Sunday, July 31, 2005

Bob Walkenhorst, July 30, 2005; Benefit for NE HS Scholarship Fund


They were playing in the auditorium at the school. Big stage, big space. Lots of empty chairs too. Not that there weren't a good number of people there. But it was a good big auditorium.

Bob's voice filled up that space. Filled up that big stage and that big space where the seating was.

And I was really aware, watching Bob, just how good a performer he is. I felt like Bob's performance was something more than the previous performers of the evening. Except the word performance makes it sound like something artificial, put on. Not at all.

I've only once seen Bob play on a big stage, and that was outdoors, and not an amphitheater. An outdoor stage in front of a flat audience space. So to see Bob play in a theater setting was a treat. I wanna experience that again. :) They did say it will be an annual event, and Bob did say "count me in". So maybe I'll get to. :)

Back to the beginning.

DreamCatcher played first. Yes, they started with a full band, followed by other acts that were just a guy and a guitar. Okay, in two of 3 cases, a guy and a guitar and a harmonica. :) Ernie didn't do any harmonica playing. :)

Actually, I suspected the possibility of Dream Catcher coming back out later, especially since they left all their equipment set up. Plus, I didn't think it would be fitting for the ending to be just Bob by himself. A grander ending seemed more appropriate. Though, it turned out Bob even alone up there was pretty darn spectacular.

Anyway, back to DreamCatcher. They were good. I quite liked them, and wouldn't mind seeing them again. From their website, as well as the program handed out last night "DreamCatcher is an eclectic meeting of Rock-n-roll, Blues, Bluegrass, Country, Funk, Jazz, and Native American genres.". That sounded good to me. And I did like them. One of their members is a Northeast Alumni.

Next up was Ernie Henderson. Readers of this board know him as Orphan of the Road. And like me he's a latter day Bob fan. The best word to describe his set is fun. And fun is a good thing. :) Oh yeah, and he borrowed one of Bob's songs as his opening number. "Spend it on Love". I forget what all he sang, but his last song was "Daydream Believer". Great song which I hadn't heard for a while. I enjoyed hearing it and was singing along. Though I wasn't able to do my best Davey Jones impersonation because that wouldn't fit in with how Ernie sang it. :) I think I've sang along to the Monkees version of that too many times. LOL. Though, actually, I know it first from Anne Murray doing it.

Next up was Bill Kleoppel. Pronounced, if I'm remembering right, Kleple. Probably not surprising that the guy who was doing the introductions (who I think was from the class of '44, and also has been a teacher and administrator at the school), mispronounced the name. But, according to Bill Kleoppel, the guy came up with a new mispronunciation that he hadn't heard. He mispronounced Bob's name too. Walkinghorst. While not that far off, personally, language geek that I am, it bugs the heck out of me. It's like, no, it's Walken, it's a German word and has nothing to do with walking. And then, Bob made a comment during his set about walking all over the neighborhood, and after Bob's set the guy made a joke, mentioning Bob walking all over the neighborhood, "and thus the name". Which made me cringe a little. But, okay, there's a certain cuteness to that kind of comment. Okay, such probably doesn't bug Bob. If it ever did I imagine he's long since gotten over it. Kinda like I've learned not to be bugged when folks somehow think the S in Kozisek is pronounced like a CH. (It's an SH sound, actually.)

But, off the language and name subject and back to the music. Bill Kleoppel was fine. Like, I enjoyed it well enough, but no thoughts of that I'd like to see him perform again. But not at all bad.

And then there was Bob. Last, and very much not least. Bob's talent and experience as a performer really showed.

I don't remember what all songs Bob did. He started with "Long Gone Long". He did "Spend it one Love". Bob commented that when Ernie told him it wasn't air conditioned, he thought (or was that said?) that's okay, he'd pretend he's Hank Williams at the Ryman Auditorium (where the Grand Ole Opry was broadcast from) in 1953. At least, I think 1953 was the year Bob said, though Hank Williams was already dead then (he died either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day 1952/3). Then again, maybe my memory's thrown off by that being the year Bob was born. :) After saying that, Bob did "I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry". And somehow, that Hank Williams at Ryman image seems to fit Bob's performance. Not just that song, but the whole set.

Bob did, I forget the song title, but the hymn that he did once that he sings at funerals. He said Ernie requested he do that one in honor of the alumni who have died.

Bob set tended to be on the mellow side as far as song choice. But, well, like I said, Bob's voice just filled up that stage and auditorium. It didn't feel mellow. It was like, the music took center stage. And Bob as the singer out there presenting it.

Someone in the audience requested "Secret Agent Man". Bob said he likes a challenge, and he played and sang it. And did a damn fine job. There was dancing. :)

One wouldn't think one guy up on stage alone could sound so good. And so full.

Bob did a lot of talking. He talked about his connections with the Northeast neighborhood. Said he lived there from 1983 (or was it 1982?) to 1991. Said two years in a row he worked at the snow cone booth at the Italian festival. Said he used to take walks in the neighborhood, writing songs in his head (or something like that). Said with his wife be bought a house in 1983 at the corner of Thompson and, well, something that began with a B. Anyway, he bought it for 17,000, put 80,000 into it improving it, and sold it for 60,000. He said he decided not to go into the real estate business.

Oh, Bob being introduced was amusing. See, starting off and between performers they did some talking about the school and such. Nothing too terribly long and boring. Well, before Bob's set, as this guy is reading this thing about something in the school history, Bob is setting up, getting his stuff out there and in place, and his guitar hooked up. So there Bob is down in a kneel/squat kind of position working with the guitar hookup or such, and this guy gives the intro to Bob, and I'm not sure he realized where Bob was till after he introduced Bob. But then he goes "and there he is" and indicated Bob there on the floor of the stage setting stuff up. Somehow it seems an oddly fitting way to introduce Bob. The complete lack of a flashy entrance, but rather a non-flashing non-entrance, seems fitting.

Okay, after Bob did a bunch of songs, sounding really, really, really good, DreamCatcher came out and joined Bob, and also some school / alumni association folks came out and did some more talking and such, and closing remarks. And we were told 2 more songs.

2 songs of Bob and DreamCatcher together. The first was "Downstream". That was really cool. As they started it, I was thinking it needed slide guitar. Now, I never think that at Bob shows, so I'm thinking there must have something Rainmakers-ish about how DreamCatcher played it backing Bob. Later in the song I noticed one of the guitarists, Pat (the one who's an alumni), actually did have a slide. But I never saw or heard him use the slide. Bob did some harmonica playing, but it wasn't the same as his playing on the Bob, Jeff, Norm (or other versions of his solo band) version of the song. Bob and DreamCatcher doing "Downstream" was way cool. That song alone was worth the $10.

The last song was "Knockin' On Heaven's Door". (And ever since I've had Warren Zevon singing in my head. I guess I must like Warren Zevon's rendition of that song. :) Which, yes, I know it's a Dylan song. :) ) The Dream Catcher singer sang part of it, and Bob sang part. That was good too. And it's really cool to see (hear) those kind of collaborations between folks who don't usually perform together.

Most of the folks there were alumni of the school. Bob commented that he felt somewhat out of place not being an alumni. (This just before talking about his history with the neighborhood.) Bob, now, think how those of us with no connection to the neighborhood felt. :)

I didn't do much dancing, but I did dance to "Secret Agent Man" (did I mention how good that sounded?) and "Downstream". Though at one point during the song, I found myself standing transfixed, rather than dancing. I had to remind myself to keep dancing. :)

Oh, Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey writer) and the person who wrote (or was that co-wrote?) "Let There Be Peace On Earth" are both alumni of Northeast. :) (Two of many alumni they named. Those are the two I remember.)


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