Ohio

  • Disc One

  •   1. B.P.D.
  •   2. What I'll Remember Most
  •   3. Show Me
  •   4. Jesus In New Orleans
  •   5. Ohio
  •   6. Suitcase
  •   7. Anything At All
  •   8. Professional Daydreamer
  •   9. Lifelong Fling
  •   10. Changes Come
  • Disc Two

  •   1. Long Lost Brother
  •   2. She
  •   3. Nobody Number One
  •   4. Cruel and Pretty
  •   5. Remind Us
  •   6. How Long Have You Been Stoned
  •   7. When You Say Love
  •   8. Fool
  •   9. Hometown Boy
  •   10. Bothered
  •   11. Idea #21 (Not Too Late)
1. B.P.D.

You’re makin’ a mess
Somethin’ I can’t fix
This time you’re on your own

I’d make it alright
But I wouldn’t get it right
I’m leavin’ it alone

For cryin’ outloud
Cryin’ outloud
Cryin’ out
You’re cryin’ out

Yeah

You’re makin’ a mess
Is that what you do best?
Is madness just a hand-me-down?

It’s anyone’s guess
But I must confess
The performance isn’t that profound

Yeah

I’m waiting for the end
Waiting to begin again

You’re makin’ a mess
Somethin’ you can’t hide
A slow suicide
Just one bite at a time

I should love you less
But I can’t I guess
Only God can save us now

Cryin’ out

Yeah

2. What I'll Remember Most

The saddest songs are the happiest
The hardest truths are the easiest
Put us both to the test
And tell me if you still need me
And I will swallow these words
And see if I can still believe

The biggest lies are the little ones
When the look in your eyes is the distant one
Angel or demon
You know that they can share one bed
I’ve laid awake so long
I’ve got them both inside my head

This is what I’ll remember most about dying
So many moments like ghosts
Slipping through my hands in vain
You were 80% angel
10% demon
The rest was hard to explain

This American dream may be poisonous
Violence is contagious
Crowded or empty
I walk these city streets alone
Whoever brought me here
Is gonna have to take me home

This is what I’ll remember most about dying
Loading these moments like a gun
Hoping to kill the pain
You were 80% angel
10% demon
The rest was hard to explain

3. Show Me

I’ve lost the words
It ain’t my way
Takes some a breath
What takes me twenty-five years to say
Baby you’re my favorite rolling stone
Elvis left the building
I have never been so alone

Come on and show me how it feels
Come on and show me how it feels
Can we make it last can we make it real
Come on and show me how it feels

It’s only me in this flimsy dress
I could spread this love from the east to the west
The bed is made the world’s a mess
Maybe we’ve got it backwards
Maybe we should just care less

I close my eyes I see your face
Every inch of your skin I begin to retrace
Let me be the voice inside your head
Listen to me whisper
We can sleep when we’re dead

4. Jesus In New Orleans

The last time I saw Jesus
I was drinking bloody mary’s in the South
In a barroom in New Orleans
Rinsin’ out the bad taste in my mouth

She wore a dark and faded blazer
With a little of the lining hanging out
When the jukebox played Miss Dorothy Moore
I knew that it was him without a doubt

I said the road is my redeemer
I never know just what on earth I’ll find
In the faces of a stranger
In the dark and weary corners of a mind

She said, The last highway is only
As far away as you are from yourself
And no matter just how bad it gets
It does no good to blame somebody else

Ain’t it crazy
What’s revealed when you’re not looking all that close
Ain’t it crazy
How we put to death the ones we need the most

I know I’m not a martyr
I’ve never died for anyone but me
The last frontier is only
The stranger in the mirror that I see

But when I least expect it
Here and there I see my savior’s face
He’s still my favorite loser
Falling for the entire human race

5. Ohio

Hello Ohio
The back roads
I know Ohio
Like the back of my hand
Alone Ohio
Where the river bends
And it’s strange to see your story end

In my life I”ve seen a thousand dreams
Through the threshers all torn to pieces
And the land lay bare
Someone turned a profit there
And a good son lost his life in a strip pit

When the sun went down we would all leave town
And light our fires in Egypt Bottom
And the reservoir was just as good for Joni
‘Cause we knew we would
Dream outloud in the night air

Holly said, Don’t go inside the children’s home
Mary said, Don’t leave your man alone
Valerie was singin’ to the radio
Ohio

It was summertime in ‘83
We were burnin’ out at the rubber tree
Wonderin’ what in the world
Would make all this worthwhile
And if I knew then I was older then
Would I see regret to the last mile

Hello Ohio
The back roads
I know Ohio
Like the back of my hand
Alone Ohio
Where the river bends
And it’s strange to see your story end
How I hate to see your story end
It’s so sad to see your story end

6. Suitcase

Whatcha doin’ with a suitcase
Tryin’ to hit the ground with both feet runnin’
Aren’t you trippin’ on your shoelace

You’re stealin’ away on a sunny day
Well aren’t you ashamed at all
Funny but I feel like I’m fallin’
I wanna beg you to stay
You’re stealin’ away on a sunny day

Why’d you love me in the first place
You were always closer than a brother
I can barely look at your face

I’ve said my I’ve said my
I’ve said my piece
I’m on my
I’m on my
Down on my knees

Whatcha doin’ with a suitcase
Whatcha doin’ with a suitcase

7. Anything At All

I follow you from town to town
I need it
I’m better off when you’re around
I mean it

Sooner or later
Things will all come around again
Sooner or later
I won’t need anything
Anything at all

I walk these streets alone at night
When it hurts me
A perfect life’s an oversight
You curse me

Should’ve known better
Than this esoteric love
Down to the letter
It don’t mean anything
Anything at all

You and I

I wrestle with these guilty thoughts
And I’m losing
You’re all I am I’m what you’re not
Confusing

Sooner or later
Things will all come around for good
Sooner or later
I won’t need anything
Anything at all

8. Professional Daydreamer

Part of me
You are a part of me
I never want to lose
Hard for me
This is too hard
Maybe I can’t get through
What will I miss the most
Pray that I’m haunted by your ghost

Listening
You’re always listening
I don’t know what to say
Why don’t you turn and run at break-neck speed
Just to get away
And when you catch your breath
Pray I said every word I meant

Alright it’s alright now
Alright it’s alright

Broken down
We’re all so broken down
Bandages on our wings
I know I don’t have to tell you
Only broken hearts can sing
I’m hoping for a sign
Pray that I’m anything but fine

Some things are never gonna change
You ought to know by now

9. Lifelong Fling

The moon blind-sided the sky again
As we grabbed loose ends of the tide and then
The slippery slide
You know I can’t say when
I ever took a ride that could slap me this silly
With roiling joy
Lazy as sin
Lyin’ up in heaven with my special friend
And the space he’s in
It can make a girl grin
In the beginning of a lifelong fling

I wrote down a dream
Folded the note
Slipped it in the pocket of my tattered coat

I wrote down a dream
In invisible ink
It never was mine I’m beginning to think

I wrote down a dream
What more could I do
I drew myself a picture and the picture was you

I wrote myself a riddle
I said, What I wouldn’t do
To give something good
To a love like you

I wrote down a dream
Folded the note
Passed it to you we stepped in our boat

Sailed ‘round the world
We were hoping to find
More than the sum of all we left behind

I wrote down a dream
But what was it now
And why does it feel so distant somehow

Did I take too long
Did I get it wrong
You’re still the missing line in my favorite song

10. Changes Come

Changes come
Turn my world around

I have my father’s hand
I have my mother’s tongue
I look for redemption in everyone

I wanna wear your ring
I have a song to sing
It ain’t over babe
In fact it’s just begun

Changes come
Turn my world around
Changes come
Bring the whole thing down

I wanna have our baby
Somedays I think that maybe
This ol’ world’s too fucked up
For any firstborn son

There is all this untouched beauty
The light the dark both running through me
Is there still redemption for anyone

Jesus come
Turn the world around
Lay my burden down
Turn this world around
Bring the whole thing down
Bring it down

 

1. Long Lost Brother

I thought that we’d be
Further along by now
I can’t remember how
We stumbled to this place

I loved you like a long lost brother
On a bad day maybe I thought why bother
I’ve seldom seen so much anger
In a face

I wanna do better
I wanna try harder
I wanna believe
Down to the letter

Jesus and Mary
Can you carry us
Across this ocean
Into the arms of forgiveness

I don’t mean to laugh outloud
I’m trying to come clean
Trying to shed my doubt
Maybe I should just keep
My big mouth shut

More often than not
When it comes to you
You want whatever’s not in front of you
Deep down I know this includes me too

So tell me your troubles
Let your pain rain down
I know my job I’ve been around
I invest in the mess
I’m a low cost dumping ground

Trouble is I’m so exhausted
The plot, you see, I think I’ve lost it
I need the grace to find what can’t be found

2. She

What she would like to do
Is get you out of her head
She’s tried every trick
She’s so sick of thinking about it

What’s so special about you
You’re an ache she’s learned to crave
You’re a blade too dull to raise

But she cuts herself
On you every night
She’s just dying
To lay down the knife

What she would love to do
Is get you out of her bed
She’s played it over and over and over
In her head

But she cuts herself
On you every night
She’s just dying
To lay down the knife

She clings to what’s familiar
She thinks a change would kill her

What she ought to do
Is put a gun to your head
For all the things you said and did

But what she will not do
Is let you go before you’re gone
It’s everything that’s ever been wrong
But it’s all she’s ever known

So she cuts herself on you every night
She’s just dyin’ to lay down her life

3. Nobody Number One

I’m afraid I’ve lost the piece of me
I need the most you see
This puzzle is really just about the need
To be somebody
I’m afraid I’m not all that you see
All along the coast of me
I’m camouflaged, a desert mirage
A nobody

But you came so close and I assumed
You were looking
For the piece of yourself that’s lost
It is the hiding place inside everybody
And though we love to numb the pain
We come to learn that it’s in vain
Pain is our mother
She makes us recognize each other

C’mon now child don’t cry
C’mon now child don’t cry
Let’s give it one more try
C’mon now child don’t cry

Sometimes I feel so all alone
Here in this city I call my home
They say, Hey, you’re one of us
Funny, I should feel so anonymous
But I’m drawn to you
And that still small voice is talking too
And that’s the voice that so seldom can get through

You can’t put no bandaid on this cancer
Like a twenty-dollar bill
For a topless dancer
You need questions
Forget about the answers
Do you really wanna die this way

That’s the trouble with you and me
We always hit the bottom ‘fore we get set free
I’m so far down
I’m beginning to breathe

C’mon now child don’t cry
C’mon now child don’t cry
Let’s give it one more try
C’mon now child don’t cry
Cuz we’re just too young to die

4. Cruel and Pretty

He woke
He knew that he was dying
He spoke
And found that he was flying
Upstairs
High above the city
Through the ceiling of the stars
So cruel and pretty

Arms spread across the dark river
The night air causing him to shiver
Like the fluorescent lights in the Seven Eleven
Meet me in the backstreets of heaven

I don’t wanna kiss you goodbye
I don’t wanna kiss you goodbye
Hello, hello, hello, how the time flies
I don’t wanna kiss you goodbye

He woke
He knew that he was dying
He spoke
And found that he was flying
Upstairs
High above the city
Through the ceiling of the stars
So cruel and pretty

Electric lines and wispy jet contrails
Ships at sea and B&O train rails
A tunnel of light like the Seven Eleven
Meet me in the backstreets of heaven

5. Remind Us

I don’t know where this is going
I’m taking a ride on a wing and a prayer
Follow me there
We’ll both be surprised
If we forget anything
Hopefully nobody will remind us

Can’t bear the news in the evening
We’re going to bed and we’re going to war
All of this for
Anyone’s guess
If we forget anything
Heaven forbid someone would remind us

Sinners and saints, priests and kings
Are we just using God for our own gain
What’s in a name
Open your eyes
If we forget everything
There will be no one left to remind us

I don’t know where this is going
I’m taking a ride on a wing and a prayer
Follow me there
We’ll both be surprised

6. How Long Have You Been Stoned

What’s it like to be the only somebody in the room
Tell us all what does it cost you to be you
Takin’ out Daddy’s trash now ain’t it a drag
Trippin’ on Papa’s brand new body bag

How long have you been stoned

Places
Everybody places
Embrace it
It’s the way it has to be
Wasted
Is everybody wasted
Complacent
Is anybody free

How long have you been stoned

7. When You Say Love

I’m thinking of a word that has been
Knocked up and overused
You could say it’s lost all meaning
From so much abuse

But when you say love, OH

Most everything I ever wanted
Doesn’t really have a name
But baby you’re as close as I’ve come and
I know that it sounds strange

But when you say love, OH

So open up my heart-shaped box
It’s full of combination locks
I’ve swallowed all my love-sick pills
To keep from getting chills
Look at all the books I’ve read
In my lonely single bed

But when you say love, OH

8. Fool

Fool
Fool me
I’m just a sentimental fool
It happened again
When
I remembered you
And all that we’ve been through
Love
Truly
I know this world it can be so cruel
I won’t let you go

Fool
Use me
This is the part that I can’t refuse
Just do what you do
My heart’s becoming true
It aches to make room for you
Fool pursue me
To heaven above or to hell below
Just don’t let go

Fool me
I’m just a sentimental fool
I can’t let you go

9. Hometown Boy

Hey love
What do you say
We get outta here today
You ain’t found your footing yet
But someday you’re going to fly
My hometown boy

Cars up on blocks
The neighborhood’s gone to hell
You wonder if the whole world’s breakin’ down
But you feel somethin’
You feel the need to run
But you don’t know why
My hometown boy

No love
No sloe gin backporch nights for you
We’ve got work to do
White trash blowin’ down the street
Just pipe dreams on paper
But starting tomorrow
We’ve gotta try
Me and my hometown boy

10. Bothered

Don’t be bothered by the fears
I’ll try to bottle them
Like my mother’s perfume
She wore it only on Sunday
Kept it safe in her room
In a chest with a key
We found it anyway

Don’t be bothered by the fears
They’ll only join us like the sky
That blushes red tonight
And makes the wind die down
Calms the troubled sea
More out of duty than pleasure
But out of pleasure nonetheless

Your fire burns me like a favorite song
A song I should have know all along
I feel you move like smoke in my eyes
And that is why

Don’t be bothered by the fears
That sing from my eyes like carrillon
Ringing only on Sunday
On the roof down our street
Finally over the river
Ring for you ring for me
Finally forever
It’s just I never
It’s just I never thought
I never thought that I could be this free

11. Idea #21 (Not Too Late)

Till we lay these weapons at your feet, Lord
How long, how long
Till we call all hatred obsolete, Lord
How long, how long
Till we walk like lovers thru Bethlehem
How long, how long
Till the lion lies down with the lamb, Lord
How long, how long

Too late
I know it’s not too late
To wrestle with this angel
Higher and higher
Don’t let go
Higher and higher
Before we know
How does it end
How does it end
We’re all riding on the last train
Trying to find our way home again

Till we wash the blood from the hands of our fathers
How long
We’re all sisters and brothers, sons and daughters
How long, how long
Our eyes all shine in different colors we cry, Lord
How long
Our dreams our tears are all the same by and by, Lord
How long, how long

Too late
I know it’s not too late
To climb up Jacob’s ladder
Higher and higher
Don’t let go
Higher and higher
Before we know
How does it end
How does it end
We’re all riding on the last train
Trying to find our way home again

It’s not too late

The songs on OHIO connect us to the piece of earth we call home. We grew up in small coal mining towns in the Ohio Valley, listening to music that could have only been unearthed in America: Southern Gospel, Country Western and Rock ‘n’ Roll. This music fertilized the soil of our early lives. We sit down at the upright piano these days with dirt under our fingernails.

Karin was born in San Jose, California, and spent a few early years in Phoenix. But after her grandfather passed away, her mother and grandmother migrated back to Barnesville, Ohio, where they had roots.

I was born in Hartville, Ohio, but my family soon moved to Fairpoint, a tiny town twenty miles or so from Barnesville. As children, both Karin and I could see the distant lights of Big Muskie, the world’s largest dragline earthmover, working long after dark, pulling the tree-lined hills of Ohio apart for coal. A single bite of Big Muskie’s bucket could move 325 tons of earth.

Karin and I met at a small Quaker College in Canton, Ohio. I heard her sing. Like love, a voice can flood a life with possibility, the mouth of a river flowing from somewhere faraway yet familiar. Eventually, we began writing songs together with friends in a Cincinnati neighborhood called Over-the-Rhine. The Ohio River flowed by us all the while, a dozen or so blocks to the South.

We grew up with the musical mingling common to many of us who were raised in “the church.” There were the old hymns that seeped into our souls via our mothers’ milk, and then there was the allure of the music we were finding on our radio dials and on our friends’ records. In small town America, many of us do grow up in a surreal musical world where Elvis is King, Jesus is Lord.

The records we ended up making document in part our attempts to unravel the tangle of religion we inherited. It’s unsettling when someone named Jesus keeps turning up in unexpected places on a double album, but we’re by no means the first songwriters to be Christ-haunted.

One of the few working titles we had for this project was a line Karin lifted from an Anne Lamott novel: A little kick-ass beauty before we die.

One must be careful when it comes to working titles. I remember feeling in the back of my mind like we had to get this music on tape while we still had time. Like this music was our hallelujah in the gospel choir on the Sunday before Black Monday. We did write some about dying, the surest form of foreshadowing, but we didn’t set out to make a double album. That was an accident.

What was it about Paul and that old analog 16-Track, 2” tape machine? We didn’t know much about Paul when we first began working together, but on the few occasions when our paths had previously crossed, he always had a knack for saying something that would stick with us for weeks afterward. And we knew he did a lot of Yoga. (Paul got up every morning at 3am during the making of OHIO and practiced two-and-a-half hours of Kundalini Yoga.)

And Paul would say the oddest things: Thank God for rhythmic imperfections. Or, If it’s not embarrassing, you’re not doing it right. He would be mixing a song and he’d solo a track and announce, That’s where the party is. But probably what he said most often was, It’s done. We would play a new song we barely knew thinking that we were more-or-less warming up, and Paul would tape it and announce, It’s done. We felt set free.

We don’t listen much to our own records after they finally get made, but we find ourselves replaying again and again many of the conversations that take place underneath and around the songs. We talked about Bob Dylan Starter-Kits and Tom Waits Finishing School. Sweaty hickey parties and haunted pianos with broken hearts. Shock and awe, oil and joy. We talked about how we’re often more interesting when we’re misunderstood. And about God, and meditation, and the waitress at the Greek restaurant. We talked about the fact that we had 21 new songs and not one damn hit.

This music was made with an ear to the ground we walk on everyday. We live on this ground, and we will be buried in this dirt. We love the roads that take us far from this place, but those same roads have a way of bringing us back home in the end. If it’s not obvious now, it will be when you hear the records we’re making 20 years from now, D.V.

Linford Detweiler, June 27, 2003
The Grey Ghost

Produced by Mahan Kalpa, Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist.

• Karin Bergquist: Vocals, Piano, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion
• Linford Detweiler: Bass, Piano, Organ, Wurlitzer Electric Piano, Mellotron, Mini-Moog, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
• Tony Paoletta: Pedal Steel, Dobro, Acoustic Slide
• Will Sayles: Drums and Percussion
• Devon Ashley: Drums and Percussion
• Paul Mahern: Percussion, Mini-Moog
• Jake Smith: Bass
• Vess Ruhtenberg: Electric Guitar, Hand-Clap Arrangement
• Jason Wilbur: Electric Guitar
• Megan Weeder: Violin
• Tyron Cooper: Background Vocals, Choir Arrangement, featuring Stephanie Parker and Natasha Evans

Recorded and Mixed by Paul Mahern at Echo Park, Studio B, Bloomington, Indiana, between February and April, 2003. Additional recording by Jake Belser; and Linford Detweiler at The Grey Ghost. Technical support: Mike Stucker, Kevin Loyal, Nate Halverson.

Photographs by Michael Wilson.
Design by Owen Brock.
Immense thanks to our families, friends and to our extended musical family.

To contact Over the Rhine: OTRhine@aol.com, or P.O. Box 12078, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45212.

For all lyrics, additional credits, notes, concert dates and much more, please visit overtherhine.com. There is a special edition of OHIO available on vinyl.

For booking info please contact Ali Giampino at The Billions Corporation: Giampino@billions.com, 206.362.2316.

All songs published by Scampering Songs Publishing, ASCAP/Nett Music, ASCAP c/o Nettwerk Songs Publishing Ltd., except Bothered, Scampering Songs Publishing, ASCAP/GMMI Inc./Sony Tunes Inc.

Also available from Over the Rhine on Back Porch: Films For Radio, Good Dog Bad Dog.

Receive news about artists, concerts and new albums from Back Porch Records. Please visit www.backporchrecords.com, call 414-961-8350, e-mail your address to info@backporchrecords.com, or write Back Porch Records, 4650 N. Port Washington Road, Milwaukee, WI 53212.

Performing Songwriter: Rating 4 1/2 Stars
By Clay Steakley

“(Opening Scene: music critic shaking fist at editor, “You want me to review this in how many words?!!? You devil, you.”) A record of disarming beauty and stunning emotional focus. Very rarely does a band like this come down the pike and even more rarely do they consistently top themselves. Rarer still are songwriting teams like Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist, who craft hushed, heart-rending songs of love, faith, doubt and joy. The 21 songs represented here are set in an unpolished sonic setting and deeply layered with texture upon texture of engaging instrumentation.

Then there’s Bergquist - a singer unparalleled in her subtle twists of emotion, her understated delivery and her springwater clear voice. The songs range from whispery piano/vocal outings to full-band drives and hit every variation between. The combination of Bergquist’s voice with superb songwriting and tasteful playing makes this a highlight record of the year.”

Cincinnati City Beat
By Mike Breen

I recently mentioned to a friend that Over the Rhine was going to be an upcoming cover story subject in an issue of CityBeat, the band’s hometown weekly paper. His reaction summed up the under-the-radar status OtR seems to have sometimes in the “Local Music Scene.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, starting his response with an apologetic tone, “but do they even matter anymore?”

The retort was understandable, given the band’s low profile on the local front in recent years. But, in a scene where at least one-third of the artists think a record, publishing or management deal is the be-all, end-all, another third just wants creative freedom and relative isolation to explore their hobby to the fullest and the remainder are trying to make a living, here’s a band with all of those aspects rolled into one.

They have a major label deal with an imprint known for allowing acts to develop without “I don’t hear a single” nibblings at their ears. It provides an assumedly modest income. And they remain in a city far enough away from biz-central that distractions are minimal.

In multi-instrumentalist Linford Detweiler and singer Karin Bergquist’s music comes the sense of self-controlled empowerment. The OtR braintrust has more in common with “career artists” like Neil Young or Tom Petty but without the orneriness that boils the blood of label execs counting on a bottom line.

It’s Over the Rhine’s seemingly infinite artistic liberty that first comes to mind when digging into their double-disc opus, Ohio, their latest for Back Porch/Virgin. The label might not bankroll an Over the Rhine Rap/Metal album, but they trust the band’s instincts enough to follow them on their journeys (nowadays, how many non-Gold-record-selling, major-label artists are given permission to release a two-disc set?).

The trip through Ohio is a far more expansive journey than any of their past recordings. While they do traipse through uncommon ground, the gentle, ethereal sound of OtR still is instantly recognizable.

OtR’s emotive, airy atmospherics have been their most obvious trademark, but that lilt is something they’ve had to artfully adapt over the years, particularly with the loss of guitarist Ric Hordinski and the shift toward a more grounded sound. On Ohio (and the slightly less organic but still stunning previous album, Films For Radio), the duo is far from relying on a sonic fog machine for candle-lit ambiance anymore, dispensing a sparseness that utilizes basic elements -- piano, light drums, sparse acoustic and electric guitar, pedal steel -- that somehow still manages to create a spacious haze.

The band’s mystical glide on Ohio’s “What I’ll Remember Most,” “Long Lost Brother” and the astonishing, nostalgic title track translates more soulfully than ever, the warm minimalism and immediacy of the album’s production drawing out the songs’ essence like a seductive spell. The “hushed lullaby” mannerisms of old OtR material are given a seductive intimacy here that makes them more strikingly beautiful than ever.

OtR has always had a knack for timeless Pop songcraft, and Ohio is liberally sprinkled with a smattering of rootsy melodic gems, including the instantly memorable “Show Me” and the boozy “Jesus in New Orleans.” Bergquist’s soul-stirring vocals are perfect for the more expansive material, but she also has the ability to boldly deliver a hook to great effect.

While those techniques are developed to the point of excellence here with their natural maturity as musicians and songwriters, these are things OtR has always done. The disc contains some of the finer songwriting moments in their canon, but it’s the relatively precarious chances they take as you get deeper into Ohio that are most interesting, collapsing the sometimes redundant, cyclical hum and making the album all the more alluring.

It’s like going to an overly cordial friend’s house for an overnight stay and being accommodated with pillows, blankets, Scrabble, Classical music and warm milk. When they break out the Parliament records and Ecstasy, you know you’ll remember your stay forever.

While Bergquist and Detweiler retain their innate subtlety and earnest tack throughout, the little stylistic jumps are what makes Ohio most engaging -- even her uttering “fucked up” on “Changes Come” creates a poignant rise. “Lifelong Fling” is a surprisingly impacting slice of Neo Soul, devoid of over-reaching artifice and tempered by the band’s distinct, singular affability. On “Nobody Number One,” Bergquist displays her still-in-character brand of spoken “rap,” which doesn’t really work but still is a revitalizing diversion.

Elsewhere, “When You Say Love” is a rare moment of giddy jubilance, thanks to an endearingly awkward keyboard spaz-out that sounds lifted from an early Elvis Costello and the Attractions record. The Gospel choir chants in the closing number, “Idea #21 (Not Too Late),” is the ideal exit for an album that at times feels like a real-time spiritual quest.

While “double albums” are a vintage Rock & Roll move, in these days of gratuitously long CDs the question of their necessity is begged. The short answer is Ohio would be a better single disc collection -- it’s crammed with 21 “good” songs but only about two-thirds worth of “great” ones.

By the end of the epic, you’re left a little drained. Still, the gesture of a double album somehow perfectly fits OtR’s mysterious, romantic and fantasist demeanor. It creates a glorious golden frame for the band’s majestic canvas.

To answer my friend’s question: Yes, Over the Rhine matters. Artistically, they’re as vital as ever. Ohio is low-key brilliance and stands as their best work yet in a strong discography that gets better with time.
CityBeat grade: B.


Cincinnati City Beat
By Brian Bake

For Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist, the founders and sole remaining creative forces of Over the Rhine, home has always been both an abstract concept and a concrete reality.

After moving to Cincinnati from smalltown Ohio nearly a decade and a half ago, the city became the pair’s adopted hometown. It’s also been the base of operations for OtR, their gauzily pretty Pop band (once self-described as “post-nuclear, pseudo-alternative, folk-tinged art-pop”) that’s inspired an exponentially large and cultishly fierce fan base over the years. The groundswell began in Cincinnati naturally as OtR rose in the local ranks, then quickly grew as they were embraced by a regional audience, until finally they belonged to the rarified world of nationally and internationally renowned recording artists.

And with each successive tep, home became an increasingly fractured reality. Home was two small towns in Northern Ohio. Home was the two apartments Detweiler and Bergquist maintained in the 150-year-old neighborhood that was the band’s namesake and earliest songwriting inspiration, places they kept even after their 1996 marriage. Home was a van and a stranger’s couch and an endless succession of hotel rooms. Home was a studio.

After working long and hard to escape the gravitational idea that they were a local band -- OtR’s only area appearances for several years now have been their annual Christmas shows -- Detweiler and Bergquist have returned home. Not in the literal sense, though. OtR is firmly ensconced in their major-label recording contract with Virgin Records imprint Back Porch, and they’re still a band that very much belongs to the world.

And yet the roots of OtR’s 10th and latest album, Ohio, are, as the title would imply, very much a product of Detweiler’s and Bergquist’s childhood experiences and earliest influences, all of which were cultivated here in the state that now serves as the banner for their new work.

A sort of homecoming
It’s fitting then that with all of this talk of home, the conversation concerning Over the Rhine’s latest project should take place in the cozy kitchen of the Norwood home that is OtR’s new base of operations. Neil Young’s Decade, Bergquist’s avowed favorite album of all time, plays in the background as wine glasses are filled and memories recent and distant are recounted to explain both the motivation and the execution of Ohio, the first double album in OtR’s extensive catalog.

As with most creative endeavors, especially by groups with long and much-examined histories, Ohio began with a little bit of healthy soul searching.

“Now that we’ve been doing this for a while, I think there’s always a period of questioning and self-doubt, or at least self-awareness, that precedes the recording of a batch of new songs,” Bergquist says. “Do we still believe in our music? Are we repeating ourselves? Is there still a spark? But once we got into these songs, we had the overwhelming sensation that we were coming home.”

Detweiler paints a similar picture but uses hues suggestive of a band coming to grips not just with a new album but also with its very survival.

“We turned a corner when we were making Ohio,” he says honestly. “Something happened. We realized that, barring any unforeseen misfortune, we were going to be making records for the next 20 years. Songwriting and recording and spreading our songs around to whoever has ears to hear is just what we do.

“Now, more than ever, I really believe that our music probably has a lot to do with why we’re here. I no longer have the sneaking suspicion that we will eventually set aside our songs and do something more important with our lives.”

If Detweiler had come to any other conclusion, OtR’s fans would have challenged his idea of importance on any number of fronts. Since forming Over the Rhine in 1989 (with original guitarist Ric Hordinski and drummer Brian Kelly) and playing their first gig at Sudsy Malone’s, the band has consistently been a fan favorite.

That fandom spread as OtR’s circle of exposure widened. They self-released ‘Til We Have Faces in 1990 and Patience in 1991 (which also featured the photography of soon-to-be-huge Cincinnatian Michael Wilson) and signed to IRS Records, which reissued both albums and released Eve in 1994.

The band’s watershed year was 1996. IRS was dissolved in a corporate merger and OtR was freed from their contract, which cleared them to release a pair of dark acoustic albums: Good Dog Bad Dog and The Darkest Night of the Year, a moody rumination on Christmas. Detweiler and Bergquist decided to make their romantic pairing permanent by marrying in the fall; two months later, Hordinski left to concentrate on his side project Monk and Kelly (now with Cincinnati band Anonymous Bosch) bowed out as well.

The following year saw the fan club release of Besides, a rarities compilation. Not long after, OtR was signed to Back Porch, the small Blues/Folk imprint of Virgin Records. Amateur Shortwave Radio was the first release under the deal in 1999, and 2001 marked the much acclaimed Films for Radio, as OtR became a duo surrounded by a rotating cast of hand-picked musicians.

The road to ‘Ohio’
Two years later, and with the air cleared of any lingering doubts about the band’s immediate and long-term future, Bergquist and Detweiler set to work on the songs that would comprise Ohio. Ironically, the title track was the first song written for the project, although a few of the songs had actually been kicking around for quite a while.

“ ‘Suitcase’ was written 10 years ago and basically shelved until these recording sessions,” Bergquist says. “’Show Me’ was also written at least four or five years ago but continued to morph lyrically up until the day we finally put it on tape. ‘Anything at All’ was written on the road a few years back, but we’ve been playing it out for some time. It was inspired in part by a treasured conversation between myself and (local Bluegrass musician) Katie Laur and in part by my own experience of life on the road. But much of the project is very new.”

As the writing and demoing for Ohio continued, it became apparent to Detweiler and Bergquist that they were beginning to amass a sizable body of songs for a single album. Considering they’d just questioned their ability to bring something fresh to their process, the amount of material they were producing was something of a revelation.

“We went into the studio knowing that we had quite a few songs,” Bergquist says of OtR’s wealth of material. “There had been some talk of maybe recording two projects simultaneously -- one more bare-boned and acoustic in nature and one more full-blown, more of a band project. But as the sessions progressed we were having a really hard time imagining how to separate the songs. They felt like a body of work. The songs felt like they belonged together.”

Although the duo hadn’t consciously set out to make a concept album, and while it’s clear that Ohio doesn’t contain the requisite narrative thread to satisfy the definition, the songs transcend their inherent differences and hang together in a loose but coherent musical arc. (See Mike Breen’s review of Ohio.)

Detweiler’s sense of the album’s connectivity is manifested in the presence of his and Bergquist’s earliest influences on OtR’s sound over the years.

“Ohio, perhaps more than any other record we’ve made, celebrates the music we grew up with in small Ohio towns: Gospel, Country, Rock & Roll,” he says. “There was the music we were hearing in church. My first public performance was at a small revival meeting at the church in Fairpoint, Ohio, where my father was minister. I played the hymn ‘I’ll Fly Away’ on an old upright piano.

“But there was a different kind of revival that was seeping into us simultaneously via our friends’ record collections: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, The Pretenders, Janis Joplin. We were growing up in a surreal musical world where Elvis is King and Jesus is Lord.”

The intersection between secular and spiritual music has always been the foundation of OtR’s sonic philosophy, the hushed reverence of their musical presentation balanced with the interpretive feel of their lyrical message -- all of it deeply touched by Detweiler’s and Bergquist’s individual upbringings and full range of musical experiences. After nine albums of exploring that range one record and one genre at a time, it’s an interesting twist that they’ve used Ohio as a forum to examine all of their influences simultaneously -- from the winsome Soul/Pop of “Nobody Number One” and “Lifelong Fling” to the propulsive Rock shudder of “How Long Have You Been Stoned” to the Country sigh of “Jesus in New Orleans” to the moving piano balladry of the title track.

Although Ohio producer Paul Mahern might have enhanced the colors in the sonic quilt the band had assembled, the album’s relative complexity wasn’t his original suggestion for the band.

“Paul really wanted us to make a simple record,” Detweiler says. “So we worked primarily on an old 16-track analog tape machine, and we didn’t use any loops or samples.”

Detweiler and Bergquist met Mahern in Bloomington, Ind., while doing some recording at Echo Park Studios. When the subject of producers for Ohio surfaced, they both thought of him for the job. For his part, Mahern immersed himself in OtR’s ambiance by listening to every single recording by the band.

“He said he really liked our previous records, but he said he felt like there was a veil between Karin and the listener,” Detweiler says. “He wanted to remove that veil.”

That’s where Mahern’s concept of simplicity came to the fore. His belief was that OtR would be better served with as little instrumentation as possible and Bergquist’s voice front and center on everything -- a definite difference from the gauzy and amorphous production beauty of the band’s earlier work.

And even with the numerous genre-inclusive arrangements that kept insinuating themselves into the project, Mahern’s simplicity manifesto won the day. Although Ohio is rife with every musical influence OtR has absorbed over the years, the translation of those influences is sparsely elegant.

Dual intentions
As the sessions for Ohio moved to the mixing phase, the amount of material was on everyone’s minds.

“Right before we started mixing, I was sitting on the couch and I turned to Karin and Paul and said, ‘Double album,’ “ Detweiler says. “After everybody quit laughing, we all sort of realized that in some subversive way it made perfect sense. It was a huge relief to know that we didn’t have to narrow the record down to 10 or 12 songs and leave the rest for a year or two later or whatever. Plus, we have a finely honed instinct for commercial disaster, and the idea of a double album seemed to fit perfectly with that legacy.”

With 21 songs to put in some semblance of a creative order, sequencing Ohio should have been harder than it was, based on Detweiler’s history in this regard.

“We didn’t really think about it that much,” he says. “That was our first crack at the sequence. After we mixed the last song, we went back to the hotel room and cut that together. I did, in my mind, imagine turning the record over, halfway through each CD.”

“It was the least amount of agonizing I’ve ever seen him do over a sequence,” Bergquist says with a weary laugh.

“I’m an agony freak,” Detweiler admits. “For years, we’ve talked about taking a list of titles to a psychic and just handing them over and saying, ‘Give me the order.’ “

With most of the physical work done, all that remained was to sell the idea of a double album to Back Porch.

“It was one of those calls that starts out, ‘Are you sitting down?’ “ Detweiler says. “We just told them that we accidentally made a double album and that we wanted to put it out that way and sell it for the price of a single CD. They hadn’t heard a demo, a track or a rough mix from the album until we sat down and played the whole thing for them. There was some vigorous discussion, but in the end they decided to do it.”

Detweiler and Bergquist have strong feelings about becoming a part of the double album fraternity (which will include OtR’s first-ever vinyl release to be packaged in an old-fashioned gatefold sleeve with lyrics printed on the inner sleeves).

“The lure of the double album is an important footnote in Rock & Roll history,” Detweiler says. “It’s hard to imagine the history of Rock without “The White Album,” London Calling, Exile on Main Street, Songs in the Key of Life, Electric Ladyland. Everybody seems to have their favorite and their least favorite. Where have all the double albums gone?”

Bergquist looks at the experimental aspect of the expanded form as an opportunity for the band and its fans to stretch in their appreciation for each other.

“We figured that for a double album to work there had to be a lot of variety, but there also had to be something quintessential to the band in every song,” she says. “So that’s the way we approached mixing the project. There also has to be a song or two that leaves people scratching their heads.

“For example, Linford almost got beat up once when he suggested to somebody touring with us that (The Beatles’) ‘Why Don’t We Do It in the Road’ might arguably be a throwaway song. Turns out it was the other person’s favorite song on ‘The White Album.’ I love the fact that on a double album you can push the envelope a bit and a moment that might be a non-sequitur to some people might be another person’s definitive moment.”

High dichotomy
And therein lies the dichotomy that’s always defined the heart of Over the Rhine. The local band that transcended the scene that spawned it almost immediately. The spiritual band with the secular ties. The major label band with the indie mindset. The husband and wife who live and work and travel and create together and who remain in a personal and creative relationship despite it all.

When the topic of how they manage to work and live together arises, Detweiler and Bergquist exchange a look and a laugh and share a story that illustrates the surprises they hold for each other and for their fans as well.

“We were invited to address a songwriting seminar, which was kind of funny to us anyway,” Detweiler says. “We came up with a list of ‘The Top 10 Rules of Songwriting.’ The No. 1 rule was, ‘Don’t start a band with your fucking wife.’ “

“And No. 2 was,” Bergquist says, picking up the thread, “ ‘If you do, you can kiss my ass.’ It wound up being a conservative crowd, so we didn’t go with that.”

But it’s likely not far from that dichotomous truth. The successes that Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist have achieved over the past 15 years have come by way of a number of devices both internal and external. Humor. Bad breaks. Good breaks. Grace. Love. And heart.

After all, that’s where the home is.


PopMatters
By Matt Cibula

Let me get this straight right from the start: I have never heard any of Over the Rhine’s records before this one, I have never seen them live, all I know about them is from their website and the info sheets sent out by the label and this record, Ohio. So it’s not some OtR-cult follower talking, just me, a critic on PopMatters with no agenda whatsoever, when I say that this is perhaps my favorite record of the year so far.

Simply put, this is the one where Over the Rhine goes for it all. The band, which consists essentially of married songwriters Karin Bergquist (also the singer) and Linford Detweiler, has been around the art-pop and alt.country scenes for more than a decade without ever really breaking out into mass consciousness. I can’t even remember reading any reviews of their records -- that might just be my faulty memory, or it might be their unmemorable band name -- it comes from Over-the-Rhine, the artsy/dangerous neighborhood of Cincinnati where they lived when they first started out. How the hell is anyone supposed to remember that name? (It’s also handy for haters; this critic I know says that his wife calls them “Over the Rated.” Har har, it is to laugh.)

Then again, their cult status might be due to the fact that they’ve played almost entirely to their cult. Two compilations of uncollected songs for a group that’s never been anywhere near any charts? Thoughtful online tour diaries and literature recommendations on their website? Clearly, this is a band that is comfortable with their underground status. The easiest thing for them to do, obviously, would be to just play out the clock -- keep pumping out the same sort of stuff that they’ve always done, make their tiny little audience happy enough, leave the boundaries unpushed, etc.

And maybe they’ve done that here, I don’t know -- I’ve never heard their other stuff, and I’m not part of the cult. But that would make their other records even more impressive than this one, and I don’t really think that could possibly be the case. Ohio doesn’t sound like a group on cruise control. First off, it’s a double album. Sure, they could easily have left a couple of tracks off and kept it at a long single disc, but they made a decision not to do that, to just record all the new songs they loved and see how they fit together. [Full disclosure: I love double albums, if they’re done right. Anyone who thinks they’re prima facie pretentious is just afraid of commitment.] And there is only one song here that could be credibly and easily left off (Disc Two’s “She”), which still wouldn’t cut it down under 80 minutes, so I’m glad they left it in, because I love it more every time I hear it.

Secondly, this record is nakedly emotional in a way that a cruise-control indie band could never be. I put this on for the first time not knowing what to expect, and heard the simple piano chords of “B.P.D.” on Disc One for all of six seconds before being introduced to the singing of Karin Bergquist: “You’re making a mess / Something I can’t fix / This time you’re all alone / I’d make it alright / But I wouldn’t get it right / I’m leavin’ it alone”. This voice, equal parts country- and rock-loving small-town Ohio girl and neo-boho jazz-torch sophisticate, is just a damned juggernaut through all my critical defenses -- Bergquist is as powerful and damaged a singer as Allison Moorer, which is high enough praise for anyone, I think. There should be awards for the way Bergquist flips the script from the resigned “crying out loud, crying out loud” into the bleak “crying out” in this song, and the way she makes the wordless chanted chorus work for her is uncanny like an X-Man. And “B.P.D.”’s status as the year’s best power ballad is cemented right near the end, when a huge crashing metal guitar riff explodes the gentle sad mood into a full-on arena-rock sing-along. A lot of lighters are gonna burn out over this one.

It’s tempting to dwell on this hypnotic voice, and I will do so myself in a while, but let’s cut Detweiler into this a bit. Judging from writing credits for their other records, it seems that he’s always been the main songwriter of the group, main bandleader, spokesman, guiding light, etc. But here just about all the songs are written by both of them together, and it sounds that way; Bergquist may be the singer, but she’s not the only thing happening in Over the Rhine. Disc Two has a number of great form-meets-function moments. The extreme self-flagellation of “Long Lost Brother” would be unbearable were it not for the laid-back funk of the drumbeat and Tony Paoletta’s slide guitar work, so when Bergquist’s voice cracks as she is wailing “I wanna do better! / I wanna try harder! / I wanna believe / Down to the letter” it doesn’t sound affected or silly or anything except real, lovely, true, and other unfashionable abstract nouns. “How Long Have You Been Stoned” weds ‘70s stoner rock to a Macy Gray sort of psychedelic murk, and Detweiler’s Procol Harum organ line on “Fool” turns the song from an arpeggiated 3/4 lope into a brand-new country classic that will sadly never be covered by anyone from Nashville.

These songs, as you might imagine on a double album by an uncategorizable band, are all over the place in tone and instrumentation: the mournful Rickie Lee Jones-ish (Magazine-era) piano ballad of the title track has little in common with either the song that comes right before, the fakey-tonk “Jesus in New Orleans” (“The last time I saw Jesus / I was drinking bloody marys / In the South”), or the one that follows, the album’s most audacious and telling piece, the beautiful “Suitcase”. This song is deceptive with a capital D; at first, it’s a sweet heartrending slow-burner about the end of a relationship: “Whatcha doin’ with a suitcase? / Tryin’a hit the ground running?” But then you start noticing that its circular unresolved chord structure sounds kind of familiar, where is that from, where have you heard that before, and then Bergquist sings “Funny but I feel like I’m fallin’ / I wanna beg you to stay”, and you see how that echoes the line from that Stevie Nicks song on Tusk, and it all hits you: “Suitcase” is “Beautiful Child, Part 2”! The younger guy is tired of her now, and is leaving her, and she’s devastated but she sees the fatalistic humor in it all, and it’s doubly sad and somehow less sad for it . . .

… and then you realize why Ohio had to be a double album, that Over the Rhine has gone and made their Tusk, every mood and every genre they could think of had to go into the stew, they’re charting everything that they ever felt, throwing in every riff and style they’ve ever heard, incorporating soul and country and hip-hop (“Nobody Number One” is straight-up talking-blues rap, yo) and whatever it is that Tom Waits and Mary J. Blige do in their songs, “fallin’ for the entire human race”. (That’s from “Jesus in New Orleans”, just one of the songs that Detweiler calls “Christ-haunted” in the liner notes; they aren’t proselytizing, they aren’t denying anything, it’s all good, don’t worry -- Bergquist calls Jesus “still my favorite loser”.)

But I could talk and justify and quote all night, and never get to the bone-dry truth that “Professional Daydreamer” is the prettiest song I think I’ve ever heard, so incredibly sad and brave and Janet-Gaynor-smiling-through-her-tears lovely that I’m welling up now just thinking about it, or to fully explain just what it is about Karin Bergquist’s voice that makes “Lifelong Fling” so sexy, or how Detweiler manages to incorporate two of the best lines of the year (“This is what I remember most about dying” and “You were 80% angel, 10% demon, the rest is hard to define”) in the same song. Ultimately, this homegrown Tusk cannot be quantified, can only be experienced first-hand. Preferably with headphones, preferably with a bottle of pretty-good wine, preferably with a box of Kleenex nearby. God damn it, this is a great achievement by a band that has just slammed the door on “cult status” forever.

— 10 September 2003

All Music Guide Review
by Thom Jurek

It’s mystifying that the recordings that give listeners all the trouble are the albums that offer a lasting impact. Over the Rhine’s Ohio is just such an album. It is a sprawling, two-disc sermon on want, need, recalcitrance, and traditional American spiritual matters viewed in an untraditional manner. Produced by OTR and Mahan Kalpa, it is full of contradiction and represents two different sides of the band’s sound. Disc one is almost completely devoid of rhythm and has nothing whatsoever to do with rock & roll; its dynamic is fragmented to the point of being absent in places, and its pace is like that of a slow, controlled, forest burn. Disc two is rhythmically more varied and projects the questions on disc one more forcefully. Emotion, physical desire, and spiritual catharsis are not so artfully stated, making them come to the listener more immediately; and ultimately, there is some haunted spirit of rock & roll present in its tracks. As an album, Ohio, with its sense of tight tracking and meticulous overdubbing, carefully positioned silences, lyrical artifice, and an insistence on absolute control, seemingly turns back on itself and stands in opposition to the rest of the band’s catalog, and in places, stands against itself. Because of its utter lack of playfulness and self-conscious seriousness, it seems to move against the grain that rock & roll by its inherent nature, revels in. However, none of this is to be discounted. There is great value in the aesthetic view that Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist hold in their collective, velvet-gloved fists. When feeling a record on a gut level as deeply as Ohio demands, it becomes imperative for the listener to observe not only the narrative journeys in the songs themselves, but the one going on in the mirror as well. Ohio is full of OTR’s trademark struggle with the fractured beauty, the brokenness, the sacred, the lure to redeem the sensual and the sexual from the tawdriness of popular culture, the revelation in everyday life, the nagging, seemingly eternal doubt that has been discarded as profane or blasphemous by those wishing to discount the human condition, and so forth. In other words, these transcendent themes are also central to the evolution of not only rock & roll, but popular music across the board.

On disc one, songs such as the opener, “B.F.D.,” and “What I’ll Remember Most,” with whinnying pedal steel guitars (courtesy of under-recognized guitarist Tony Paoletta), brushed drums, and acoustic six strings, become accoutrements for Bergquist to explore the deep, hers, Detweiler’s, and yours as you twist uncomfortably in the jagged ellipses at the end of her lines. The more itchy the lyrics get, the more pronounced the artifice becomes -- “Jesus in New Orleans,” a song that is unbelievable in its haggard gospel setting, becomes shiny new because of that uptight framework. Disc two comes from the heart of the process, immediately in the moment. In the songs that reference something outside the first person, such as “She,” “Another Number One,” “How Long Have You Been Stoned,” and so forth, the power of observation becomes the articulation of archetype and metaphor. It is as if these songs all echo and underscore Bergquist’s vocal ache that is as timeworn as it is brazenly insistent: “I wanna do better/I wanna try harder/I wanna believe down to the letter....” As the pedal steel whines into the center of the tune’s spine, backed by a lilting piano and a faltering rhythm track, Bergquist’s voice embodies the entire struggle; she’s pointing the mirror into the face of the listener who “needs the grace to find what can’t be found.” That pop music can do such a thing is a wonder. That it can cause such visceral reactions, both attractive and repellent, is remarkable; that a band can focus so single-pointedly is a miracle. Ultimately, OTR’s Ohio is a work of tattered grace, a deeply moving, maddening, and redemptive work of art, and necessary, ambitious pop.

Cincinnati Enquirer article
By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Over the Rhine, the literate pop/folk/rock band led by wife-and-husband duo Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler, is looking homeward.

Ohio, their ambitious new double CD, is due in stores Tuesday on the Virgin/Back Porch label. With influences ranging from the Beatles to soul/gospel great Al Green to folk/country divas Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams, the project takes the pair back to their musical and geographical roots.

The couple still lives in Cincinnati, where the band formed in 1989. Home is a sprawling Victorian house in Norwood they call the Grey Ghost.

We asked them to take us to their favorite places, some of which also turn up in their songs. Here, in no particular order, are some of their favorite things about living in Cincinnati.

Bookstore

Duttenhofer’s Books & News, 214 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights.

“That’s where I found the book with the Rockwell Kent woodcuts we used for the Patience booklet (the insert to OTR’s 1992 major label debut on I.R.S.),” says Detweiler. “I’ve spent way too much money in that place. We’ve run out of bookcases, now we have them stacked in the attic.”

Coffeehouse

Kaldi’s, 1204 Main, Over-the-Rhine. The band spent a lot of time here on band meetings, writing the old OTR newsletter. Detweiler wrote the song “Etcetera Whatever” (on 1996’s Good Dog Bad Dog, reissued in 2000 on Back Porch) at a table there, in the room opposite the bar.

For Bergquist, it was also a paycheck.

“When we saw Kaldi’s coming in and saw that it was going to be this cool coffee shop and a bookstore, I was one of the first people who asked for a job there. Finally they hired me. The first night I was working there, I broke an entire tray of glasses. I thought they were going to fire me, but they didn’t. It was such a good job, I’m still thankful today.”

The neighborhood looms large in OTR’s music. Detweiler’s apartment at 1229 Main St. is where much of Good Dog Bad Dog and Darkest Night of the Year were written and recorded. It’s also mentioned in “Grey Monologue” from Patience: “My third-story bedroom window, overlooking this rain-drenched night.”

Restaurant

York Street Cafe, 738 York St., Newport. “They catered our wedding and we’ve done some shows down there,” says Bergquist. “It’s just a quaint little out-of-the-way place, very unpretentious, but man, the kitchen is just always so good.”

“They have our vote for the best filet mignon in the U.S.A., and we’ve tried a few,” adds Detweiler.

Music street

Short Vine in Corryville. “I remember when Linford was trying to get me to move here,” recalls Bergquist. “He took me up there (to Sudsy Malone’s) and said, ‘This is it. We want to play here.’ And he pointed across the street to Bogart’s and said, ‘This is where we want to play eventually.’ And we did.”

Radio show and host

WNKU-FM’s (89.7) bluegrass program, Music From the Hills of Home, with Katie Laur; 6-9 p.m. Sundays.

“That should have been syndicated years ago,” says Detweiler.

“I love her,” says Bergquist. “I wish I could listen to Katie’s laugh every time I’m depressed and feel bad. She’s so genuine. And some of the treasures they play. And the conversational style between her and Wayne (Clyburn, her co-host).

“In the first years that I moved here and started listening to that show, it used to be on Sunday afternoons and I would get in my car and drive down (U.S.) 52 and I would go as far as I could go until the station cut out, then I’d turn around, come back and listen to the rest of the show.”

Small town

Norwood. “I come from a small town,” says Bergquist, who grew up in Barnesville in eastern Ohio, not far from the coal country where Detweiler was raised. “And it’s funny, because I ran from that, I ran so fast. And I ended up in Norwood and it’s so similar, and I love it.”

Place to walk

French Park in Amberley Village is where they like to walk Willow, Bergquist’s Weimaraner.

Park for hanging out

Eden Park, where the couple was married in the Seasongood Pavilion.

Stained-glass windows

At the former St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral at the corner of Mills and Carter in Norwood. “This has Bavarian stained glass about 100 years old. Incredible,” says Detweiler. On Sept. 6, Bergquist will do a rare solo performance at a singer/songwriter benefit for the building’s revival as a multiuse artists’ space.

Vintage musical instrument store

Mike’s Music/Guitars in Corryville next to Bogart’s. “One of the best guitar stores in the country, easily,” says Detweiler. “We bought a few things from him over the years. And it’s also the kind of store where, if we need to borrow a Hofner bass for a couple of days, it’s a great resource.”

Place to stock up for a cookout

Avril’s on Court Street. “I’m a sucker for their country sausage. They mix it up right there,” says Detweiler.

Sculpture

The Genius of Water/Tyler Davidson Fountain in Fountain Square. The fountain figures in the band’s first album, 1991’s Till We Have Faces in a song approriately titled “The Genius of Water”: “We’ll ride into the square to see the angel, see the angel in the fountain.”

Landmark

The Roebling Suspension Bridge. “That’s a no-brainer; it’s one of the first things you think of when you think of Cincinnati,” says Detweiler.

Neighborhood

Duh.

“Over-the-Rhine. I remember when we were getting ready to move down here, just hearing that name, it seemed like such a groovy, weird-sounding name,” says Detweiler.

He not only found a home for a few years, but a name for the band he was forming with Bergquist, guitarist Ric Hordinski and drummer Brian Kelley. “It seemed to be the one on the list that raised its hand the highest.”

View

Cincinnati at night, seen from I-75 at the Cut-in-the-Hill. “I’ve seen a lot of beautiful skylines,” says Bergquist. “But when you come through the Cut-in-the-Hill at night, when you’re coming home from a tour, there’s nothing like that. It just feels so good. You know you’re home.”

Cincinnatians

“There’s always an argument to move somewhere, but for us, we always come back to the fact that we can’t replace the people that we know,” says Bergquist. “All the places and the things, they’re all cool and they’re a part of our lives. But the people are irreplaceable.”

Cincinnati Enquirer review:3 1/2 stars
By Larry Nager

Ohio is a state of mind for Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler, a place full of heartbreak and loss, of majestic Hammond organs, cheesy electronic keyboards, crying steel guitars and over it all, a singer with the voice of a disheveled angel.

Ohio may not be the best Over the Rhine album (there’s some filler among the 21 songs on two CDs), but it is the most real.

The band’s 10th album shows OTR’s varied roots, with the Beatlesque opener, “B.P.D.”

But even as the tune percolates with pop touches, the lyrics are darker than the music - “You’re makin’ a mess, somethin’ you can’t hide. A slow suicide, just one bite at a time.”

That theme of wounded love is at the bruised heart of most of these songs. “What I’ll Remember Most” again touches on betrayal, “The biggest lies are the little ones. When the look in your eyes is the distant one.”

Then in a rare respite from heartbreak, it’s time to rock, with “Show Me,” a return to the straight-ahead sound of early OTR, complete with Fab Four-style “La-la” backup vocals and namechecks of the Rolling Stones and Elvis.

Gospel singer Dorothy Moore gets mentioned in the woozy country ballad “Jesus in New Orleans,” as Detweiler’s honky tonk piano propels Bergquist’s mix of vodka and religion.

There’s a touch of Lucinda Williams in Bergquist’s delivery, but there’s even more Lucinda in “Anything at All,” another country-flavored song of lost love that Bergquist says was inspired by Cincinnati singer Katie Laur.

The title song is a stark piano-and-vocal ballad. Bergquist accompanies herself, singing about strip mines, farms and more broken dreams.

“Lifelong Fling” is a sensual R&B-tinged ballad in which Bergquist makes the most of the lines, “With roiling joy, lazy as sin, lyin’ up in heaven with my special friend.”

“Changes Come” closes Disc 1 exploring spirituality with no easy answers - “There is all this untouched beauty, the light, the dark, both running through me. Is there still redemption for anyone?”

That theme continues in the opener of the second CD in the chorus of “Long Lost Brother”: “I wanna do better. I wanna try harder. I wanna believe down to the letter.”

Then it’s time for “She,” Bergquist’s most powerful song of heartbreak, about a woman who can’t let go of an abusive lover. “What she ought to do is put a gun to your head for all the things you said and did.

“But what she will not do is let you go before you’re gone. It’s everything that’s ever been wrong, but it’s all she’s ever known.”

This is Bergquist’s best singing on the disc, a starkly powerful performance that mixes anger, pain and resignation. There’s more good stuff on Disc 2, but nothing comes close to this song.

There’s the beatnik hip-hop of “Nobody Number One,” the ‘70s retro touches of “Cruel and Pretty,” in which she slyly makes the most of the line “Meet me in the backstreets of heaven.”

On “When You Say Love” Bergquist channels Chrissie Hynde as Detweiler leads the band, which includes drummer Will Sayles and steel guitarist Tony Paoletta, in some cheesy, new-wave, Blondie-style backup.

“Fool” is a lush ballad of more love gone bad. “Hometown Boy” is a straight-forward love song, about escaping small towns gone to seed with her tender reading of the words “my hometown boy.”

Ohio ends with a hidden track, OTR’s most straightforward religious song to date, the Southern gospel of “Idea #21 (Not Too Late),” inspired in part by a trip to Al Green’s Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis.

It’s a sweetly uplifting end to this masterful collection of heartbreaking songs.

Cincinnati Enquirer concert review
By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

“Thank you for coming out tonight for Ohio,” Over The Rhine’s Karin Bergquist greeted the crowd of around 1,100 Saturday night at Coney Island’s Moonlite Gardens.

For the next three months, the five-piece Cincinnati-based band, led by Bergquist and her husband/keyboardist/collaborator Linford Detweiler, will be bringing Ohio, OTR’s fine new album, to the rest of the country. Saturday, they brought it home.

And they gave their diverse crowd -- several generations of hippies, yuppies and everything in between - a pretty thorough Ohio tour, playing most of the double CD. The songs came alive in the hands of the latest version of OTR, which, almost seven years after the departure of Ric Hordinski, finally has a world-class lead guitarist again.

Paul Moak hasn’t yet found his place in the band, but his remarkable versatility and sense of dynamics lifted OTR to new levels, as he played sitar, vibes, pedal steel and assorted six- and 12-string guitars. Combined with the sturdy rhythm section of bassist Rick Plant and drummer Will Sayles, this is the most rocking version of OTR since the early days, when Detweiler played bass and Brian Kelley handled the drums.

But the gem of OTR remains Bergquist. As the group has had its ups and downs, going through personnel changes, trying on various musical styles and dealing with the vagaries of the music business, she has quietly evolved into a mature, spectacularly nuanced lead singer.

She was a spiritual seeker on “Long Lost Brother”; a sly temptress on “Cruel and Pretty”; an openhearted pop-rocker on “Show Me”; a soul singer on “Nobody No. 1.” And, on “She” her shattering portrait of a woman locked in an obsessive, abusive relationship, she was a masterful interpreter of complex emotions.

And though OTR focused on Ohio, including Bergquist’s solo, voice-and-piano version of the title track, there was also time for a few old favorites, including “All I Need is Everything” and their final encore, “Latter Days.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this group evolves in the course of the tour. They already had the singing and songwriting. Now, in Moak, they have a rock-star-in-the-making. If Detweiler and Bergquist give him the space to take off, this could be the best OTR yet. Saturday, they did Ohio, and their hometown, proud.

But boy, their choice of opening acts needs serious work. Griffin House opened the night at 7:45 with 20 minutes of mediocre signing and sporadically interesting songwriting. His best moment came when he made a cell phone call in the middle of the set. I guess he was bored, too.

Even so, that was the highlight of the openers. The Chicago duo of Josephine Foster and Andy Bar, who call themselves the Children’s Hour and otherwise seemed like perfectly nice people, followed with an excruciating 30 minutes. Combining Foster’s tone-deaf imitation of Natalie Merchant with the couple’s dangerously incompetent guitar playing and derivative songwriting, they managed to alienate even OTR’s famously genteel fans, who loudly chatted and pointedly ignored the “music.”

Cincinnati Post

The new album from Over the Rhine had working titles like “Elvis is King, Jesus is Lord” and the more political “Who Do You Think You Are?”

In the end, the group, comprised of husband-wife team Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler, just called it “Ohio.”

The album, featuring a back-to-basics, stripped-down sound, will be released Tuesday. Over the Rhine then plays Aug. 30 at Moonlite Gardens at Coney Island.

The songwriting team, featuring the heavenly, soaring vocals of Bergquist, say this project is a salute to their Ohio musical roots. Both grew up in southeastern Ohio coal mining towns.

“It’s a Midwestern road trip record. It’s top down, window down, crank it as loud as you can take it,” Bergquist said.

Radio listeners can already do that with the first single “Show Me.” It is as a good a toe-tapping, pop/rock anthem as the two have ever written, and is getting played in the tri-state on WNKU-FM (89.7).

Listening to “Ohio” in the car will take you halfway across the state. It is a double album, a rarity these days, with 21 songs, elegant in their simple craftsmanship and music.

“I think the songs on “Ohio” celebrate the music we grew up with more than our previous records,” Detweiler said. “We grew up with hymns, country and western that was sort of in the water in our small town. And rock ‘n’ roll. It’s American music.”

“It’s what happens when your grandpa makes you sit down and watch ‘Hee Haw’ every week when you are 5,” Bergquist said with a laugh.

Detweiler and Bergquist, two of the most unassuming musical artists you will ever meet, admit to a little embarrassment that they pushed their record company (Back Porch) to release a double album.

“It does feel a little self-indulgent,” Detweiler said. “On the other hand it really flies in the face of the whole sound bite approach to music. If you don’t have time to listen to music then this won’t make sense. If you have time, this is where to go.”

Bergquist jokes the label told them, “We can’t think of a reason why we could not release a double album. Then they went back and tried to think of one.”

The two said they couldn’t think of sitting on half of these songs for another couple years, saying many are inspired almost unconsciously from the troubled times for Americans. There is an urgency to many of the songs and a perhaps a little national soul-searching going on in some of the lyrics. The two said the songs were written as the war of terrorism unfolded the past couple years.

“While recording, it was sort of unnerving and heartbreaking that we weren’t further along,” Detweiler said of the war fever climate.

While there is no overtly political song on the album, there are themes that seem inspired by the times. “How Long have You Been Stoned” is a growling plea for civic involvement. There are lines like “I want to do better, I want to try harder” on “Long Lost Brother.” The opening cut, “B.P.D.,” sets the worried yearning mood with Bergquist pleading “Only God can save us now.”

Known for their personal lyrics, the two think this album represents more of a move to comment on the world around them.

“Instead of being retrospective, it’s how we fit into the big picture,” Bergquist said. “Some of the songs are less about the first person. I think we ask some hard questions.”

But it is when they get personal that OTR is at its best, such as the title cut written by Bergquist about growing up in Barnsville after moving there from Phoenix when she was 7. Her voice has never sounded more inspiring and intimate, even as she sings a heart-wrenching story.

“When you get far enough way from your teenage years, so you can handle the embarrassment of them, you come back and start digging around in the dirt and figure out who you are. That was part of the journey of that song,” she said about “Ohio.”

“I hated it. I just remember these beautiful rolling hills and these big strip-mining machines. The town was so closed-minded it was hard to make friends -- . I ran from it as fast as I could.”

Linford and Karin met at Malone College in Canton, forming a band that moved to Cincinnati in the early ‘90s, taking their name from the neighborhood they settled in. In the band then were guitarist Ric Hordinski, now working with his band Monk, and drummer Brian Kelley.

The group developed an intensely loyal following in Cincinnati with fans captured by the yearning vocals of the classically trained Bergquist and the band’s almost spiritual, meditative lyrics of self exploration.

While the group has had mixed results with major label success, it has received plenty of national exposure and favorable reviews over the years. Its last release in 2001, “Films For Radio,” was one of its most commercially successful. It included a modest hit, the spiritual elixir “Give Me Strength,” featured in the TV show “Third Watch.” And the band has found a three-year home at Back Porch, EMI/Virgin subsidiary, specializing in roots and Americana artists.

While the band has performed throughout the world, this new album musically brings them back home. As Detweiler put it: “You can be in Italy and marvel at how exquisitely beautiful everything is. Then you think, Italy could never have given the world Johnny Cash. To me this record is about the music we grew up with that can only happen in America.”

Over the Rhine, featuring a new five-piece band, plays 8 p.m. Aug. 30 at Moonlite Gardens, Coney Island. Tickets, $12. Ticketmaster.

The band’s latest album, “Ohio” will be in record stores Tuesday. OTR is planning a special vinyl release of “Ohio” available next month. For ordering information, www.overtherhine.com.

The band has scheduled a CD release signing party at 3 p.m. Aug. 23 at Joseph-Beth, Norwood.