Kimmy of I Love KC Music interviewed Bob and Una Walkenhorst for part two of the two part mini series on fathers in music.
Kimmy: Hi! Thanks so much for taking with me. Please tell me a little about yourselves.
Bob & Una: We are a father-daughter duo from Kansas City, Missouri. Bob has been a fixture in the Kansas City and international music scene since the 1980's as lead singer and songwriter for the band The Rainmakers. 2018 finds Bob and Una collaborating after Una's own musical journey, from the release of her debut album "Scars" to her recent years as part of the New Orleans indie music scene. Our common love of traditional songs and 2-part family harmony is bringing about new songs, new visions, and new recordings. Our album, For Tomorrow, will be released Fall of 2018.
Kimmy: What was the music environment like in the house growing up? What kind of music do you like to listen to together?
Una: Music has always been a big part of our home, but there was never any pressure to follow in my dad's footsteps. I spent a lot of time listening to all the cds and records my parents had accumulated: Mimi and Richard Farina, Bob Dylan, T-Rex, and the Beatles being some of the most prominent. I grew up singing with my dad here and there for different shows, but it wasn't until I was about 15 that I really decided that music was something I wanted to do for a living. My dad and I have shared more music with each other recently as we've been recording. Lately he's sent me live videos of Joni Mitchell that he's found while reading her biography and I've shown him some of Maggie Roger's music videos while we've been brainstorming for our own.
Kimmy: Una, what was it like growing up with your dad being a musician. How did this impact your musical career?
Una: I was often asked this question when I would go to my dad's shows as a kid: "What's it like to have Bob Walkenhorst as your father?". I never had a great answer for it because as a kid I didn't fully understand how talented he is. To me he was just my dad. I think that shifted when I started pursuing music professionally and began asking him for advice. Then I started to realize how lucky I was to have this built-in mentor in my life who had already been through so much of what I'm going through now. He helped me record my first album and has been an invaluable part of my learning experience as a musician. If I ever have a question about the guitar, songwriting, gig etiquette, or just need moral support after a tough show, he is always right there to help and I'm incredibly grateful for that.
Kimmy: Bob, what does it mean to be a musician and a father to you?
Bob: Being a musician, a father, and a father OF a musician is an interesting combination to navigate. Making music with Una has been a great learning experience, both of what we have in common, and how we hear and create differently. It did take me a little while to quit being "dad", quit being the older more experienced musician, and just be an equal partner in creating something new with her. That's when really good things started to happen. But I'll always be her father, always worrying about how she's doing, but realizing she's on the journey she's supposed to be on, supporting her and cheering her on.
Kimmy: Tell me about how playing together as a band came about? How does it affect your relationship? I really enjoyed seeing you play together at a Sofar Sounds show. It seemed so comfortable seeing you playing together on stage. Plus the music was great.
Una: We had talked for a year or two about the possibility of recording an album together, but the time was never quite right. Then towards the end of 2017 after living in New Orleans for about two and a half years, I decided I was ready for the next chapter in my personal and professional life, but didn't know exactly where I wanted that to be. So my dad and I decided that while I had this little window of time and he was still open to the idea of going out and traveling to play live shows, I would come back to Kansas City and we would record this album.
Bob & Una: We both feel incredibly lucky to be able to write these songs together. Not everyone has the opportunity to create art with their family and there's something really special about it. Someone recently described our singing as "blood harmonies" which we love an it's true that there's some unidentifiable magic that comes along with related voices. We've both learned so much from each other and it's been so fun to collaborate in a way that neither of us ever has before. The process has definitely brought us closer together and we both have a new respect for each other artistically.
Kimmy: Do you have any shows coming up?
Bob & Una: We're both balancing solo concerts (and Rainmakers concerts) with this new project, so our duo shows don't really get into full swing until later this summer. We'll be doing some private concerts over the next few months with an official release show later in the fall. Our next official duo show is August 13th at the Brick for Rural Grit Happy Hour. You can find show and release updates on our Facebook page under Bob & Una Walkenhorst music and you can find Una's shows on Facebook, as well, under Una Walkenhorst.