Over the Rhine: Greetings from Nowhere



“Let’s find each other, and gather all of us in a room, the desperate, the hopeful, anyone who longs for their soul to be pieced back together: All are welcome here.”

This invitation, part of a heartfelt public response to a fan’s letter, encapsulates Over the Rhine‘s bittersweet character.  On December 3rd, the Cincinnati natives leave their Nowhere Farm for a show at LPR. The Americana-folk power duo will feature prominent new material from their February release, The Long Surrender.

Whether conjuring up sentiments of an old time cocktail hour or begging you to take that second shot of whiskey, Over the Rhine’s sultry sounds suggest a nostalgic, simple lifestyle at odds with the constant flurry of urban life. With an abiding love of the leading tone, and a healthy helping of deceptive cadence, the group’s tonal affections highlight the sense of yearning and wistfulness that also saturates their lyricism. The husband-and-wife pair are no strangers to their subject matter. Taking “writing what you know” to the furthest extreme, Linford Detweiler and Karin Berquist expose their journey as a couple (as well as musical partnership) to their audience in an intimate, visceral way. 2005 ‘s Drunkards Prayer, for example, is the couple’s personal attempt to rekindle their lost love, one that was forged in the Cincinnati neighborhood from which the band’s name derives (listen to ‘Little Did I Know’ for the whole story.)

Their folky infusion of blues and jazz traces the couple’s own journey from the urban to the rural. Themes of love, desperation, and fighting the good fight pervade the mournful strophes of Over the Rhine’s Cinci-folk songwriting. Although recorded in a metropolitan studio apartment, Over the Rhine’s music has always lent itself aesthetically to wide open spaces, which is paralleled in their broad, largely diatonic harmony. Detweiler penned a poem in 2007 that communicates this pull towards the countryside, and to the group’s inspirational roots.


I have to leave the city now, she said,
Or dash my soul against my will instead.

I do not wish to have the quiet part of me
That once could rest (the part
That could just be) tossed
Aside and left somewhere
For dead.

Tonight it seems to me
That what some friends call energy
Is nothing more than a phenomenon of nature known as
“Incurable Whirling Disease.”

Please, take me far from here, she said,
The buildings sting and echo
With the fumy cries of yellowjacket cars.

I took her hand in mine and said,
I’m thinking of a place now
Where I used to have to tell myself
Those are not clouds,
They’re stars.

Even so, we’re glad to see them back in the city, with what Paste magazine has called, ” a songwriting tour de force, featuring Bergquist’s finest singing to date.” Get a little down-home love this Saturday.

The band will be performing at LPR on Saturday.
posted by Forrest Wu