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by Mike Breen 12.20.2012
Posted In: Local Music, Music News, Music Commentary at 11:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
 
 
otr

Over the Rhine Band Co-Founder Issues Open Letter to NRA

Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine pleads with gun-rights group to change its ways

In the aftermath of last week's once unfathomable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, discussion about mental health services and gun control — thanks largely to social media — has grown to become the major topic of national discourse.

During campaign cycles, certain music fans complain loudly about artists expressing their opinions about candidates and causes, using the old "shut up and sing" line to insinuate that, as entertainers, one somehow loses the right to speak their mind.

Yet many other serious music fans understand that music and art are a reflection of our society — an artist can offer different perspectives that might help people understand some serious issue better or maybe even help them evolve their own views on particular subjects. I'm not saying we should follow artists blindly like some kind of cult. To quote Oasis, "Please don't put your life in the hands/Of a Rock & Roll band." But I for one am always eager to hear what musicians and other artists and writers I respect have to say about current affairs.

Whether within their own art or speaking out in public, artists have the same right as non-artists to express opinions. It seems that the ones with particularly large followings are the musicians attacked most often for expressing views on politics or other controversial world affairs. They fear the power an artist can have if they express an opinion divergent from their own (in much the way liberals and conservatives fear the power Fox News and MSNBC might wield).


Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist have never been afraid to speak up. The married braintrust behind longtime Cincinnati-based band Over the Rhine — which has a dedicated and loving international fanbase — has seen some backlash from fans for expressing "polarizing" viewpoints. Merely supporting Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry 12 years ago was enough to trigger anger amongst a few fans. The group isn't known for delving into political issues in their lyrics too often, but they have said that the song "How Long Have You Been Stoned" (
"Takin' out Daddy's trash now ain't it a drag/Trippin' on Papa's brand new body bag") from 2003's double-album Ohio was inspired by the Bush administration's rush to war in Iraq.

OTR never seemed to experience "Dixie Chicks-level" backlash (which nearly destroyed three musicians' careers); it's more similar to the recent hatred and disapproval aimed at Cincinnati natives The National, a globally successful Indie Rock band that angered some fans by campaigning for Barack Obama during the past two presidential elections. The worst (hopefully) that will ever happen in a case like that is the band might sell two or three less records and suffer insults on social media. For these artists and most like them, it's well worth the price.

Following the recent shootings in Connecticut, Detweiler took to the internet to post an open letter to the National Rifle Association. Detweiler begins the post by writing, "
I’m a songwriter, and my first calling is to process the world in the context of my songs. But I felt compelled to write the following, because it’s been on my mind. If you find it useful, please share."

What follows is the open letter from Facebook which has been shared almost 400 times and "liked" nearly 1,000 times. The 200-plus comments are actually fairly civil even when there's disagreement (OTR has a smarter-than-your-average-bear following), though they're not without a few angry and rude missives (it IS the internet after all). In the end, Detweiler has added to the dialogue about a topic that for too long has seemingly been "off the table" due to the power of the NRA and some citizens' particular interpretations of the constitution. (The NRA, at least for now, seems to be self-aware enough this time around to not come out with an insensitive statement, instead echoing the President's call for "meaningful" discussion to help avoid future tragedies like the one last Friday.)


As always, Detweiler is eloquent in his words. No matter what side of the issue you come down on, I highly recommend giving it a read. And if you feel the need to weigh in, here is the link to the original post.
AN OPEN LETTER to the four million members of the National Rifle Association:

Dear fellow citizen,


The NRA released a statement yesterday on your behalf expressing that you all are “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” by the news of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Yes, we all are.


For years you have willingly given your money to an organization that has largely ignored pleas from policemen across our country to limit access to assault weapons and armor piercing ammunition.


You have spent countless millions of dollars silencing and vilifying voices that, while supportive of gun ownership, were calling for moderation in the distribution of weapons that could be used for mass destruction of human life, including the gun used by Friday’s killer that shot one first grader 11 times. And 19 other first grade children. And 6 adults in the space of a few minutes…


When previous heartbroken victims of gun violence who lost children or spouses tried to speak out to hopefully help prevent others from suffering similar unspeakable loss, you rallied for your rights, and gave the suffering no quarter.


For years you have marketed the idea to the citizens of this country that the US government is a potential enemy bent on harming its own citizens, and the only way we could all be safe was if we each purchased a private arsenal of weapons.


While you are reportedly “shocked, saddened and heartbroken,” how many of your members after Friday’s shooting have changed their profile pictures to images of guns, or tweeted messages like “I’m buying a gun the day after Christmas. Join me! #NRAlifelongmember” How many of your members boasted last Friday that they were going to take their kids to a firing range?


You continue to lobby in support of all of us carrying concealed weapons into schools, day care centers, movie theaters, and public squares. You argue that if only we could all walk around packing heat, our society could be safer and more peaceful. You lobby for wider “stand your ground” laws, so we can all load up and take the law into our own hands and play judge and jury (and God?) in the heat of the moment.


The members among you who call themselves Christian often bemoan the fact that
“God has been removed from our schools” and yet those very members ignore the direct teachings of Jesus as recorded in Scripture that call upon all followers of Christ to work to break the cycle of violence and not return evil for evil.

Too many of us have stood by silently while you’ve played the part of the playground bully in our public discourse, and distorted our constitution for profit. While we as a nation have improved upon the vision of our “founding fathers” to end slavery in this country, to allow women the right to vote, and to outlaw hate crimes, you cling rigidly to a few words written when the right to bear arms referred to a single shot muzzle loading rifle.


Your voice has been powerful and strident, and too many of us have remained silent in our disbelief of what we were hearing from you. Our silence has been deadly.


If you are indeed “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” consider the part (if you are able and willing to join the rest of us in searching our souls) your organization has played when it comes to last Friday’s shooting. Consider the fear that your organization markets. Consider the bitter fruit of your labors that we must all taste.


And please consider asking forgiveness, changing your ways, and offering whatever healing you are capable of to the hurting in Newtown, Connecticut, as opposed to condoning responding to violence with still ever more violence, ad nauseum.


Unless you can do your part (along with the rest of us), and change in response to Friday’s tragedy, there will be still worse to come.


I live on a small farm in Ohio, own two guns (and my own business) and have family members who are big game hunters. I am rethinking my responsibility as a citizen of this country. We all are. I invite you to do the same.


You’re holding your big press conference tomorrow. We’ll be listening. But I am confident that many millions of us will no longer be silent.


LJD

 
 
by mbreen 11.10.2010
Posted In: Local Music, Reviews at 09:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Walk the Moon Shines on First LP

Walk the Moon was one of my personal highlights from the recent MidPoint Music Festival, where the band played a high-energy set wonderfully showcasing its dance-friendly beats, New Wave jubilance and Art Pop creativity. As solid as the foursome is live, I was still a bit stunned by how advanced, imaginative and proficient Walk the Moon comes across on its enchanting debut album, i want! i want!, which is to be released Saturday in conjunction with a multimedia event at The Mockbee.

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by mbreen 11.22.2010
Posted In: Music News, Local Music, CEAs at 03:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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A Very Foxy 2010 CEAs

Something (or a few things) unanticipated usually happens at the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards show every year. After all, it's a night where hundreds of local musicians are put together in a room with loud music and multiple cash bars.

But the biggest unexpected element of last night’s CEAs at the Madison Theater in Covington was its runtime. Not only a first for the CEAs but perhaps a first in the history of all awards show, the briskly paced show was over early — in about 2 and a half hours, 30 minutes sooner than expected. Efficient stage management and a more streamlined run of show that kept the focus on live performances and the 19 award presentations (winners listed below) helped the event wrap up in record time.

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by mbreen 12.15.2008
Posted In: Local Music at 04:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
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Hank Williams, CityBeat and Music History

The efforts to erect a plaque at the site of the old King Records facility (as well as myriad events related to the past and future of the ground-breaking record label, including this year’s Cincinnati Entertainment Awards) hopefully turned a lot of people on to the fact that Cincinnati’s music history is as rich as any city in the country.

Now, some of the same people who sought to honor King’s legacy are turning their focus on another monumental happening that should further enhance Cincy’s reputation as a blockbuster music town.

This coming Monday marks the 60th anniversary of a profoundly important recording session that took place at 811 Race St. in Downtown. Today, that building is home to CityBeat world headquarters, but 60 years ago, it was Herzog Studios.

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by mbreen 10.28.2008
Posted In: Live Music, CEAs, Local Music at 08:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
 
 
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Local MTV: The Tillers

A couple of weeks ago, I finally got to check out the muched-buzzed about band The Tillers, nominated for a Cincinnati Entertainment Award in the Folk/Americana category. Playing in the Southgate House's "lounge" room, the trio (playing stand-up bass, guitar, banjo and more) huddled around a single, vintage-looking, multi-directional mic and delivered their sweet, accomplished spin on traditional Folk, Country, Gospel and Blues.

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by 10.06.2008
Posted In: Local Music, King Records at 03:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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King Records to Have Its Day

The city of Cincinnati is prepared to formally recognize King Records’ place in the city’s cultural history with a historic marker, a partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a King-oriented class or lecture series, a King Records Center on the campus of Xavier University and a prominent role in this year’s Cincinnati Entertainment Awards for Music (CEAs). City Councilman John Cranley, Bootsy Collins and others announced the plans at a news conference this morning at the former King Records site in Evanston.

[See photos from this morning here.]

Cranley read from a motion he introduced to City Council that asks for up to $10,000 in city funds to install a historic marker on the former King Records office/studio in Evanston to be unveiled on Nov. 23, with the remaining funds used to book a former King recording artist to perform at that night’s CEAs. This year is the 65th anniversary of the founding of King Records in Cincinnati.

The Rock Hall of Fame in Cleveland has agreed to construct, donate and maintain the historic marker, and if Cranley’s funding request is granted the Rock Hall president has agreed to attend the marker unveiling and the CEAs. The institution also will work to develop a class or lecture series on King Records at Cincinnati State.

Other newsworthy items from this morning:

• Xavier officials are looking into developing a King Records Center on campus, a history exhibition that also could be a working recording studio for use by students and the public.

CityBeat Marketing and Promotions Manager Dan McCabe announced that the 12th annual CEAs for music will be the first event held at the reopened Emery Theater in Over-the-Rhine. The CEAs were the final public event at the Emery just before it closed in 1999.

 
 
by mbreen 11.14.2008
Posted In: Local Music, CEAs at 01:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
 
 
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Rip Off, Artists

I hate when hard working people get ripped off. These kind of injustices can range from phishing scams to pickpockets, insurance companies' denying claims by any means necessary to bank CEO’s using bailout cash for beer money. It’s heart breaking to hear the stories of identity theft leaving people broke and in perpetual debt, or stock- and 401K-holders losing their future to corporate malfeasance.

Not that it is by any means “worse,” but I get a special bug up my ass (I’ve named him “Tony”) when I hear about artists and musicians getting ripped off. Having written about music for 18 years and played music for over 20, I’ve seen all kinds of scams designed to make cash off of the creative endeavors of others. From “battle of the bands” contests with exorbitant, unnecessary “entry” fees to club owners deciding at the end of the night that a band’s performance fee suddenly didn’t fit his budget to record labels putting no money into a project only to blame the band for not selling more albums (and coming at them to “recoup” costs), not paying or actually taking money from artists is its own little cottage industry within the music industry.

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by mbreen 07.21.2009
Posted In: Local Music at 01:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)
 
 
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The Tillers Meet Tom Brokaw!

The fantastic Cincinnati Folk trio The Tillers will make its television debut Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the USA network. The acoustic band (Michael Oberst, Sean Gell and Jason Soudrette) were interviewed in June by legendary news anchor Tom Brokaw for a documentary about the people and places along Route 50, the stretch of highway that runs from Maryland to California.

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by Brian Baker 08.10.2011
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video, Music News at 11:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Catching Up With WEBN Album Project Alumni

Younger local musicians and the music fans who love them might find it hard to fathom, but once upon a time, Cincinnati’s corporate Rock radio juggernaut WEBN was one of local music’s biggest allies, a wild, wooly and eclectic FM outlet as open-ended and freeform as any internet radio station or podcast. In the ’70s and ’80s, before inflexible, homogenized playlists made it impossible for even major label Cincy bands like The Afghan Whigs to get spins, the annual WEBN Album Project compilations gave major exposure to local and regional artists. Saturday at the Madison Theater, the WEBN Album Project Reunion Show flashes back to that era. In this week’s CityBeat, Brian Baker caught up with one of Cincinnati’s most popular bands ever (and an early Album Project participant), The Raisins, whose seminal lineup is reuniting for Saturday’s event, joining several other AP alumni. Brian also caught up with some of the other participating musicians to discuss the Album Project’s legacy. Below are their thoughts, as well as some vintage video clips from the era.

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by mbreen 04.15.2011
Posted In: Local Music, Music News at 11:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Composer Therese Edell, 1950-2011

Cincinnati composer and founding member of MUSE Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir Therese Edell passed away last month after an extended battle with MS. She was 61. Considered a pioneer of “Women’s Music,” Edell was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Cincinnati in 1969 to attend CCM. Edell and longtime collaborator Betsy Lippitt toured the country and were favorites at Women’s Music festivals. Her releases include 1970’s Prophecy’s Child and 1978’s milestone From Women’s Faces, as well as the 1990 For Therese, a compilation of her songs performed by various fans/supporters as a 40th birthday present.

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