September 1, 1999

P.O. Box 12078
Cincinnati, OH 45212

September 1, 1999

Hello again,

How have you been?

This is Linford writing from Toronto, Ontario on a fabulously brisk morning, bright and airy, Northern and keen. I’ll be meeting Karin at 7pm tonight at one of our favorite little French restaurants in all the world, Le Select Bistro on Queen Street. We’ve grown fond of this city.

(Karin and I performed at the Ottawa Folk Festival Saturday night with Cowboy Junkies and incidentally Ottawa is an unusually stunning city in its own right-the wise, old and towering dark stone parliament buildings, the baritone clanging bell towers and winding footpaths high above the river.)

We’ve actually been doing a little recording with Cowboy Junkies and let me tell you hearing Margo’s voice coming straight through the headphones can make your heart stop beating to listen.

But yes, here in Toronto we poke around in bookstores and record stores and fall asleep listening to Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 or Nick Lowe’s “Dig My Mood” or Tom Waits: “The Mule Variations.” We puzzle over the new Sparklehorse CD in headphones and try to figure out Nick Drake and close our eyes reminiscing to Ron Sexsmith’s finely crafted simplicity on “Whereabouts.”

Jane Siberry performed right before us at the Ottawa Folk Festival and she is one of the avid spiritual seekers of our generation, exploring tirelessly the ways and means of keeping her soul free and vibrant and quivering. She seems to long to live vividly from the deep center and music and words careen out of her like the dreamed prayers of the newborn.

A few weeks ago when Jack and I were in Nashville recording, we spent part of a Sunday afternoon with the New York Times in a Coffeehouse named Fido near the neighborhood of Green Hills. We were marveling to learn that Tom Waits would be performing at The Beacon Theater in New York City on a Saturday following an Over the Rhine show at Gordon College just north of Boston in late September. Well we stumbled out of bed early the next morning and the moment tickets went on sale we sprang into action like stock market tycoons on a Black Monday speed-dialing two hotel phones with trembling fingers and saying the rosary and after about fifteen minutes Jack had four fifth row orchestra tickets on his English credit card and a stupid grin on his sleepy face. (Who cares that with a few service charges tacked on and what not they cost $94 apiece…)

This is the sort of tomfoolery that made me want to stand on an upside down wooden box in the first place, playing a gypsy fiddle for anyone who cared to listen until the horse hairs clung ragged to the bow for dear life: some music feels like a long lost lover who slipped out of our arms through a secret doorway to walk and talk with God, and it’s worth just about anything to see them again even if it means borrowing money from a loan shark and driving through the night until the stars blur.

It’s September folks and we’re entering hands down into the best part of the year here in Ohio. We’re counting the days on our fingers till the Coney Island Moonlight Gardens get together. And what can you expect?

I hear Karin and Terri singing and dreamy. I hear the waves of Jack’s guitar washing the Ohio River ashore and the sound of the piano. I hear Jeff Bird of the Cowboy Junkies who will be sitting in with us coaxing sweet sadness out of his harmonica and mandolin, and David’s bass playing with all the room in the underworld. I hear the ultraviolet ukulele under Uma’s underbelly. (Actually I made this last part up.)

I don’t know but can you see back-lit clouds and girls swaying under the bright thumbprint of the moon in this old favorite outdoor venue where the young used to arrive by riverboat and dance to swing bands and hold hands beneath the same sky, each starring in their own Midwestern, being filmed in black and white through the infinite camera of the mind’s eye?

We’re counting this one down. Ten days numbered on two open hands. Our ten year anniversary. And I sure hope that the piece missing from this coming night so perfectly puzzling isn’t you. More later, but she’ll undoubtedly be whispering to her sidekick, “Look who’s here.” And I’ll have my head bowed and my eyes closed hoping.

Down by the river we’ll dream awhile.

P.S. My favorite bird has always been the Redwing Blackbird but Karin and I were reading about Indigo Buntings a few days back and we learned this and I quote: Females are never blue.

Over the Rhine
Coney Island Moonlight Gardens
Cincinnati, Ohio
Saturday, September 11, 1999
Special Guest: Niki Buehrig (formerly of Plow On Boy)
Doors Open: 7pm
Showtime: 8pm (OTR on stage at 9-ish)
Tickets available through all Ticketmaster outlets ($10) and at the door.
All ages welcome. Bring compatriots, cameras, notebooks and rested lungs. Circulate this letter to the old and weathered, to the young misfits as you see fit. It’s enough for now.