.He then reassurred me that everything was alright.We sat down and had some very pleasant conversations and I began telling him about all of my past concert experiences I had attended as well as about my past meetings with Mark from so long ago.Hardly anybody had arrived here yet.I wont give out my friends name in this concert story but I will call him Mr.C.Earlier upon meeting him I had given him my cassette and he told me he would give it to Mark for me.It turned out he was not security.It turned out to be that he and his family were very good friends of Marks.Man I was floored.Soon the whole place was suddenly filling up with lots and lots of people but we just kept on conversing and I was awestruck by all of it.We talked about all sorts of things.He told me about his visits to Marks home as well as about all the fun things they would all do together.I was absolutely enthralled with all of this.Mr.Cs family soon entered the tent as well as a whole host of other people and friends.He introduced me to his wife and the kids.Although I was a little excited about all of this,I still managed to keep my calm composure.There was also a young couple who were their friends and who seemed to recognize who I was and I was sure that I had seen them with Marks group long ago from a couple concerts in the past.These were really nice people.A couple of them were kidding around with me about my wanting Marks autograph and seemed to be getting a big kick out of me being fanlike.It was all in good fun.During all of this I had a profoundly grand realization while sitting with all of these fine people that I had always been more of a fan but never really a friend,at least not in the sense of what a friend is.These people didnt view Mark in the same way that I had always viewed him.Dont get me wrong for fans are the foundation that has kept Mark Farner and Grand Funks music alive for all of these years and I am proud to be one and I dont mind getting autographs just like anybody else.But I could see that these people I was with were ordinary folks.Just ordinary folks with ordinary lives whom all viewed Mark as just another ordinary guy with alot of talent.It was now getting ever closer to showtime as the first band had just finished their set and the now huge crowd was awaiting mark farners nrg band.Joy had called me from work a couple of times earlier in the day.She was worried about me being in the hot sun all day.I told her I was in a tent with Marks friends waiting for the concert later on but she didnt believe me at first.Soon she realized I wasnt kidding her.Oh my God you really are?You suck Chris,you suck she blurted out and she was in a good mood about this but I could hear the envy in her voice.During this pre concert time,I had made a comment to them that I was hoping that Mark would be signing autographs after the show.One of them says,why dontcha just stick around with us Chris?Well probably all be goin out to eat with Mark later on if ya wanna go with us.Now I became the disbeliever.My new friend then looks at me and says,yes Chris we are going out to eat with Mark after the show.Are you going?I told him yes and then excused myself.I then walked over to a concession stand some distance away and called her back on the phone.She was still at work.The original plan had been that she would come and pick me up at the shuttle bus stop after the show was over and she would have about a one hour drive to get here.We obviously had to change our plan.When I called her to explain that wed have to change our plans because I was going out to eat with Mark and my new friends,I think she just about fell out of her chair.I mean this quite literally.I then told her that this was possible but that I wasnt gonna count on anything until I really knew for sure.I would have to call her back later.She would need to know exactly where and when to pick me up.I then walked back to the tent.The concert was just about to start so I made my way down very close to the stage as did many others as Mark and the band kicked things off with-are you ready.This was by far my longest concert Id attended.The regular concert songs like the locomotion,footstompin music,some kind of wonderful,heartbreaker and bad time were included in the mix as they ussually are with each concert.It was pure rockin nrg.I could certainly tell why they called themselves nrg as they played a whole slew of over 18 Grand Funk songs and some of them I had never heard live before.The concert was phenomenal.Mark would include his own personal commentary as to the state of our country before going into-people lets stop the war.A very suitable song for that time.There wasnt all the glamerous trappings,stage props,and big star members like the new grand funk railroad had,but there didnt have to be.NRG didnt need all of that.Their performance in itself stood on its own as these guys delivered a very high energy show that never seemed to slow down.It was honestly one of the best ones I had yet attended.Im your captain/closer to home,nothing is the same and inside looking out were my three favorites for this particular concert that featured a whole lot of songs and encores.I felt genuinely worn out by the shows end both mentally and physically.After the concert was over I walked back to the tents.They had all returned there as well and Mark would be up by the stage soon to meet all the people whom were already lined up.I went up to his concession and bought the NRG live cd.I then returned back to the tent area to watch the big fireworks display with Mr.C and the rest of them and he and his wife took a picture with me.I then wondered if I should get in Marks meet and greet line or not.I mentioned something about getting an autograph from Mark and one of the guys asked,-Why do that when youre gonna be seeing him in a little while anyways?I guess he was right.I called Joy and she was now home from work.She needed to know what she was to do and I told her that I would call her back from wherever it was that we were all going to.We all then took off walking.Figuring that it would only take a second,I had seen Marks drummer Hubert H-bomb Crawford talking with someone up by the stage so I went up and got an autograph from him.But when I had turned back around Mr.C and all of them were now gone.Swarms of people were now either heading for the front gate or lined up to board the buses that had arrived.Finding them among these thousands of people would be like finding a needle in a haystack as I franticly searched all around,including in the restricted parking areas of the place.I had lost them.Sadly I muttered to myself,-They didnt really know me.They were all probably just joking with me about all of this.Im nobody to them so who am I really kidding anyways?I then called Joy again.I gloomily lamented,- I lost them and I really dont want to talk about it,so you can come and get me at the bus stop now,I said quietly and sadly.She said alright and we hung up.It was dark out as hundreds upon hundreds of cars were now pulling out of the front gate onto the road and the bus I was to board was directly across the street.Police with flashlights were gradually directing all of the traffic out.I stood there with others awaiting my chance to cross the road in order to board my shuttle bus when out of nowhere I heard voices yelling,-hey Chris!Hey Chris!I was quickly looking all around.Just ahead of me in the 10 mile per hour traffic was a big bright red hummer pickup truck with a whole bunch of people in the back of it and they were all yelling at me.I then quickly ran up to the truck.It was practically stopped but still moving as the cops were waving at it to get moving with the rest of the traffic.Then the drivers window came down and it was Mr.C.He yelled at me,where in the hell have you been?I responded with,well..um..uh..duh..I was at the stage and..He then says,well never mind all that.Well are ya goin with us or arent you?Where you goin?I asked.Were goin to meet Mark at the best western and then were all goin out to eat.Now are you goin or not?I responded with an enthusiastic,hell ya Im goin!Well get in then,he replied.As the big hummer truck was very slowly moving,I grabbed the tailgate of it and climbed into the back along with all the rest of these people and down the interstate we flew.I called Joy again as the wind was hitting all of us.I caught her just in time in that she hadnt left the house yet to come get me.She asked me if I was at the bus stop yet and I replied,well not exactly.I then explained to her that I was in the back end of a huge red hummer truck with about a half dozen other people and was now flying down the interstate.This call definitely did flip her out.I told her that I would be calling her right back just as soon as I knew more about what was going on.Everybody was so cool.Mr.C then drove into town and dropped everyone off at two different locations where I said goodbye to them and then rode up front with him to the motel and his wife was right behind us in a different car.Mr.C and his whole family were so awesome and made my concert experience complete.When we finally pulled into the motel parking lot I could see Marks bus parked there.He pointed to the top of the tall building.There on the top floor at that room right over there,he says.He then called Mark from his cellphone.They talked for a little while and Mark didnt really feel like leaving and so was calling it a night.I then asked if I could speak with him.Mr.C says,-hey Mark I have someone here who wants to speak with you a moment.He then handed me the cellphone.I said,um ..uh..duh..hi Mark.I began telling him how much I had enjoyed the show and quickly told him as to how I had improved musically and otherwise and for once I actually had good stuff to tell him about.He had actually still remembered me.We talked for a little while longer and he was very kind and thanked me for my comments about the show.It was gettin late now.After talking with Mark awhile,I then had to call Joy to come and get me.Mr C and his wife and myself then walked over to a Hooters across the street but it turned out that they were closed.We then talked for a little while in the parking lot.I agreed that I would occassionally stay in touch with them and perhaps wed come and visit them sometime since they werent really too far away from us.They were all so nice to me and it was such a blessing.They soon afterwards had to leave for home after we said goodbye,and I waited at an all night gas station across the street for my ride to come get me.She soon arrived to pick me up.Her smiling ear to ear she says,I cannot wait to hear all about your day today.Both of us were worn out and tired from our long day as I proceeded to fill her in on the whole story as she drove us down the late night highway,taking us both closer to home.

 

Closer to home-Grand Funk Railroad/Lp closer to home 1970

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