Letters

October 25, 2011

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

October 25, 2011

THE LETTER: There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly of the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

– From Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille

Dear extended musical family,

Karin came across the above quote recently while we were privileged to be on the road opening some shows for Lucinda Williams. You know how I tend to ramble on in these letters? I’m tempted to bite my tongue for once and let the above stand. It was so timely and resonated deeply with both of us.

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But I must at least say Thank You to all of you who joined us on our recent travels. We convened in Albuquerque and then rode trains along rivers and through mountains. (You really come along on one of these train tours someday.) We traded songs with Mary Gauthier and Richard Shindell along the way and found ourselves inspired. We offered songs beneath tall trees to a setting sun in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. We found warm audiences waiting for us in SLC and Denver. And finally, thanks again to Lucinda Williams and her band and crew and fans for making us feel so welcome as we brought this most recent tour to a close. It was a true honor to be able to share the stage with one of our longtime songwriting heroes. If you haven’t heard Lucinda’s latest album, Blessed, or heard the band she’s currently touring with – you’re missing something special.

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We arrived home to fall here in Southern Ohio. I won’t deny that it took a full week or more to recover from the road this time around. It seemed both Karin and I had a bad case of the post-production blues. It’s a mystery – you go out and offer whatever it is you have to give with your whole heart, you meet lovely people along the way, you see some unforgettable places, you think, I’m doing what it is I was put on this earth to do. You arrive home feeling like you’ve accomplished something, and the dogs confirm it by throwing a party. You get all the suitcases and guitars back into the house, and drop onto the couch in a state of exhilarated exhaustion. But then sooner or later you find yourself staring with unblinking fish eyes. Everything begins to fade to black and a door swings open and doubts walk in like they own the place.

We’re failures.
This is all a waste of time.
What were we thinking?
Who are we kidding?

I don’t know where the dark clouds in my head come from, but Karin and I have learned not to try to solve the world’s problems when we’ve just returned home. I guess we just need some time for our souls to catch up with our bodies.

So we let the dogs love on us. We take long walks alone. I like to wander down to the creek and look at the familiar trees along the way, watch the sky put on a little show in the evenings. A big stack of mail eventually gets opened. A first load of laundry gets thrown in. Evening meals are prepared together. We discover the right book to read. Or the right film to watch. (Andy Goldsworthy, Rivers and Tides.) Slowly the pieces begin to fit back together again. It’s a beautiful heartbreaking imperfect world. And it’s a gift to be alive in it.

And then, slowly, it’s time to return to the work at hand.

For the time being, what we have to offer you and each other is music. This particular music wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t made it, and if you hadn’t given it a life. These are songs for nights intent on growing longer, songs for warmth against the chill of loneliness, songs for leaning into the closeness of a prized loved one, songs to comfort and help us let go gracefully of what we’ve already lost, songs for keeping the soul tuned to the subtle voice that all too often gets drowned in the din of a rushing world, the voice that whispers, Keep the channel open.

We try to keep the channel open.

And we are hoping to see you and yours and make a little lovely ruckus together. This is a good time of year to gather ourselves together. Share and celebrate a little long surrender and more. Maybe we’ll be surprised…

Peace like a river, love like an ocean,

Linford and Karin

PS If there’s a particular song that you would like to hear, e-mail us your request, and let us know which show you’ll be attending. We’ll try to pull at least a few out of the hat each night… otrhine@aol.com

PPS And oh yeah btw: We do have some brand new songs, the ink still drying. We’ll try a few of these out on you as well, you can be sure.

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Over the Rhine | This Week! | Fall Back Roads Run

(Visit overtherhine.com for links and more info.)

This Thursday, OCT 27 – Club Café, PITTSBURGH, PA. One of the coziest venues we’ll play all year in a neighborhood well worth exploring. Our living room for the evening.

This Friday, OCT 28 – Malone College, CANTON, OH. My birthday, thank you very much, in the Ohio town where I was born, in the Ohio town where I met Karin at a small Quaker liberal arts college, in the town where we performed together for the first time etc etc. Not much significance here. Not much reminiscing during this show. Very few stories to tell on this particular night…

This Saturday, OCT 29 – C2G Music Hall, FORT WAYNE, IN. Ah, Amish country. The Essenhaus nearby, where Karin and I stopped for a night on our little Midwestern honeymoon back in the day. Driving the back roads. (Come to think of it, we just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary on the road in Boulder, Colorado. A bottle of French wine in a little French restaurant called Mateo on Pearl Street. Check it out sometime. A candle on the table in the festooned courtyard.) Also, my brother Jonathan turned 50 and realized he needed to begin painting again. He’s currently pursuing his MFA at St. Francis University in Fort Wayne. Lookin’ forward to seeing bro Jon and the family and some of his recent work.

Saturday, NOV 5 – Bomhard Theater, LOUISVILLE, KY. One of our favorite venues in one of America’s most musical river cities – a lovely theater with a huge collage of lost and found musical instruments as a backdrop. This one is not to be missed. With very special guest, our friend, Lucy Wainwright Roche.

Friday, NOV 11 – REQUIEM PROJECT: Emery Theatre Benefit Concert, CINCINNATI, OH. Join us, and a wide array of colorful characters from Cincinnati’s diverse arts community, for an evening of beautiful mayhem as we re-open the doors of this lovely and storied theater in the neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine. This is the first theater that Karin and I ever headlined with the band. Those memorable, sold out nights had our hearts beating for weeks afterward. We are thrilled that there is a strong vision coming together to save and restore and revive this historic Cincinnati landmark. Don’t miss a wonderful collaborative night for a great cause. http://www.emerytheatre.com/

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WEST COAST! With very special guests, Milk Carton Kids
Tickets on sale now for all shows.

NOV 13 – El Rey, LOS ANGELES, CA (Over the Rhine’s debut at El Rey! Our only SoCal appearance in 2011. Look for some special guest appearances. Please come find us and say hello.)
NOV 15 – Great American Music Hall, SAN FRANCISCO, CA (Beautiful old bordello. Looking forward to returning to San Fran after the amazing HSBF.)
NOV 17 – Aladdin Theater, PORTLAND, OR (Lovely old theater in a lovely city.)
NOV 18 – 20, The Triple Door, SEATTLE, WA (THREE SHOWS) (Our favorite place to end our West Coast tours – becoming a tradition. Fabulous listening room. Fabulous food and wine. Happy to be returning after our debut at Bumbershoot Festival.)

EAST COAST AND MIDWESTERN Christmas Tour – An Over the Rhine tradition. Come in out of the cold and join us this year as we try out some brand new Christmas songs on you, and pull favorites out of our catalog like rabbits out of a black fedora.

DEC 2 – Berklee, BOSTON, MASS
DEC 3 – Le Poisson Rouge, NYC
DEC 4 – The Birchmere, DC
DEC 5 – World Café Live, PHILLY, PA

DEC 7 – The Lincoln Theater, COLUMBUS, OH
DEC 8 – Kent Stage, KENT, OH
DEC 9 – Calvin College, GRAND RAPIDS, MI
DEC 10 – Old Town School of Folk, CHICAGO (Two shows! Early and late.)

DEC 17 – The Taft Theatre, CINCINNATI, OH (Our homecoming show at the newly renovated Taft! Can’t wait to see it.)
DEC 18 – St. E’s, Sunday Soiree with fans, CINCINNATI, OH, 3pm (We lift a glass with friends in a ragged old cathedral and bring our working year to a close with some acoustic music and festive food and drink.)

‘As for your tender heart, this world’s gonna rip it wide open. It ain’t gonna be pretty, but you’re not alone. All my favorite people are broken.’

Please share the above freely. xo.

L&K