January 13, 2007

Demo Afterglow (Repost)

This post was orginally added to the Dead Dog Express page on Sept 2, 2004.

The agony of my vocal nightmare notwithstanding, we were really jazzed about our first demo recording. For the next week after concluding our session, I listened to our mix tape everyday. I managed to find way to work into every conversation, a mention of THE tape and I just happened to have a copy that we could listen to right now.

It was like parental love, unconditional, forgiving, and totally blinded to faults that were obvious to just about everyone on the planet. This was my view of our project, at least, at first. Later it took on a completely different complexion. It evolved into my nemesis within the next few months and even brought about a temporary breakdown of the group for a period.

Several months prior, I had the incredibly good fortune to learn the addresses of two members of the band, Grand Funk Railroad. These guys were my idols. Mark Farner was the reason I took up playing guitar. Grand Funk was based out of Flint, Michigan and so they were considered local boys and this was also a source of great musical pride for many natives. My parents are in the real estate business and had begun working with an exclusive, custom home builder in the Flint area. As it turned out, he built the home of the drummer, Don Brewer, in an upscale neighborhood on Lake Shannon near Parshallville, MI, about 45 minutes northwest of the metro Detroit area.
Using platte maps that my parents had, I was able to locate not only Don Brewer's house, but I found property listings for Mark Farner!

With this information, we put our balls on and decided to drive to Parshallville and locate the houses belonging to our heroes. Mark Farner's house, a farm actually, was pretty easy to find. I mean, we had a map and all, just like Hollywood. His mailbox had no name except for a sign that said "Singing Spruce Farm" and we knew this was the place. There was a clapboard fence along the road and an electronic gate with security access. We pulled into the driveway and pushed the announce button. Finally, after several minutes, a voice asked, "what can I do fer ya". I said, "Is Mark home?" (Like, can Markie come out and play?) We were told he was not at home so we had not choice but to move on down the road.

We next navigated our way through the country roads of Parshallville looking for Lake Shannon. After some basic directions from a local cyclist, we found ourselves driving through a neighborhood of large, distinctive houses. I had the house address with me and we once again, summoned our courage to pull into the driveway. There was a jeep in front of the attached garage and we took that as a "good" sign. NO fence. NO wandering attack dogs. NO surveillance cameras to be seen. All "good" signs. After arguing the merits of getting out of the car for about 15 minutes, we disembarked and walked up to the front door. The house was of a modern architectural design using natural woods and a lot of angled glass windows. We rang the doorbell. Through the open expanse of the entryway, we could see the house was a split level and then we saw Don Brewer walking up a set of stairs to answer his door. Holy crap!

He opened the door and we introduced ourselves as big fans. We told him that we were in a band and that he and Grand Funk were a huge inspiration to us. We made groupie fan talk for another minute and then I asked the question. "If we brought you a demo tape of our group, would you give us an honest evaluation of what we should do next?", I asked.

(Don Brewer drum roll inserted here)

"Sure, I'd be happy to, I enjoy helping new bands get things together", was his reply.

If only he knew what he had gotten himself into with that statement and that we had every intention of taking him up on his foolish generosity.

Photo of Don Brewer - K. Stevens

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