It wasn’t until he flew across the Atlantic to Amsterdam that Lawrence Rengert found his place in the music industry. In the Netherlands, the Santa Barbaran — whose identity has molded into band name Chasing Rainbows — met like-minded musicians who eventually supported his performances and helped create debut album With Henk Jonkers.
As a drummer in Amsterdam, Rengert naturally gravitated toward other drummers; he just happened to meet the most important one of all, Henk Jonkers. “Henk Jonkers, this humble musician who didn’t demand any recognition, basically put together people he played with over the past years and helped me record my album,” Rengert explained — hence the album’s name as an homage. After the record release and a brief 12-venue tour on the West Coast, Rengert and his band flew from California to Europe for a tour, where they played with indie rock bands The War on Drugs, Neutral Milk Hotel, and other big names.
After the tour wrapped, reality hit Rengert: Touring was too expensive. But then he realized the name Chasing Rainbows is “about chasing a dream that’s bigger than yourself that has a mystical, magical, musical feel to it,” he said. The music gods were on his side when he met Vaughn Montgomery from Ojai at Folk Steady, a monthly concert where musicians join together and perform a day of tunes for audiences. Montgomery joined the Chasing Rainbows roster, and now they offer their own nights of unpredictable music. Rengert cited Bob Dylan as an example of how their performances go: “You never really knew what you were going to get at his shows. It would be his songs, but he might have a mariachi band in the back or an electro, psychedelic 10-piece band playing. Audiences will see what I’m excited about right now when they come to the show [in S.B.].”
The evening at the Mercury Lounge will start as a guitar-and-piano duet, “but it’s up to what the audience is feeling,” Rengert said of how the show will progress. He advised that there may be a violin player, percussion, harmonica, and all kinds of instrumentalists that may end up onstage with them by the end of the show. Audiences will still hear the repeated happy-go-lucky The Beatles– and The Velvet Underground–like sounds but with blends of the blues — it’s Dutch and American grooves in one. “You’ll get a different feel with the same material,” he explained.
And the lyrics? Very relatable. “I look back and see the driving force of the songs, like, ‘Oh, those are all about love’; well that makes sense because I was backpacking through Europe, building relationships, falling in love with others and myself,” Rengert said. He didn’t have to go to another country to find others who liked American rock ’n’ roll music. But he went anyway, and what he came back with is much more than music.
Chasing Rainbows and Vaughn Montgomery play Saturday, January 30, at 9 p.m. at the Mercury Lounge (5871 Hollister Ave., Goleta). Call (805) 967-0907.