Rex Hobart & Bob Walkenhorst (& Jeff Porter) at Kansas City’s The Record Bar

Rex photoRex Hobart and his band…whose name I’ve completely misplaced in the increasingly cluttered filing cabinet of my mind…played a terrific pair of sets at The Record Bar Tuesday night. Hobart plays the Westport establishment the first Tuesday of every month, and while he hasn’t released an album is way too long he continues to sound wonderful. I was very impressed by the performance I witnessed, a 75/25 split of covers and original material. He and his band- Darrin on pedal steel, as well as drums, guitar and Craig on bass (and I can’t remember the guitar player’s name- a very nice man, as were Darrin and Craig)- allowed me to sing along with just about every song…from the back of the room- from Tom T. Hall and Wynn Stewart, to Dwight Yoakam and Freddy Fender. The originals were equally impressive, songs like “Here Comes Nothing” and “The Tear I Left Behind.” Wonderful stuff. Rex was kind enough to chat with me for a bit, and updated me on the life of a traveling minstrel after the glamour  of the road loses it appeal. I was most impressed by his life view- no bitterness about not getting over that final hump toward broad-based success, and fully content (and no small bit grateful) to play a few times a month, work as a theatrical carpenter and set designer, and raise his child.

If you are in the area, I heartily recommend catching Rex’s show. And the hummus pizza was absolutely incredible.

Bob Walkenhorst and Jeff Porter played The Record Bar tonight, Wednesday. Having appreciated the music of the Rainmakers since my University days, and having listened to scores of Bob’s live shows posted to the Live Internet Archive, I knew I was in for a wonderful evening of music. The duo didn’t disappoint, with Norm off on the road with The Elders, Steve Phillips’ band. They played an extended two-hour set and were absolutely brilliant. Jeff took the lead on several songs, including “Savannah” and “Still She Waits,” two songs I never tire of hearing, as well as the ‘almost’ standard “15 Miles.” As much as I appreciate that Bob and Jeff truly share the stage, I was there to see and hear Bob (and that has nothing to do with the fact that Jeff doesn’t like bluegrass for more than two songs!)

Appearing more than a little scruffy with a semi-fresh growth of facial hair, Walkenhorst was in terrific voice and appeared to be in an even better mood. He and Jeff barely paused allBob photo evening beyond greeting visitors and acknowledging the familiar crowd. I wasn’t really prepared to be welcomed as a never-before-met cousin by the legion of Wednesday night regulars, but I was. Thanks to all who made me feel part of the family. I even shared a table with Iris DeMent’s yoga teacher, and Jay’s brother Terry. Great folks.

Opening with (I think, and I’ll be terribly embarrassed if my memory has failed me this badly) “I Shall Be Released”, Bob sprinkled in several covers  (but perhaps fewer than usual?) including “Sympathy for the Devil,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” a verse of “I Started a Joke,” as well as songs culled from both the Rainmakers and his own catalogue. “Like Dogs” was performed by request, and “Small Circles,” “One That Got Away,” “Wages of Sin,” “Hoo Dee Hoo,” and others kept the dance floor filled for much of the night. Personal favourites included hearing “Turpentine,” “Jan Vermeer,” and “No Abandon.” I’ll be downloading this one as soon as I get back home; if the count on the site is accurate, this will be the 500th Bob show to be posted there. A shout out to Jay for keeping this tradition alive. Many thanks.

If you are a Walkenhorst/Rainmakers devote, and haven’t made the pilgrimage to the Record Bar, I highly recommend the trip as being well worth the effort. I am very pleased that I was able to experience the show live, and was most likely the only person in the place seeing Bob for the first time.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

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