Friday, May 20, 2011

The Rainmakers, May 14 & 15 at Knuckleheads in Kansas City, Missouri

Wednesdays I usually go see Bob Walkenhorst, Jeff Porter, and Norm Dahlor at the recordBar. The Wednesday before the Rainmakers shows I skipped for another band. I actually liked the timing of that. Not seeing Bob and Jeff on the Wednesday before would add to the anticipation.

Good music (that's enough detail for here). And also, though it wasn't at all a hanging out with friends thing, I got a nice meeting a band member experience. I was there to see Adam Ezra Group. Adam Ezra is a great guy. It was nice to talk to him, and more properly meet him. (I'd met him, and seen them live, when they opened up for Enter the Haggis in St. Louis last fall.)

Another musician I was talking to once, talking from the perspective of a being a fan in reference to a big star musician he'd travelled to see, said that it's about the music, and the performer doesn't have to be friendly to fans (something like that). And it was extremely ironic hearing that from someone that I know because he's a performer, and who's a great guy, and who is very friendly and sociable when he's playing. He's right, but, at the same time, it definitely adds something to the experience to be able to have nice friendly conversations with the musicians one enjoys listening to. And that's part of this tale, those nice experiences.

Stayed home Thursday.

Friday, the Nace Brothers at Isle of Capri Casino (at the bar that's outside the gaming area). It was like a Rainmakers show pre-party. So many people there were also going to see the Rainmakers the next day (or Sunday only in a few cases). Several people greeted me with, "So, are you ready for the show tomorrow?". I even talked about the Rainmakers show with two of the band members -- and I didn't bring that topic up. (Alas, they weren't able to go to either show because of their own gigs.) It was also someone's birthday, which added to the festive atmosphere. I've a friend in a band who said Friday crowds usually want to sit around and unwind, and Saturday crowds want to party. Nevermind that it was Friday, this was a Saturday crowd. It was one of the best Nace Brothers shows I've been too. And I danced all but two songs. That's with over 3 hours of music! (4 hour bar gig, with breaks.)

Which brings me to something that was very cool about the Rainmakers shows. It wasn't just a concert (or two). It was an event. It was very much a social thing. People anticipating it together, enjoying it together, and enjoying each others company before, during, and after the shows. That's why I think Knuckleheads was a great place for it. Knuckleheads has the perfect atmosphere and set up for the pre and post-show hanging out. Which was such a part of the experience.

I was definitely wanting to get Rich Ruth's autograph. I'd had Bob Walkenhorst and Steve Phillips sign Balls, and had them and Pat Tomek sign the first Rainmakers CD. And I've really wanted Flirting with the Universe signed by everyone (the original members), and now that I could get Rich to sign it, I wanted to get it signed. Rich first.

Part of the reason I wanted to get there plenty early (I certainly didn't need to get there early to get a good seat, since I wasn't going to be sitting during the show) was so, if possible, I could get Rich's autograph before the show rather than in the autograph mob afterwards. (That and, of course, to visit with friends at the show, of which there were many.) Thankfully, he did come out into the crowd before the show (I wonder how many folks recognized him, and how many were oblivious). He was very approachable, and friendly, and nice. Glad I got to meet him and talk to him.

So many people I knew were there, Saturday or Sunday or both. It was very much a social event. Even during the show, because I was standing there up front with some of my friends, enjoying the music together.

As far as the band, the music, the show... it was a different experience for me than for most. For so many people, the Rainmakers first album, or the Steve Bob and Rich days before that, and the performances from back then, that's Bob as they first came to know and love him. Me, that's Bob as I first to know of him, and like one song, and otherwise be quite uninterested.

Me, my Bob fandom started with Skin. (Bought because I liked Steve from the Elders, and because it was the Rainmakers CD I could get quickest.) And from The Beginner is where I really fully became a Bob fan. That album, and those sit down shows at Molloy Brothers, before I had any of the other Rainmakers albums. So Rainmakers-Bob is a new experience for me. The Rainmakers as an experience rather than just music is something new for me. No revisiting long ago. Enjoying something new and fresh.

Regarding that word show. We've been referring to the Wednesday nights as Bob shows, but "show" isn't the right word. It's using a term quite loosely.

The Rainmakers gigs... those were shows. But not just shows. A show, a party; music, fun, and friends. Musically wonderful and socially wonderful.

And it's so very cool that the band members -- all four of them -- are among those I saw this weekend that I can call friends.

It was an incredible experience on many levels.

(Comments on the Saturday show)

Wow! Awesome awesome Rainmakers show! Rich!

I got into the Rainmakers in 2003. I was already a fan of (former Rainmakers guitar player) Steve Phillips and had seen him live (with the Elders) -- he's why I got into the Rainmakers -- and I quickly got to see Bob Walkenhorst and Pat Tomek play live. But Rich Ruth I had no opportunity to see live, and it seemed a Rainmakers reunion would be the only way I'd get that opportunity. I totally didn't conceive of a reunion without Steve, and totally didn't want one with him, nor did I see that as at all likely. So, to get to see Rich Ruth play with the Rainmakers, when I thought I'd never get the opportunity, that is very cool.

And, of course, even for those who have seen Rich play, it's been a while. (And for those of you in Norway, recall that for those here, it's been a few years longer.)

Great line from Rich: "I'm the only one who moved to Nashville to get away from the music business."

I loved what Bob said when introducing Rich. He said the Rainmakers don't have a heart or a soul, they have an attitude, and his name is Rich Ruth. That so captures my thoughts on why Rich is important to the Rainmakers, and puts it into to words so much better than I could. And even my paraphrase of Bob there probably falls short of what Bob said.

Speaking of Bob, I like this Rainmakers-Bob guy. :) A different side of Bob the performer than I'm used to. :) But a nice side.

I was front and center, just one person in front of me (who wasn't blocking my view). Not on purpose. Well, I was up front on purpose. But, where I stand up front at shows is usually wherever my friends are.

That's the first time ever at any show at Knuckleheads I've been at where there's been people standing up front by the stage before the band started. There was only just barely room for us up there to dance. First time I've seen that for Bob too. Or, for that matter, Jeff or Pat. (Rich too, but, then, that was the first time I've seen Rich play.)

There were two songs I wasn't looking forward to. "Government Cheese" 'cause I don't like the lyrics (don't want to discuss it again). That one, when the played it, I was oblivious to the lyrics, and thus quite enjoyed it. "Nobody Knows" because I wasn't sure I'd like hearing someone else sing one of Steve's songs. But, it turned out okay. I enjoyed it. It helped to be mentally prepared for it. Just before they started it, I reminded myself that I enjoyed it when Dennis DeYoung did Tommy Shaw songs (from Styx) at one of his shows (with one of the guitar players singing), so no reason I shouldn't like a Steve song without Steve.

They played for two hours -- and then came back out for a 5 song encore. :)

There's so many details I could note, if I took time to recollect them all.

(Comments on the Sunday show)

The sky somewhat cleared -- enough for the moon to be visible through the clouds. It was still cold out. But still plenty warm enough in the crowd in front of the stage.

The show started while it was still light hot, and Bob said they look better after dark. I don't agree; they look good in any light. :)

I mentioned (writing about the Saturday show) "Nobody Knows", and hearing someone else sing it. And being mentally prepared for that. What I was not prepared for was the coolness of hearing someone else play Steve's guitar part. Being as, of course, Bob songs have lead guitar too, it's interesting to note how unusual that is. I've had plenty of opportunities to hear Jeff Porter on electric guitar over the past 7 years (playing Rainmakers songs, amongst others) plus the whole Rainmakers show the day before, and yet that stood out (as it had the day before) as unusual.

Related to that, I like that on "Downstream", Jeff does play slide guitar, and nicely, and, yet, definitely has his own way of playing the lead guitar parts on that song. I think I wouldn't like it if he went too far in copying Steve on that song. He gets it right.

The cool addition to this show (versus last night) was some cool stories. During "Big Fat Blonde" the monitors quit working. So, they took a break from playing while it was fixed. Someone up front asked Bob what his weirdest gig ever was. So he told that story, and then a couple others entertaining band stories.

Both nights, I didn't really choose my spot, just stood with my friends. The first night I was right in the middle. Second night I wanted a different spot, but didn't want to c choose between Jeff side and Rich side. I was glad to not choose and let my friends choose. I wound up in between Bob and Jeff. Right by where Jeff was when he stepped forward while playing guitar. Got some nice views of Jeff's playing. :)

Jeff Porter is a great guitar player, and he’s a good addition to the Rainmakers. It was great to watch and hear him play electric guitar.

They are an awesome band, well worth seeing.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Originals and covers, general thoughts

I was thinking about covers versus originals while watching the Nace Brothers out at the Olathe Concert Series May 30th. They had a half hour only. (It was a half hour of them, a half hour of them accompanying the Cate Brothers, and then Rodney Crowell with his band as headliners.) It was a short set, but it was great because it was all originals. (Well, I'm counting the one song they didn't write but did record.) Sometimes at those bar gigs they do, originals are few and far between. I don't so much like that. Oh, the show is still great. But I'd rather hear all originals than all covers.

On the other hand, there's some covers that they do that I'd sure miss if they stopped doing them. I wouldn't want to never hear them again. And I like those songs by the Nace Brothers, specifically, not just generally.

Bob Walkenhorst and Jeff Porter, each of them I'm a fan of as a songwriter and as a singer. Jeff I first came to appreciate as a singer from him doing covers, not originals. Back when we only heard him sing (lead vocals) when Bob broke a guitar string. It's because they are such fine singers that it can be such a delight to hear their versions of songs they didn't write. And I've even discovered and bought CDs of some damn fine singer-songwriters from Bob doing their songs.

I'm plenty willing to admit I enjoy it when they do covers, because I'm a fan of them as singers and musicians. I enjoy the covers. But I'm also a fan of them as songwriters. In Bob's case, Bob's songwriting is how I discovered him and why I was drawn to him as a musician. I didn't listen to Skin (my first Rainmakers album, an album from 1997 that I bought in 2003, and the first album I had with Bob on it) and think, gee, what great singing. It was the songs. And I didn't, back in the 80s, like "Let My People Go-Go" for the vocals. It was the song.

The request/suggestion list I made at a recent show (my substitute for Gary's list) had more covers than originals. But that's because I'm there all the time, plus, so many of the originals I like they do frequently. They could do "The Other Side of the World" (a great song of Bob's from back in the Rainmakers days) every show and I wouldn't tire of it. But it wasn't on my list because they do it frequently anyway, so no reason for me to suggest it. On the other hand, much as I love Bob singing "Tupelo Honey" (the great wonderful Van Morrison), I wouldn't want to hear that every week. I like it as an occasional treat.

Now, if I were someone who doesn't come all the time, and I made a request list (of whatever length), it would be mostly originals. If I were to bother to request stuff, it would be the stuff I particularly want to hear at that particular show that I'm there in person for, and that would be mostly all originals.

So, I like both, I like the balance they've had, and I don't mind that the balance varies from show to show. Heck, that way, it's a treat when they do lots of covers, and it's also a treat when they do hardly any covers and mostly all originals. :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bob Walkenhorst at the Soybean Festival in Norborne, MO, August 11, 2006

(Norborne is Bob's home town. Last year he played there as well, but it rained so the show was in the high school gym.)

No rain this year. So the show was outside at the Soybean Theater. So, as Bob told and sang Norborne related stories, we could look around and see the town. Which was pretty cool.
That is, it was cool to be able to look around and see the town as the stories were told and sang. Though the temperatures were cool too. Cool for August, anyway. Clear and not hot -- perfect outdoor concert weather.

I guess there's really not a lot to say as far as details. No surprises in the set list.

I found it interesting that Bob said that he didn't used to be interested in country music, growing up it was the Beatles and rock and roll. Now, see, I grew up, when I was little (70s), listening to country music because that's what my parents listened to. And after discovering rock radio in the 80s, I didn't abandon listening to country music. And then in the 90s I was back to listening to a lot of country because, frankly, it was the best music of the 90s. (Or, rather, the best music getting played on U.S. radio stations. Flirting With the Universe was, after all, a 90s album, even if I never heard it till 2003. :) )

I've gotten so used to country music being part of Bob's repetoire that it's easy to forget that not all that long ago it wasn't. I even remember those days. :)

That was an intro to "Broken Radio", which is about the best county song I've ever heard. In my probably biased opinion. :)

Bob and Jeff and Gary played about an hour and a half. They played till a little past 9 pm. Bob did two songs by himself, "Burgers" and I forget the 2nd. And then "The Day That We Hung Up The Flag" with just Jeff. Then back to all 3 with with "Downstream".

Oh yeah, one more note. I missed Norm. With no show this past Wednesday, and me being out of town the week before, it'd been 2 weeks and a day since I'd seen Norm play live, and 2 weeks and 2 days since seeing him play with Bob. I'm not used to that kind of deprivation. :) I was feeling that pretty strongly early in the show, but by the end of the show I'd forgotten all about Norm. Norm who? :)

Several Wednesday night regulars were there. Along with a lot of locals. Bob noted that someone had asked him if he knows everyone there, and he said he no longer knows everyone in Norborne, but he probably knows everyone who's there at his show.

Early in the show, Bob told us (among other things) that he was nervous. I can't say I'd've known that if he hadn't said so.

And the show ended with "Let My People Go-Go". :) Good song that we don't get to hear too regularly.

Then we called them back out for an encore and got "One More Summer".

Saywer Brown, Nace Brothers, at the Missouri State Fair, August 10, 2006

I like Sawyer Brown.

Sawyer Brown were playing at the Grandstand the first day of this year's Missouri State Fair. With $1 fair admission on the first day of the fair, and $5 to see Sawyer Brown (general admission), it was a very good value.

Sawyer Brown are a great band, both on recordings and playing live. I've seen then several times and I've never been disappointed.

After Sawyer Brown, I went to the Bud Tent to see the Nace Brothers. Free with fair admission. They were good as always, but this was a bit of a let down after the previous show of theirs I attended, a co-headline gig with Bob Walkenhorst at Knuckleheads in July (which I see I didn't blog about). I think Bob playing before them inspired them to do their best. Plus, it was mostly all originals, and I like their originals. I don't think it would have been worthwhile to drive out to Sedalia just to see the Nace Brothers for this particular show (though I did that in 2005 and it was well worth it). But the combination of Sawyer Brown on the big stage and the Nace Brothers in the Bud Tent made the 2 hour drive well worth it.

Jeff Porter at Zona Rosa, August 5, 2006

(Jeff Porter usually accompanies Bob Walkenhorst. This show, though, was Jeff's show, with Bob Walkenhorst and Jeff Porter accompanying him.)

So, far, I've been to two shows at Zona Rosa. Both with clear weather. No worries of rain. So far so good. But 4 more in the 2nd half of September. Will my luck hold out? We'll see.
It was much hotter than Bob's show back in May. Just as sunny. Well, except this time, when the sun went behind the building, it stayed gone. :)

Jeff had sunglasses on. A concession to the sun. But no hat. Because, as we know, Jeff doesn't wear hats. :) Though Bob and Gary had hats. Bob had hat and sunglasses. Jeff commented on the sunglasses (his own), saying he doesn't do the sunglasses on stage thing, but he made an exception.

Now, me, I think I've seen the Elders do enough outdoor gigs that I'm used to the sunglasses on stage because it's sunny thing.

Oh, right, the music. :)

First, we got lots of Jeff songs. He did all the songs of his that we've heard him do at Bob's Wednesday shows, and one or two more. He also did John Prine's "Paradise". And there may have been another cover or two in there towards the end of that part of the show. Not sure.
Mostly it was Jeff on guitar and singing, Gary on bass, Bob on drums. But they did a couple with Gary sitting out and Bob on guitar ("Paradise" was one of those), and then Jeff did a couple by himself. Then back to all 3, and Bob back to drums.

After maybe an hour and 10 minutes or so, they took a break.

Jeff had out of town relatives there. Though, he pointed out, they weren't there to see him, they were there to see "the famous Porter". That would be Jeff's nephew Chris Porter, who was playing just down the street. As in, look left from the stage and you can see the place Chris was playing at, and his name on the marquis. Across the street and a half block down from the stage Jeff was playing on.

They must have had to get to the Improv (where Chris was playing) early to get a good spot, because it was after they left to go see him perform that Chris showed up and watched part of Jeff's show, before going to do his own show.

I got a picture of Chris's name up on the marquis. And later a picture of him signing autographs. I felt like a paparazzi taking that picture (through the window).

Anyway, after Jeff mentioned his relatives at his show who actually came to see Chris, Bob pointed out that it was an appropriate intro to Jeff's next song. Which was "15 Miles of Fame".

I didn't dance much during this portion of the show because it was just too darn hot.

Like I said, they took a break. Yes, an actual break. A short one. They actually meant it when they said a short break. But, none the less, a real genuine break.

They came back and Bob got to sing a bunch of his songs. All ones where Jeff plays guitar, not drums, which kinda makes sense. Show off Jeff's guitar playing. :) 'Twas good. And somewhere in there Bob took off his hat, and Jeff took off his sunglasses. Actually, Bob also took off his sunglasses, but then later put them back on.

With about 40 minutes left they went back to Jeff singing. He repeated some songs he'd sung earlier. Though, some certain people hadn't heard them the first time because they got there late. I don't think any off us hearing them for a 2nd time minded. And I liked getting to dance, since it was too hot to dance earlier.

Bob played drums (the usual 2 drums that Jeff plays at Bob's shows) sitting, except for both times they did "White Trash" Bob played standing up. Not sure why. But whatever works for him. :)
Oh, in that first set there was one, I recall, that had Bob and Gary both playing, with Bob on guitar. I remember because I remember Bob played guitar sitting for that song. Though when it was just him and Jeff on stage, without Gary, he played standing up.
But, back to the end portion of the show. There were also several cover songs. With Jeff on lead vocals, save "The Boxer" (with it's two part Bob/Jeff harmony) and "Good Lovin'" to close the show, with Jeff and Bob each taking a verse.
That's about all I can think to report. It was good. It wasn't recorded. But Jim and I both took pictures, so it really did happen. :) I'll share pictures when I get a chance. I need to sort though and pick out the good ones (particularly on the repetitive shots, as I did use "continuous shooting" several times).