Letters

April 21, 1999

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OVER THE RHINE
P.O. Box 12078
Cincinnati, OH 45212

April 21, 1999

Hello,

I’m up here in the attic again in the morning. If you were sitting here, I would hit you with a barrage of possibilities and watch your face.

God bless you what is this? We will be releasing two CD’s at the Bogarts show this April 30 here in Cincinnati. The first is called “Amateur Shortwave Radio”. A music journalist phoned a few weeks back and reminded me that this is the ten year anniversary of Over the Rhine. Sure enough, we recorded the first half of ‘Til We Have Faces in the spring of 1989, so I couldn’t argue. Of course we felt we needed to throw a little party, open a good bottle of wine, do a little dance around the kitchen. This new record draws together under one roof a unique and curious sampling of what you would have heard (and did hear) if you walked into a room during an Over the Rhine performance back in the earliest days of the group through just a few weeks ago at Canal Street Tavern in Dayton. It documents some extremely rare and mildly embarrassing but undeniably exuberant early quartet renditions as well as good clean versions of songs such as Moth, Anyway and I Will Remember, which feature the six-piece version of the band (with Mike Georgin on bass…) There’s a track with the Northern Kentucky Symphony that we re-mixed and mastered which is gloriously schamaltzy and full of chirping crickets and a recent reworking by the original quartet of Over the Rhine’s first ever cover tune. It’s a record full of smiles and tears and you’re probably on it too. And it’s a record that confirms for me that yeah, I would definitely do it all over again.

The second CD we’re releasing is called “I Don’t Think There’s No Need To Bring Nothin’.” It’s the collection of eleven solo piano tunes I referred to earlier, the simplest recordings I’ve ever made. Of course, in both CD’s there are notes which I wrote – as if life were study hall and you were the shy girl three seats up on the left.

At least we haven’t been sitting around doing whatever it is people do who sit around doing nothing.

Incidentally, the Bogarts show will consist of the sassy six-piece. Niki Buehrig, formerly of Plow On Boy will be opening. It’s been over two years since Niki has stepped up to a microphone in public with her acoustic guitar here in Cincinnati. If you’ve heard her, then you already know she’s one of the region’s rare musical treasures. Hope you can join us and look for a few surprises.

This Friday, April 23, we’ll be performing as a trio with Jack at Brady’s CafĂ© in Kent, Ohio. One of the friendliest rooms in the universe… We ain’t rehearsin’, so look out. (Of course, Thursday, we’ll be sneakin’ around the Hartville Flea Market.)

Finally, in response to the E-Mails we received regarding our future with the (changing) music industry, let me say Thank You. I would say about 20% of you said definitely go with the vegetable stand, it’s great. About 20% said go with the big offer, it’s a no-brainer, this is a rare opportunity, don’t trifle with the American Dream. Most of you said listen carefully to your heart. Take risks, venture into the unknown but only if you can keep your spirit intact. Go for the biggest audience possible, but don’t let anybody make you something you’re not. (And yes, it would sure be nice to have easier access to your recordings.)

A coupla comments: the record industry is an overstuffed man in a three-piece suit wobbling around on stilts right now. There’s going to be a lot of change in the next ten years. Our ability to anticipate some of those changes will allow us to keep making records for a living or not. That being said, I do absolutely want to reach the largest, widest audience I can (with spirit intact.) The question is can I ultimately reach more people as an independent, or with a major label? If a musician ever pretends that he or she makes records and gets up on stage with the hope of being ignored, well, it ain’t so.

Also, if I make a record and ANYBODY likes it, I’m grateful. If it so happens that Florida beach girls love “All I Need Is Everything”, that is fantastic. But it gets weird when the people at a big label start second guessing how to get the Florida girls or anybody else on your side before you record note one. If an artist ever thinks his or her work is too good for someone who genuinely appreciates it, that’s a bit sick.

So what’s going on? Our manager is currently negotiating a deal with Capitol for us. When they make us their best offer, we’ll consider it. If it makes more sense for us to keep putting out our own records, there are a number of smaller companies such as Rykodisc that would be interested in distributing those records nationally for us while allowing us to retain 110% control over everything. And along with this distribution we could continue operating the virtual vegetable stand and ultimately own all our recordings.

In the meanwhile, we’re going to be putting out records that we like hand-over-fist. We’re beginning our next full-length recording May 7. Karin and I are going to take a five-week break to tour as members of Cowboy Junkies for their summer tour this July, and then mix the record when we get back in August. I for one can’t wait to hear it. And as for us, come on you Florida girls, come one, come all.

Thanks for listening. Hope you can make the shindig.

Peace,

Linford