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.