Every week for several years, now, Bob Walkenhorst has played a weekly set at the recordBar in Kansas City. Since he rose to fame in the rock and roll world back in ’86 with the Rainmakers’ self-titled debut, he’s become a hot commodity (mostly here in Westport and especially in Norway, where the band is still huge). The gig is advertised as “Bob Walkenhorst and Friends,” so anything is possible, really.
This week found Bob with fellow Rainmaker Jeff Porter on lead guitar and Norm Dahlor of the premier Irish-American folk outfit The Elders standing in on bass. Before The Rainmakers hit it big, it was Steve, Bob & Rich (Steve is also with the Elders full time and Rich is a Rainmaker). Fans pack the place each week and if you show up on time, you’ll be standing.
Bob runs through hits, deeper cuts, the old and the new. Longtime fans, friends and family dance and sing along like they’re at an intimate house party. It’s something special. Even a few gems from the 2009 Walkenhorst & Porter release No Abandon were played with a passion. From the Rainmakers’ debut, fans rejoiced in “Downstream,” and a spine-tingling “Information,” with Bob on drums, thrilled the crowd. He remained on drums, knocking out many more, including some wicked covers. The trio’s slow and burning rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” was one of the evening’s highlights.
From Tornado was “Lakeview Man” and “One More Summer” (“My genie got married to a CPA / April 15 is her wedding day”). From The Good News and the Bad News was the indelible “Reckoning Day,” with the unforgettable lyrics, “We’re taking the history test of who’s baddest and who is best / Lennon the brother, Lennon the sisters, Lenin the Communist.”
The final half-hour of the two-hour set was all covers, which also included Alice Cooper’s “Be My Lover,” Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” “Rock On” by David Essex, “Boys” by the Shirelles and a bring-the-house-down version of Sam the Sham’s “Wooly Bully.”
In “Turpentine,” from the Rainmakers’ 2011 comeback album 25 On, Bob sings, “When they lay me down in a minor key and they shovel my words in on top of me / I’ll be in that quartet with some friends of mine / An eternity of Wednesdays, turpentine.” So it is, that Bob and friends lurk in the shadows of the recordBar each Wednesday to keep the tradition alive. Long live tradition. To hear this in person (suggested) or to buy some music, visit The Rainmakers.