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Last night we went to see former Rainmakers lead singer Bob Walkenhorst play at Kansas City's RecordBar on Westport Road.

A brief background:  the first time I ever saw Bob perform was in August 1984 at Kansas State University's Memorial Stadium; pre-Rainmakers band Steve, Bob & Rich headlined the "Welcome Back" concert for students and my roommate ("Cruiser") was a fan and introduced me to their independently-produced album Balls.  Bob played stand-up drums and sang back then, abandoning that for rhythm guitar with the trio added a new drummer and signed a recording contract in late 1985.  I was a fan all during the life of The Rainmakers; they broke up for the first time in 1990 (I went to their various local farewell shows) and Bob did some solo acoustic shows for several years before the band reuninted for albums in 1993 (playing only in Norway where they were very popular) and then in 1997 (followed by U.S. and Norwegian tours up until 1999).  Several years ago, Bob began playing with several local musicians in a Wednesday-night residency at Westport's Molloy Brothers Irish Pub with other former Rainmakers occasionally sitting in.  Last year, Molloy's changed their name to the RecordBar and Bob has continued playing there.  His sets are usually a mixture of his solo material (both pre- and post-Rainmakers), material from his various former bands, and a lot of fun covers.

Melissa (Bryan's bride) picked me up at Marilyn's and we went to the RecordBar early to secure good seating.  Bryan joined us an hour or so later.  I talked with Jay (who records all the shows), Sharon (who is another long-time fan and attends virtually every show), Jim K. (who is probably the best of the various gig photographers), and several others before the show began.  I also talked with Bob who was very excited about my plans and asked all sorts of questions about Thailand and Tim.  He also asked if there was something special I wanted to hear; I couldn't think of anything but he did dedicated the Rainmakers' song "The Other Side Of The World" (from their second album, released in 1987) to me during the show.  Bryan later passed a note requesting Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" (which Bob performed at his very first solo show when Bryan & I attended back in October 1990 but I don't think he's performed since).  I thought this was a great idea (Bob W. always does such a great job on Bob D. songs — you can actually understand the lyrics!); the band made a quick huddle, worked out the chords and played a wonderful version of the classic with Norm taking some of the lead vocals as well as Bob.  They also later performed a great version of Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" and I called out requesting some Creedence Clearwater Revival to which they responded by singing "Proud Mary."

Other special guests at the show included Dave Johnson — one of Bob's bandmates from his very first bands The J-Walkers and Phantasia (he didn't get up to sing, however) — as well as noted K.C. musician John Northern, a good songwriter in his own right (Bob covers some of his songs on occasion as well as playing double-gigs every once in a while).  John provided backing vocals on several songs (including "I Shall Be Released" and The Rainmakers' "Dry Land") and sang lead on "I Carry No Cross But My Own."  After the show (which ended with a fun version of "Get Off Of My Cloud" by The Rolling Stones), Bob had Bryan take a photo of him, Jeff Porter (bass), Norm Dahlor (drums), and myself.

A very nice evening, indeed.