by Mike Breen
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
Northside Record Fair debuts and Over the Rhine preps two new LPs for 2013
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 28, 2012
This Saturday brings the first ever Northside Record Fair, featuring used, new and rare recordings in various formats and various other musical merch for sale (flea market-style), to Hoffner Lodge. Plus, Over the Rhine plays annual holiday show at the Taft Theatre and preps two new albums for 2013.
by Mike Breen
Cincinnati musical favorites again reach out to dedicated fans for project funding
Well before social media made it easier to connect directly to fans, veteran Cincinnati music legends Over the Rhine were already whispering in their fans’ ears via regular notes on the band website, written intimately and poetically by OTR’s Linford Detweiler (mostly). The direct, worded contact fit well with Detweiler and wife Karin Bergquist’s mystical, emotionally resonant music, which has earned the group a dedicated fan base that spans the globe.Along with a series of excellent albums and mesmerizing live shows across the country and beyond, the couple’s fan-friendliness and fairly consistent engagement no doubt helped not only build that fan base, but also maintain it. The tight bond between OTR (which has put out albums on its well distributed Great Speckled Dog label since 2007) and its fans was tested in 2010 when Detweiler and Bergquist came to them with a proposition. Before sites like Kickstarter or PledgeMusic became the hugely popular resources for artists to “crowd-fund” projects that they are today, Over the Rhine (as well as a few others) was a step ahead of the trend, allowing fans to pre-order the album and kick in additional funds for bonus perks. The experiment worked incredibly well and the band ended up with a nice budget to record (with Grammy-winning producer Joe Henry, no less) the exquisite full-length, The Long Surrender, one of the group’s best (and best reviewed) albums to date, which ended up on many “Best of 2011” lists late last year. The Long Surrender campaign was so successful — at least partially due to the members’ way of making fans feel like they are a part of the resultant records — OTR has returned to its fans for assistance, this time so they can record and release two new albums by the end of 2013. In a letter on OTR’s website, Detweiler explains the two albums, the material for which has been crafted over the past few years. One of the albums is tentatively titled The Farm and will feature songs written about the couple’s past several years living in an old farmhouse in Highland County, Ohio. The duo even plans on hosting a live performance of the songs on their inspirational property to celebrate the release.The other project is a new holiday album, Blood Oranges in the Snow. The album will be OTR’s third holiday release, following 1996’s The Darkest Night of the Year and 2006’s Snow Angels. Not your typical Christmas-classics toss-off LP, OTR’s holiday releases, as Detweiler writes, “(hopefully) capture some of the reality of a beautiful — but often conflicted and even heartbreaking — time of year.” For more on how to donate, click here. There you’ll also find the different tiers and perks, which include everything from digital bonus tracks, a “thank you” in the album artwork and signed posters to a private house concert, admission to any OTR concert through 2014 and … a tree, to be planted on the twosome’s farm and dedicated to the contributor. Potential donors will have a chance to be swayed by Over the Rhine’s sublime sounds this Saturday, as the group returns to the Taft Theatre to perform many of their holiday tunes (and other songs). This year's event is being billed as “An Acoustic Christmas Concert.” The concert begins at 8 p.m. with opener Lucy Wainwright Roche. Tickets are $37.50 (via ticketmaster.com) or $42.50 at the door. For those hardcore fans who just can’t get enough, OTR presents its annual “Holiday Sunday Soiree,” a casual, intimate gathering at St. Elizabeth’s (1757 Mills Ave, Norwood). Tickets are not issued for Sunday’s 3 p.m. get-together; sign up and pay for admission to the event ($20) here and your name will be added to the guest list.
by Mike Breen
Weekly music, interactive musical fountains and more planned for renovated OTR park
Revitalization group 3CDC's live music programming throughout the past few summers has helped turn Fountain Square into the heart of Cincinnati's increasingly active downtown area, drawing thousands to the Square every week to catch everything from Reggae and Salsa to Hip Hop and Indie Rock. The group will be doing the same thing in Over-the-Rhine at the newly renovated Washington Park across from Music Hall. The Park officially opens tomorrow (July 6) with a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. The christening will be followed by tours of the park, then a free 5 p.m. World Choir Games "friendship concert" at the Bandstand.Like with Fountain Square, Washington Park's weekly music series will showcase local musicians, with live performances on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesday will be "Bandstand Bluegrass" night, featuring some of the best area Bluegrass artists. The shows begin July 11 and will run every week, starting at 7 p.m., until Sept. 5. On Fridays, the Park features "Friday Flow," a night of R&B and Soul that starts July 13 and runs each Friday through Sept. 5.The lineups for Wednesdays and Fridays have yet to be announced, but more details have been made available about the every-Thursday Jazz in the Park series. Beginning July 12, the lineup has been curated by local Jazz pianist Chris Comer, who held a similar role on Fountain Square last year. The first Jazz in the Park concert is July 12 and features Comer and his quintet, plus special guest Napoleon Maddox from the progressive Jazz/Hip Hop group IsWhat?!Jazz in the Park performances run 7-9 p.m. through Aug. 30. Other shows in the series include the P&G Big Band (July 19); The Cincy Brass (Aug. 2); Steve Schmidt (Aug. 9), Ricky Nye Inc. (Aug. 16); and the Dick Sorice-Dan Jackson Quintet (Aug. 23).Along with many other special concerts — like Over the Rhine's (the band) free show July 22 and the rare joint performance featuring Cincinnati Pops, May Festival Chorus, Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet — the Washington Park summer schedule is filled with other types of events, from community festivals to "dog programs" to movie nights and special "Curiosity Saturdays" for kids. One of the coolest physical changes to Washington Park is the interactive Classical Music Walk of Fame, a project in conjunction with the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and InfoTrust which will enable visitors to use their smartphones and tablets to play various musical selections through the park's sound system or through the very cool "musical fountains," which will change appearance/flow/color depending on which music is selected. Here's a quick overview of how the interactive Classical Music Walk of Fame will work. To read about all of the things Washington Park has planned just this summer alone (remember, it will be a primary venue for the MidPoint Music Festival at the end of September) click here.
by Mike Breen
Renovated park gears up for early July grand opening events
Veteran, internationally-acclaimed Cincinnati band Over the Rhine will be performing a free concert on July 22 in Over-the-Rhine (the neighborhood). The group is kicking off a series of "grand opening celebration" concerts this summer at the newly renovated Washington Park, which took 18 months and $48 million to complete. All events are free and open to the public.The first big event is Over the Rhine's July 22 concert at Washington Park's permanent stage on the new "Civic Lawn." An opening act will soon be announced.On Aug. 3, the Park will host a rare "joint performance" by the Cincinnati Pops, May Festival, Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet. The full Pops Orchestra will perform a program of Classical, Broadway and Pop tunes, joined by the May Fest Chorus, singers from the Opera and dancers from the Ballet. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. On Aug. 4, the Over-the-Rhine Community Festival returns to Washington Park. The 28-year-old fest was on hold last year while the park was under construction. The event will feature games, food, kids' events, DJs and live music (TBA). The fest runs 12-6 p.m.Washington Park officially re-opens on July 6 at 10 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. There will be a free "Friendship Concert" in the park later that day (5-7 p.m.), presented by the World Choir Games.Like on Fountain Square, 3CDC is bringing a full slate of weekly musical events (as well as Saturday night movies and family-oriented fare on the weekends) to Washington Park. Full details will come with the launch of the new Washington Park website in early July. Plans so far are to have Bluegrass on Wednesdays, Jazz on Thursdays and R&B and Soul on Fridays. Check out the park on Facebook here for the latest updates.
by Mike Breen
Cool 'One Shot Music Video' project continues with Cincy duo Over the Rhine
We've written a bit in the past about the new film-meets-music "One Shot Music Video" series, beautifully shot, black-and-white short films of various local musical acts shot at the historic Emery Theatre (which is back in action as a functional venue this weekend). Shot by world renowned photographer Michael Wilson with audio help from the musical duo Pop Empire, the clips are filmed in one continuous take (thus the name). The project has started to take shape and is on a roll now. Pop Empire's Cameron Cochran reports that the series is now named for the venue — "The Emery Sessions" — and will be comprised of footage from 10 artists, all shot at the theater. It's a great way to not only spotlight local music, but also show off the theater in a great light.Wilson and Pop Empire have completed a couple of videos for Daniel Martin Moore for the first of the series. The second in the series is Over the Rhine (longtime compadres of Wilson's, who has shot OTR album covers and promo shots — including the one above — since the band's very beginning). OTR is familiar with the surroundings; the band played the "preview party" hosted by The Requiem Project which re-introduced the 100-year-old theater to locals late last year.Here's a clip of Over the Rhine's Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist performing "The Laugh of Recognition" from the twosome's latest album, The Long Surrender. (Click over to local blog Each Note Secure to check out another clip from the project.)Cochran also runs the all-free, all-digital "record label" The Recording Label, which has issued stellar recordings by The Kickaways, Vacation, Sacred Spirits and Pop Empire. He says working on "The Emery Sessions" inspired him to give the label a more local-specific name. The Recording Label is now called Cincinnati Recording Service. Click here for the new site.And here are a few words from Cochran on the Sessions and the label:If we are consuming light then sound is accompanied by sight. Many musical performers understand this concept and will incorporate a visual component to their audio performance. The idea behind the "One Shot Music Video" is to approach music from the opposite direction. The audience approaches the music from a visual perspective first because whether they know it or not the first performance they see is the photographer's. It is the photographer's eye that navigates them through the musical performance. The hidden live performance is the one done with the camera.The Emery Theatre was the perfect place to begin our exploration of this relationship between listening and watching live musical performances. Each musician we have recorded and that we are going to record have a love for this amazing space and understands what the Emery Theatre means to our great city of Cincinnati. It is perhaps our own experiences working in this theatre and the pride that has developed for our hometown of Cincinnati that inspired us to change the name of The Recording Label to Cincinnati Recording Service. This name change is also a tip of the hat to another person who loved his city as well as the power that American music has to bring people together, Memphis' very own Sam Philips.
by Mike Breen
Veteran Canadian band headlines 20th Century Theatre
Canadian Alternative band Cowboy Junkies perform tonight at the 20th Century Theatre in Oakley. Formed in the mid-’80s, the group has been consistently critically acclaimed and have had a few moments of mainstream breakthrough, including its cover of The Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane," a minor MTV hit in the late ’80s that was revived as part of the soundtrack to Natural Born Killers in 1994. The track was included on the 2008 compilation of Canada's finest, Rhino Records' Northern Songs: Canada's Best and Brightest (the album put the Junkies alongside Great White North greats like The Band, k.d. lang, Leonard Cohen and Broken Social Scene). The past couple of years the Junkies have been issuing a string of releases under the "Nomad Series" banner, a nod to the group's freedom from a record label contract for the first time since their formative years in the mid-’80s, which has given them free reign on what they release, create and record. The group has used the series to get closer to its already close fans, keeping those interested posted on the progress of each project via their website. Now that all four volumes of the Nomad Series have been issued, the collection is available as a box set with lots of bonus features and a 52-page book. Tickets for tonight's 8 p.m. show are $20-$30. Here's "Sweet Jane" and a track from Vol. 2 of the Nomad Series, which features all songs written by late singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt, "We Hovered With Short Wings."Our Steven Rosen spoke to the Junkies' Michael Timmins about the Junkies' connection to Cincinnati's like-minded Over the Rhine band. Read it here.
by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: Not-for-profit
at 11:56 AM | Permalink
New Central Parkway location will include new equipment and software
Inhabitants at the 1100 block of Race Street will lose a neighbor beginning March 1, when Media Bridges
moves a few blocks away to a new location inside the Crosley
Telecommunications Center in Over-the-Rhine at 1223 Central Pkwy. The
move, although minor, means some improvements are in store for the
Media Bridges provides diverse communities in Cincinnati with the
opportunity to work with and produce forms of media. Although they've
called their 1100 Race St. location home since 2002, the move means a
larger production studio and purchase newer equipment and more
up-to-date video editing software. The Crosley Telecommunications Center
also houses CET and Cincinnati Public Radio. Because the facilities are
shared, Media Bridges hopes to collaborate with the outlets and explore
joint services, said CET Executive Vice President and Station Manager Jack Dominic in a news release.
The decision to stay in OTR was an obvious choice, according to Tom
Bishop, Media Bridges' Executive Director. "This is our neighborhood. We
love this place," he says. The change comes thanks to a dent in
funding; the City of Cincinnati cut Media Bridges' funding by one-third
in 2007, and a downsize has been brewing in their plans since then.
Although the new facility will have a larger production facility, office
space will be compressed to accommodate staff cuts. The new equipment
and software will be purchased using reserved funds, but Bishop says
it's worth the investment; "Some of our equipment was from 1989. You're
driving dinosaurs if you're not updating your software and equipment
every few years [in the media industry]."
The new equipment will make way for some promising advances in the
future, according to Bishop. Plans to teach courses on Wordpress web
design, computer classes for A + certification and a certification
program for Adobe Production Premiere are in the works.
Media Bridges will begin its transition on March 1 while it continues to
provide full services at its Race Street location. Its last day of
operation will be on April 20, followed by an 11-day hiatus to complete
the move to the new Central Parkway location, which is expected to open
to the community on May 3.
by Mike Breen
Posted In: Local Music
at 03:47 PM | Permalink
Exclusive live concert special to air this Sunday
Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist of long-running, internationally acclaimed group Over the Rhine know a thing or two about love. Not only do they churn out lovely love songs on a regular basis, but they've also been a married couple for much of the time they've been performing together. The couple celebrated its 15th wedding anniversary recently and they've been together in Over the Rhine since 1989. This Sunday, you can hear what a beautiful relationship sounds like (not that they haven't hit bumps in the road) when WVXU (91.7 FM) and Oxford's WMUB (88.5 FM) broadcasts an exclusive concert special at 8 p.m.
Collaborating couples key to Cincinnati Ballet’s newest production
0 Comments · Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Cross-pollinating arts audiences is paramount in today's economically uncertain times. Case in point: Cincinnati Ballet and storied Cincinnati band Over the Rhine (both beloved cultural icons locally and beyond) will share the stage this weekend at the Aronoff Center for three performances designed to draw fans of each.