Our favorite blogger-law professor-record producer-space afficionado-dude Glenn Reynolds has a very heartfelt and evocative discussion with Bob Walkenhorst of the Rainmakers on his GlennReynolds.com site:
- Back when I was practicing law in Washington, I went to see a show at the 930 Club, a little place that held a couple of hundred people. There were two unknown bands playing for five bucks. One was Steve Earle. The other was The Rainmakers.
It was one of the best nights of my life, and The Rainmakers were a major reason.
….It’s hard to explain what a breath of fresh air the Rainmakers were then, when hair-metal was the major form of commercially successful rock and roll. The Rainmakers’ main songwriter, singer Bob Walkenhorst, made a point of writing songs about the kinds of things that most people didn’t write songs about: Harry Truman and the A-Bomb, the Apollo 1 fire, the Biblical roots of rock and roll, and so on. And he did it very well.
….Glenn Reynolds:The Beginner has a rather different sound from your work with The Rainmakers. Some of it is more bluesy, other material is more introspective. Is that a function of doing a solo project, or is it just a new direction for you in general?
Bob Walkenhorst: It’s a bit of both. I think when a songwriter is used to working within the structure of a 4-piece band, you get very used to envisioning your songs being played by that band, and, once you set out to create music without that band, it takes a while to hear it a different way. The Rainmakers always played with a very big sound and a lot of kinetic energy. It took me a while to hear my songs being played with a lighter touch and a less forceful delivery. But that seemed to be where my newer stuff wanted to go.
GR: The Beginner has a more stripped-down sound, too. What caused you to move in that direction?
BW: I did a lot of looking back at the music I loved, the music I grew up with, and I asked myself why it sounded so good. Particularly stuff like Buddy Holly and Dylan’s John Wesley Harding album and pre-Revolver Beatles. Why did that sound never cease to captivate me? And I think it’s because those very elemental bass-small drums-one acoustic guitar-no backing vocals songs just leave the singer hanging out there like a raw nerve. No place to hide. You better be delivering something worthwhile because there’s no decorations on the package.
GR: It’s an enhanced CD, with QuickTime versions of videos, song lyrics, etc. What led to to take that approach, and what kind of feedback have you gotten?
BW: I’ve been working in video production for about six years now, so I had all the tools at my disposal. And since it’s pretty impossible to find a broadcast outlet for independent videos these days, this gave me a way to directly give my listeners some videos to go with the songs. And there is one video track on the CD that is not one of the songs on the CD. It’s called Primitivo Garcia. I wrote the song with my daughter’s fourth-grade class. It’s the true story of a Mexican immigrant in Kansas City in the 1960’s who was killed when he rescued his English teacher from a gang attack. The video and song seem to move people deeply. It was a very meaningful project to work on with my daughter’s class, and a good way to keep Primitivo from being forgotten. The song is available for free download at rainmakers.com….
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