This Kansas City-based rock band formed in 1986 and became popular in the Midwest and overseas in Norway. They released five albums in just over a decade, calling it quits after their 1997 album Skin. The band’s lead singer and chief songwriter, Bob Walkenhorst, returned with a solo album, The Beginner, in 2003. A regularly weekly gig at a Kansas City club led to a partnership with another local musician, Jeff Porter. They paired for an album (No Abandon) in 2009.
However, as Walkenhorst acknowledged, “the response was good…but we realized the people who’d come to see us were primarily Rainmakers fans who wanted to hear Rainmakers songs. We won some people over, but we came back thinking a Rainmakers tour was the next, natural thing to do.” TF
With 2011 marking the 25th anniversary of the band’s debut album, the timing was right for a celebratory reunion tour AND a new album. Pat Tomek and Rich Ruth, the band’s original drummer and bassist respectively, signed on board again and Porter filled the shoes of original guitarist Steve Phillips, who was committed to hs band The Elders.
Walkenhorst acknowledged a difference between the group’s material and his solo efforts. “There’s a distinction between songwriting styles…It’s about attitude. There’s some humor on my solo stuff. No Abandon is pretty serious.” TF “When you’re hanging out with the guys, you’re not going to be so sensitive, although there are some heartbreaking songs on the new one, too. But mostly, there are a lot of big smiles.” TF He also said, “It reminded me that, sure, you can be the big, nutty lead singer, but it’s the combination of people and personalities that make a band happen.” TF
“The good news is…their unique vision and sound is fully intact.” JM This is “a true return to form: traditional rock n’ roll about all the non-traditional subjects – politics, turpentine, religion, friendship, delivering newspapers, dying, dogs, driving in the snow, going down swinging, and one about girls.” VR “25 On is another great album from a truly exceptional band.” LTB “The new songs bear the Rainmakers’ imprint, especially Walkenhorst’s inimitable voice and his unusual ways of turning a phrase.” TF “Sense of humor intact, and sense of heartbreak within reach, the Rainmakers deliver it all with meat-and-beer guitars and drums. And a little piano.” VR “For literate, humorous, challenging, lyrics and elemental barroom rock and roll, nobody since Creedence has ever done it better than these guys.” LTB “This is real, this is fun.” VR
“In 25 On, the Rainmakers show that they have not lost one ounce of their fervor to cynicism” JM and “have released what could be their most mature and soulful work to date.” KT “They have not become a listless oldies act and this is not an effort to squander past glory on a distasteful money-grab. This is a great rock & roll album, crafted by masters, who understand that standing behind microphones with all the wisdom of the ages in their back pockets don’t mean squat if the people on the dance floor ain’t smiling. The Rainmakers have managed to…become 25 times as good and still just as much fun.” JM
The quartet used Tomek’s home studio to record the album. As Porter said, “The recording process was very shoot-from-the-hip…And I mean it in good way.” TF
“There are no duds, the Rainmakers don’t do duds.” LTB Songs “run the gamut from a first class melodic rocker (Given Time) to a story of life on the road and the joy of finally getting back home (My Own Bed) to a wicked political stomper that begs Americans to work together (Half a Horse Apiece).” KT “25 On has it’s soft spots as well, as in Baby Grand, which will touch the heart of any father of a daughter.” KT
“The second track finds Walkenhorst rhyming ‘ceiling’ and Vermillion possibly achieved for the first time in music recording history (do the research). On Turpentine, the band grooves to a jazzy piano intro and a soulful wonder of a song as Walkenhorst sings, ‘Got the rollin’ bass, got the baritone / Got a ringin’ high tenor reachin’ Jesus on the phone / And a smooth lead singer got the women cryin’ / Sweatin’ salvation, turpentine.’ This song is a prime example of Walkenhorst’s superb songwriting ability as well as showcasing the entire band’s superior musicianship and harmonies. It sounds like a gospel choir straight off the bayou.” KT
“The album closes with Go Down Swinging, a raucous tribute to life itself, if not simply a musical career. Walkenhorst channels his best gritty-voiced good ole boy blowing away that harmonica and professing, ‘If I go down, I’m gonna go down swingin’ / If I grow old, It won’t be gracefully / I’m gonna trip and fall, and pass it off as dancin’ / I’m gonna croak and moan, say it’s a new kinda singin’ / I’m gonna go down swingin’’ as the rest of the band tries to keep up.” KT
“It sounds like the greatest of parties, but it also witnesses a singer and a band looking at what’s left of their lives. The Rainmakers have a multitude of fans around the world who will likely be transported back in time for a joyous musical experience with a band that has been there and back.” KT