Letters

July 30, 2011

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

July 30, 2011

Dear extended musical family,

Hello from Santa Fe – where we just lingered over a gorgeous brunch at Pasqual’s, with dear friends Barry Moser and Emily Crowe. Wrote the letter below a few days ago at the farm, but didn’t get it mailed before we hopped on the plane… xo.

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Woke up this morning on the farm, on the blurry edge of the world, mist rising off the fields, the embryo of a new day breaking open, pink and lavender spreading like a hopeful rumor in the east. A glowing crescent was clinging to the edge of the still-high moon like a spooning lover. A patient hawk sat silent in the dead elm, the goldfinches waking up, the first hummingbirds arriving at Karin’s feeders, thrumming the invisible harp of the world with their wings.

The morning smelled like a freshly opened bottle of wine – leaves, earth, the damp woods, berries, grass.

There is still more than enough beauty in one morning alone on earth to break a heart wide open.

We’ve missed you.

There can be no doubt that it’s summertime, but I am reminded again of something I once read:

For every person who has ever lived there will come, at last, a spring he will never see. Glory then in the springs that are yours…

I suppose that could be changed to, Glory then in the seasons that are yours.

This past week I heard something that was new to me: an adult dove teaching an adolescent dove to sing. Such a willing student trying to find those five notes! Its voice was too high, and it couldn’t do the elongated yodel near the beginning, but the teacher was patient. Over and over it would call, and the younger dove would do its (laughable) imitation (which sounded almost owl-like). And then, finally, it found its lower register, and that yodel happened. It was sort of like the world stopped spinning for a moment when that discovery was made.

The next day they were at it again, but it didn’t take as long for the song to begin to fall into place.

I hope our songs embody moments of discovery like that, rather than just reporting on discoveries already made.

Speaking of birds, last time, I wrote about the two ducks that walked into a bar, arriving at our concert in Dayton, and your letters in response were amazing. We need to figure out how to do a public “mail bag” one of these days, so that we can share some of what finds its way into our mailbox. Thank you to all of you who wrote – so many amazing notes and letters.

If there’s some bit of correspondence you want to pass our way:

otrhine@aol.com

(Please forgive us in advance if we are unable to respond to everything personally, but we make a point to read and receive everything as we’re able.)

Well, it’s the Wild West out there when it comes to the music industry. Feels like everything’s getting shot up, welcome to the gold rush, everyone racing toward the next horizon, unsure what’s ahead, hoping to get there (where?) early, hoping to cash in somehow.

Some days it’s hard to remember that we wanted to do this because we love music.

But I guess I always believed that if we continued to grow as songwriters, if we insisted on trying to make interesting records to the best of our ability at the time, if we remained open and curious in spite of all the mind-numbing marketing, we would somehow not only make a living, but a life, and the way forward would be revealed. So Karin and I do try to lean still into the heart and soul of the matter: the songs themselves.

And I’m happy to report that there are some new songs arriving, whispering to themselves along the wild edges of things. It certainly feels like something is making itself known.

Much more on that soon.

And we continue to dream out loud about if, how and when we might begin sharing Nowhere Farm with our extended musical family. We still find ourselves occasionally wondering as to whether this place could be shared with other writers, other music lovers, a place for the occasional concert in the open air. Maybe we could have the Amish help raise a barn that would be used as a venue, a place where we could host small concerts, and workshops. Or maybe we could offer a writer who was finishing a book a little hermitage on the edge of things. Gather around a fire in the evenings and compare notes, or not. Maybe our paths would cross when I was out walking Porter.

And then we would eventually just leave it all to a foundation of some kind and others could use it after we were long gone. We could plant some trees that would outlive us.

We’re having a lot of conversations. Maybe the way forward will be revealed.

But yeah, regardless, we miss you and wanted to check in.

Here are a few other announcements, and then I really must finish packing for our trip to Santa Fe.

SANTA FE, THIS SATURDAY

This Saturday, July 30, Karin and I will be performing a special show at Sol Santa Fe…

Then beginning Monday, we’ll be leading our weeklong songwriting workshop at St. John’s College along with other writers, painters, poets etc, many of whom we have come to call dear friends. Our eighth consecutive year at The Glen Workshop: amazing.

UPCOMING TOUR DATES

Keep an eye out at overtherhine.com for much more soon regarding our touring plans this late summer and fall. Many exciting firsts, and returning to some favorite haunts as well. We’ll be posting upcoming concerts in the next few weeks.

CONVERSATIONS ON A MUSICAL TRAIN

It’s not too late. There are still seats available. Check out this amazing link and please tell your friends, family, anyone in desperate need of a soul-refreshing change of scenery:

http://www.flyingunderradar.com/rails/FT11NG.htm

Yes, what can we say about our train trip this September 22-29? Meet us in Albuquerque as we travel into the Rockies of Southern Colorado. We’ll be riding legendary, high-altitude narrow-gauge steam trains just as the aspen leaves are turning golden, riding through some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. In the evenings, we gather around for music. In Pagosa Springs, we’ll rest in those hot springs under the stars for a spell…

We’ll be joined by songwriter Mary Gauthier: Find Mary’s song Mercy Now, a song that continues to be timely and prophetic, one of the great songs of our generation, and you’ll discover why Mary is on board. She’s juicy and wise, a fellow student of life.

Folk singer Richard Shindell will be joining us. A few of our friends are crazy about his songs. We’re curious, and look forward to meeting Richard and hearing his music under such unique circumstances.

Photographer Michael Wilson will be joining us again. Michael has been an important musical mentor and longtime friend to Karin and I. If you’ve enjoyed his photographs in our (or many others’) album packages over the years (or found any of his books), you’ll know why he is one of the great, highly sought-after photographers working today. Michael will be making individual portraits of all who ride the train – a memento of an unforgettable week.

Karin’s childhood friend, naturalist Lynn Neal, will be on board, to help illuminate the landscape, answer questions and make us laugh. You’ll see what I mean.

Last year we had people arrive from Sweden, Germany, the UK, Canada, Alaska, and around the USA. Small miracles happened in front of our eyes. Life is short – we hope to see you.

Someone reminded me that I wrote this awhile back:

The life you are meant to find will wring your heart to the point of breaking, and then douse you with buckets of joy when you’re not looking.

Sounds about right I suppose.

Peace like a river, love like an ocean,

Linford (and Karin), Nowhere Farm

PS Other ways of keeping in touch:

Check out Over the Rhine on facebook for (almost) daily updates, and news tidbits.

If you’re hungry for other tiny observations, asides, headlines, non-sequiturs, follow us on twitter:

Over the Rhine: @overtherhine

Karin: @karinbergquist

Linford: @linfordjerome

Orphaned believers, skeptical dreamers, you’re welcome. You can stay right here. You don’t have to go.