Letters

September 2, 2008

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

September 2, 2008

Greetings dear listeners,

This first day of September feels like a new beginning. Here we are hunkered down on our little farm in Southern Ohio. What will happen next?

Some of you no doubt heard that we cancelled our recent trip to Colorado because of a health setback. We missed you. But there’s no place as welcome as home when it comes to recovery, and we continue to learn about the importance of rest, and slowing down, and recognizing the need for a break. Maybe we’re still waiting for our souls to completely catch up with our bodies. Sometimes our bodies make the decisions for us.

Yes, The Trumpet Child chapter is winding down. It’s been a full year with thousands of miles covered, hundreds of interviews given, and so many memorable evenings of music with all of you who we continue to think of as our extended musical family. Some highlights that come immediately to mind: our recent appearance at The Newport Folk Festival. (Standing side stage and watching Levon Helm sing and play The Weight is something we’ll never forget.) Playing to amazing outdoor crowds at some beautiful summer sheds this summer was a whole lot of fun for us. (We hope the trend continues!) And we had a fantastic time leading another songwriting workshop this past August in Santa Fe with 16 people who taught us so much. (We listened to songs, but we talked about life.) We could go on.

Yes, now we’re out here under a familiar Ohio sky, a few familiar trees. Many of the hundreds of birds that nest here on the farm are getting ready to fly South. Elroy and I watched in disbelief as a few dozen cedar waxwings flew down on both sides of the path all around us yesterday and began eating ink berries. The male indigo buntings are starting to fade, their blue a little less miraculous everyday. We’re still picking plenty of late-coming ripe tomatoes out of the garden, both yellow and red. (I’m still convinced that cupping a hand beneath a plump, vine-ripened tomato in summer is a par ticular pleasure that the church must have forgotten to forbid.) But the golden rod is yellowing, and will soon announce in earnest that ready or not, fall is coming. You can hear it out here in the night orchestras of insects: Sing like your life depends on it, it won’t last forever.

One significant mile marker which makes our own heads spin is the impending 20th Anniversary of Over the Rhine. We recorded our first demos in the Spring of 1989. Those songs eventually became the record, Till We Have Faces, and now almost 20 years later, it’s just sort of hard to take it all in. There are days when we feel utterly blessed, charmed. That this labor of love could continue for 20 years, that our audience still continues to grow, that this music continues to get spread around hand to hand by people who are often in the process of becoming life long friends – it all smacks of the miraculous.

But then there are days when we feel like we’re auditioning for a starring role in the book of Ecclesiastes. Did any of it matter at all? Did we accomplish anything even remotely unique, or worthwhile, or useful? We know the work did matter to us and to others. We know the music at times played a life-giving role in some of our stories. We know some folks listened to the songs during their last few days on earth. But some days are a drawn veil: we just can’t seem to access the meaning in any of it.

I know it’s a cliche, and this paragraph will be wasted on the young, but now, looking back from this vantage point, 20 years seems like a snap of the fingers, gone. I’m sure this has something to do with the fact that we buried my father this Spring. But there are days now when we pan back on a chapter that’s ending, and the overwhelming feeling is, We had so little time. The years vanished. Take care what you hang a life on.

So we hope to live in the present. There’s a goldfinch sitting on her new nest on the other side of the locust grove even though summertime is running out. There’s a thick, cream-colored mug of fresh coffee on the desk. We’re still here. There’s still time. I’ll bet good money the September moon will rise with her full-lipped face and drench us in her sacred light.

When we least expect it, in our hearts we’ll come to find, a tiny, insubstantial spark of hope.

So what kind of beautiful ruckus will we make in the next 20 years? How will that look? How should we join in, play our small part in the everywhere, always going on song? Good questions. We’ll have to find out. But first we’re going to have a little fun.

Join us if you dare.

***

Over the Rhine in Concert (Please see OvertheRhine.com for details. All concerts below will feature full band performances.)

OCTOBER

October 11, Elk Creek Vineyards, Owenton, KY. Pour me a glass of wine, talk deep into the night, who knows what we’ll find… Join Over the Rhine at a fabulous winery during the prettiest month of the year for an outdoor concert under October skies. It’s a short drive from Cincinnati, and we’d love to make this an annual tradition. Don’t miss this very special evening – a first for us. (Yes, we’ll think of this as the unofficial kick-off of our 20th Anniversary festivities. We’ll lift a glass of something good together.)

NOVEMBER

November 7, Guilford College, Greensboro, NC
November 8, Melting Point, Athens, GA
November 9, Visulite Theatre, Charlotte, NC (We thought we’d check in again on our friends in the Southeast before the year got completely away.)

November 15, Majestic Theatre, Madison, WI (Lookin’ forward to returning to this lovely, historic venue…)

WEST COAST CHRISTMAS TOUR

November 29, The Triple Door, Seattle, WA
November 30, The Triple Door, Seattle, WA
December 1, Aladdin Theatre, Portland, OR
December 2, Ross Ragland Theater, Klamath Falls, OR
December 4, The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA
December 6, The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA (We promised we’d head West and find all y’all this December…)

MIDWEST CHRISTMAS DATES

December 12, Bomhard Theater, Louisville, KY (Friday)
December 13, Double Door, Chicago, IL (Saturday)

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL PIECE OF HEARTACHE: A Special 20th Anniversary Holiday Celebration of the Music of Over the Rhine:

December 19, The Taft Theatre, Cincinnati, OH: An evening with Over the Rhine. featuring music from decade one.

December 20, The Taft Theatre, Cincinnati, OH: An evening with Over the Rhine, featuring music from decade two.

Here’s the skinny folks. The first night, we are going to delve deeply into the early recordings which include Till We Have Faces, Patience, Eve, Good Dog Bad Dog,and our first Christmas record, The Darkest Night of the Year. We will enlist the help of various musicians and guests for this first evening, but are very excited to announce that Ric Hordinski and Brian Kelley will be joining us to revisit many of the early songs which launched our career.

The second night will focus on songs from the last ten years, drawn from the recordings Films For Radio, OHIO, Drunkard’s Prayer, The Trumpet Child, and our most recent Christmas record, Snow Angels. Again, look for various guests and key contributors to Over the Rhine’s recordings as the night unfolds.

Sound like a party? Yes it does. (Discounted tix for those attending both nights are available at OvertheRhine.com.)

And we will bring the year to a close once again at St. Elizabeth’s in Norwood, Ohio, with our Sunday Soiree, on December 21st at 3pm. God willing, we’ll bask in the afterglow of a two night stand, another amazing year, share some wine and refreshments, and conjure up some acoustic music in this ragged, sacred old cathedral. More info and tickets will be made available soon at OvertheRhine.com.

We’ve got some other 20th Celebration plans up our sleeves for 2009, including Cayamo Cruise in February of 2009 with Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, John Hiatt, Buddy Miller and others.

And we’re working on our first round of deluxe Over the Rhine songbooks. Finally.

Well, we hope you can share the above with us. It’s no fun at all without you. Thanks again for being part of this ongoi ng adventure.

All the good stuff your way,

Linford and Karin