Letters

December 2, 1999

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

December 2, 1999

PRESS RELEASE: HOLIDAY CONCERT IMMINENT, OFFER OF NATIONAL RECORD DEAL ACCEPTED

It has taken three years of hard work as an independent act, four independent records, an international tour with Cowboy Junkies and a lot of “Thanks, but no thanks” bargaining along the way, but once again, Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler of Over The Rhine have come to terms with a major label, and will be signing a national record deal. Virgin Records, home of Peter Gabriel, Lenny Kravitz, The Rolling Stones and the Spice Girls among others, are bringing Over the Rhine into their fold of acts, and will begin releasing the band’s material in the year 2000.

Virgin is in the process of starting a new “imprint”, a smaller division under the umbrella of the larger company called “Backporch”. David Lowrey of “Cracker” and “Over the Rhine” are the new division’s first signings. So what did it take to convince Over the Rhine’s songwriting team – a partnership that was very prepared to enter the new millenium with a simmering underground operation that seems to steadily expand the group’s following – to sign on?

Virgin began by dispatching John Wooler to Cincinnati, the A&R man who has in recent years nurtured artists such as Van Morrison, John Lee Hooker and Pops Staples.

“These were all artists with strong unapolegetic visions who didn’t necessarily fit the mainstream MTV mold,” explains Karin Bergquist. “We’re huge fans of just about everyone John has worked with and it took the pressure off to hear someone say it’s not always about a smash pop single, it’s also about being true to a vision come what may.”

Virgin eventually offered Over the Rhine a deal that the band describes as “exceptionally artist friendly”: total artistic freedom, tour support, recording budgets, advances and, oddly enough, thousands of actual copies of each of the band’s own future Virgin releases that Over the Rhine is free to sell through their existing virtual vegetable stand and on tour.

Virgin agreed to pick up the story where the band’s former label, IRS Records, left off, and will release Good Dog Bad Dog nationally on January 26, 2000. Over the Rhine will follow it later in the year with a collection of new material, much of which is already recorded. Virgin also agreed to put the the three IRS Releases, Till We Have Faces, Patience and Eve back into circulation, and to substantially increase the royalty rate payable to the band that IRS had initially negotiated. Over the Rhine tracks will be included on at least two compilations in the year 2000 featuring more established artists such as Peter Gabriel.

“They’ve tried very hard to structure a deal that doesn’t interrupt what we have already established,” says Detweiler. “We’re going to roll the dice and see what happens. It’s been fun to see this come together. It feels pretty good.”

But before Over the Rhine dives headlong into the unknown new year, it’s time for a celebration of the journey thus far: the many miles covered, the encouragement of the many who have made friends with these simple songs, the joy and heartbreak that comes from sinking your teeth into any dream. Over the Rhine promises a hometown concert at the Taft Theater in Cincinnati on December 11, 1999 that wings its way full circle through seven records and ten years of loss and redemption. The band will include their own singular haunting renditions of traditional seasonal material. The band will play as if it’s their last night on earth. (Again.)

Last year Over the Rhine cancelled their December tour to record demos. This year, the band will play four concerts as a seven piece:
Karin Bergquist: Vocals and Acoustic Guitar (Norwood, Ohio)
Linford Detweiler: Piano and Hammond Organ (Norwood, Ohio)
David LaBruyere: Bass (Atlanta, Georgia)
Jack Henderson: Electric Guitar (London, England)
Jeff Bird: Harmonica, Mandolin, Melodica, et cetera (Guelph, Ontario)
Terri Templeton: Backing vocals and Violin (Northside, Ohio)
Don Heffington: Drum Kit (Los Angeles, California)

Jeff Bird is the multi-instrumentalist with the Cowboy Junkies. Don Heffington has played with Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris and Victoria Williams.

Leo Kottke, acoustic guitar instrumentalist extraordinaire, met Karin and Linford this summer touring with the Cowboy Junkies. Linford describes him as an important writer trapped in a guitar vitruoso’s body. Leo’s weathered wit and rootsy mind-bending instrumentals are a perfect start to this long-awaited evening, that many consider a Cincinnati tradition. Come celebrate ten years with Over the Rhine.