1. Where’d you get the name?
Over-the-Rhine is the name of a downtown neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the band got its start. The neighborhood was founded roughly 150 years ago by mostly German immigrants. Central Parkway, a street that separates Over-the-Rhine from the rest of downtown Cincinnati, was once upon a time the Erie Canal. Cincinnatians who crossed the Erie Canal to get into the German part of town began referring to the trip as going “Over-the-Rhine.” Linford lived on Main Street (across from Kaldi’s Coffeehouse and Bookstore) in the heart of Over-the-Rhine for almost ten years. Much of the band’s early music was written and recorded in those third story rooms overlooking the activity of Main Street.
Back in 1989 when the band first tried on the name for size, Over-the-Rhine was considered the bad part of town. Many of the buildings were abandoned and it was where a good bit of the city’s drug dealing and prostitution went down. But it was a neighborhood full of striking imagery, and the price was right for young musicians with pockets empty of everything but a few unlikely dreams. The neighborhood has changed immensely (back and forth) in the last decade, and some credit the band for taking away some of the negative connotations of the place and opening peoples’ eyes to the ragged beauty of those angular streets.
2. How long have y’all been around?
Over the Rhine made its first handful of recordings in the Spring of 1989. These initial attempts became the first half of Till We Have Faces. Over the Rhine finished Till We Have Faces during the summer of 1990, and played their first real concert that Fall at Sudsy Malone’s in Cincinnati, Ohio. Originally a quartet, the band has toured and recorded in one form or another ever since.
3. Who is Over the Rhine?
Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist are the songwriting team that perpetuates Over the Rhine. Linford has always viewed his job description as “creating spaces where good things can happen.” He continues, “Karin and I write songs that allow her voice to bloom, and we find musicians who know how to take what we do and make it spark and breathe, twitch and moan. We try to work with musicians who inspire us, people whose company we enjoy. And we try to write music that in little ways helps to heal the wounds that life has dealt us or the wounds we’ve dealt ourselves. We try to write songs that can hum joyfully at the stars when something good goes down. We try to write tunes capable of whispering to a sleeping child that in spite of everything, somehow, all is well. We try to write words that help us learn to tell the truth to ourselves and others. That’s a big part of all this. Music is a wonderful platform for discovering what we believe is true. But Over the Rhine is ultimately the music that Karin and I find within and without for her to sing.”
4. Where is Over the Rhine based?
Cincinnati, Ohio, at present. The band was founded in Cincinnati in the neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine and currently has their offices in Norwood, not too far from The Grey Ghost, the century-old Victorian house that Karin and Linford called home after tying the knot. Linford and Karin recently relocated to a small, hidden farm (lovingly called Nowhere Farm) about an hour’s drive outside the city, but Over the Rhine continues to call the banks of the Ohio River home.
5. Does Over the Rhine tour?
Yes. Check out the itinerary here on the site for a current list of Over the Rhine dates. The touring ensembles tend to vary from record to record.
6. How many Over the Rhine recordings are available?
What’s always been important to us is not how many recordings are available, but rather what is the most recent recording available? Currently, we are fully engaged with Meet Me At The Edge Of The World.
If there are new songs afoot that excite us, it simply means that we’re still here.
The blood in our veins will guide us, a map of the train inside us…
Our hope is that we would take people on a journey, never make the same record twice, open a conversation musically that could continue to grow and thrive for years, for a lifetime.
7. Where in the world can these recordings be found?
All the records are available directly here on the site through our friends and team members at Port Merch. Port Merch provides attentive customer service and timely, trackable shipments of all orders, national and international. You can typically pick up the records at one of the band’s concerts as well. iTunes and just about all digital music providers make many of the recordings available for download. Much of the band’s catalog is available (or can be ordered) in fine record stores as well.
9. Is Over the Rhine on a record label?
In 2007, Karin and Linford started their own record label: Great Speckled Dog. This is the first time the band is pursuing the model of having their own independent label with national and int’l distribution in place.
10. What are the aspirations of Over the Rhine?
“The way we see it, there’s a continuum. On the one side, we can say, Aww, shucks, we’re just a band from Ohio. On the other side, we can swing for the fences and try to make great records, write the music that we need, write songs that deserve to have a good life, write music that is undeniably connected to the story we’re writing with our lives. We can show up and wait for God to walk through the room and settle for nothing less.
And we’re sort of over the Aww, shucks approach. If we don’t believe the music is great and can take its place right alongside the more interesting American music being made by our songwriting peers and heroes, then why should anyone else care? So, crazy as it may sound, we still believe we have something potentially significant to contribute to the American music scene. The songs we write will eventually be what we refer to as our life’s work. And we’re going to work really hard to make sure the songs keep getting better.”