America's Music at the Library

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Bob Walkenhorst’s regular Wednesday night gig at the Record Bar in Westport is usually standing room only.

And in Norway he’s revered as a rock god who plays before crowds of avid fans.

But you don’t have to stand in line, pay a cover charge, or fly to Scandinavia to get an earful of fresh Walkenhorst.

All you have to do is show up on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.

Walkenhorst, born in Norborne, Missouri, and famed as the singer/songwriter of the legendary rock band The Rainmakers, will be the guest artist at the next installment of America’s Music, the six-part film-and-discussion series that’s been unfolding on Tuesday nights this month at the Library.

Created by the Tribeca Film Institute, the American Library Association, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, America’s Music offers an hour of documentaries about pop music idioms followed by live performances and talks.

So far Library patrons have heard Lawrence bluesman Patrick Nichols hold forth on the National steel guitar, UMKC’s Chuck Haddix explain Kansas City’s place in jazz history, looked into the roots of Broadway and Tin Pan Alley, and tapped their toes to the KC’s own Bluegrass Brigade.

Tuesday night’s program opens with a screening of Plugging In, an episode of the TV documentary The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll that looks at the mid-1960s, when singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan transformed rock from moon-June-spoon songs about teenage romance to a mirror reflecting the upheavals of American society.


Walkenhorst is just the man to illustrate the idea of the singer/songwriter. His songs – Government Cheese, Let My People Go-Go, Big Fat Blonde – combine the wit of Mark Twain with the rockin’ intensity of Chuck Berry.

He’ll play his tunes, talk about his music with our project scholar - UMKC’s Andrew Granade – and, heck, he may even take your requests.

Arrive early for the reception that begins at 6 p.m.

And remember…it’s at the Library. Which means it’s absolutely free.

About the Author

Robert W. Butler is a lifelong Kansas City area resident, a graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School and the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. For several decades he was the movie editor of the Kansas City Star; he now writes a movie-themed blog at He joined the Library's Public Affairs team in 2012.

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