House concerts are Where It’s At!!

Over the past 50 years I have seen lots of live music, in lots of different venues. Smokey bars; baseball parks; 1,500 seat auditoriums with great acoustics; Chuck Berry’s farm; House of Blues in Chicago; The Fabulous Fox and The Schnitzer….and lots of others.

Many venues remain on my bucket list…places I want to see a show. Red Rocks heads the list, followed by (in no particular order): The Fillmore in S.F., The Gorge Amphitheater, The Troubadour in West Hollywood, Stubbs in Austin…and The Ryman Auditorium, just to name a few.

Of all the places I’ve been entertained and mesmerized, I’m not sure that any of them top a wonderful night at a house concert.

“What is a House Concert? A house concert is a chance to experience music in a warm and intimate environment. It’s when someone opens up their home and invites you into their living room to share in a performance by one of their favorite musicians. It’s a chance to meet the performers and get them to sign their CD. A house concert is also a great social evening of friends and neighbors.” (I stole this paragraph…)

I had never heard of house concerts until moving back to MO in 2011. I learned about them from a woman I met on an online dating site. (That was a first time experience in 2011 too…and is another story, for another day.)

Ginger told me about The Rock House in Reeds Spring. It’s the only place I’ve ever seen a house concert so far, and the pilfered paragraph above is a perfect description of a night in the home of Jeanette and Bruce.

Last night, 12/12/15, was a “great social evening of friends” indeed!! Making it even better were Bob Walkenhorst and Jeff Porter. I had never heard of either them before moving back to MO in 2011….but if I had to list my 10 favorite artists for my Desert Island Disks, their music and that of their band, The Rainmakers, would most certainly make the list. They have been around since the mid-80s, and reformed as a band in 2011….Yes!!

Bob & Jeff played the 3rd house concert I attended. The first real ‘date’ for me and Shelly, her first time at The Rock House, and the first time she saw Bob&Jeff, was a year later on October 13, 2012. Every time I’ve seen them, I leave wanting more and find myself listening to them on the way home and after I’m back in the apartment. Last night was no exception…and the CD changer has been nothing but Walkenhorst & Porter so far today.

They started the show last night with one of my many favorites. I’ve always been a “lyrics junkie” and Bob and Jeff have lots of tunes with lyrics that I relate to. Their opener was “Long gone long” which opens like this: “Older than I used to be, younger than I’m gonna be, Fewer things puzzle me than when I was young…”


Bob grew up in the small town of Norborne, MO. I moved around…Springfield, Monett, Flat River…places I received mail while I was living this verse of the “long gone long”:

“Got into a car that night
Drove out past the signal light
Past the city limits, guess it wasn’t that far
Stopped out on a rural route
Gooch got out his .22
Shooting at a freight train that was hauling new cars”

Now, I never shot a 22 at a freight train hauling cars.

In Springfield, I did launch more than a few hedge apples at passing trains….not to mention high arching ones onto select people’s roofs in the late night hours. Living in Monett…same thing. As a college student at Mineral Area College I graduated to throwing rocks at the freight trains, which were in fact hauling cars. But no guns were fired.
Before last night’s show, I made a couple of requests. Jeff wouldn’t promise that they’d play either tune; I understood…they have a lot of material.

The first set went by too fast…some more of my favorites, plus some new tunes.

I was on the front porch chatting with some friends when it was about time for the second set. We decided to sit outside and enjoy the music from the porch. The weather was unbelievably mild for the 12th day of winter! (I adopted meteorological seasons a few years ago, i.e. my winter started 12/1. That’s a story for a different day….)

A few songs into the second set I was thinking “good god, they are really bringing it tonight…if they don’t play my requests who cares? this is one special evening…”

Then Bob said they had a request and he started telling the story behind the song. I knew right away that as much I was enjoying listening from the porch that I had to get inside and look into their faces as they sang “Like Dogs.” I’ll always remember the very first time I heard this song….and I’ll never forget hearing it last night. It was simply Awesome! (I’ve got lots of “first time tunes”…another story for another day.)

There are people I think of whenever I hear the verses of “Like Dogs.” But the first verse always make me think of one particular person:

“You’re the kind of man that seems to leave a trail
Behind him of the friends that used to be so close
But then in some concocted scene they’ve done you wrong
And so you write ’em off and bye bye they are gone
If you don’t like dogs
What do you like?”

From now on the last line of the song will always make me think of Jeff Porter. When I made my request last night he said that he and Bob had talked about an acquaintance of Bob’s who didn’t like dogs. Later Jeff got a call from Bob saying that he used Jeff’s response as the last line of the song.

“You’re gonna wake up some cold night
And howl till your head’s a throbbin’
If you don’t like dogs what’s your fucking problem?”

Amen and amen.

Here are just a few more lyrics from the songs they played last night. They hit home.

“Never been one to look back
Trying to cover my tracks
To regret or undo what I’ve done
Nows not the time to begin”
{from “stay ahead of the wolves”}

“Cause some days are a comedy, others are a crime
But most are masterpieces of a ludicrous design
Ridiculously beautiful, absurdely rich and dense
I’m delirious with fever; it’s finally making sense.”
{from “ridiculosuly beautiful”}

I could list a lot more lyrics, but i’ll close with some from the tune that closed another great night by Bob & Jeff at The Rock House. It’s from another song that I requested, “Overland Hill.” Like “Long gone long”, it makes me think of my past.

“Down Overland Hill she was waiting there
At the bottom for me with a big blank stare
That was open to anything, legal or not….”

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