Sunday, August 17, 2003

Over the Rhine under the influence of Cincinnati

As their CD 'Ohio' hits stores this week, they talk about what they like about where they live

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine.
(Gary Landers photos)
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Over the Rhine, the literate pop/folk/rock band led by wife-and-husband duo Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler, is looking homeward.

Ohio, their ambitious new double CD, is due in stores Tuesday on the Virgin/Back Porch label. With influences ranging from the Beatles to soul/gospel great Al Green to folk/country divas Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams, the project takes the pair back to their musical and geographical roots.

The couple still lives in Cincinnati, where the band formed in 1989. Home is a sprawling Victorian house in Norwood they call the Grey Ghost.

We asked them to take us to their favorite places, some of which also turn up in their songs. Here, in no particular order, are some of their favorite things about living in Cincinnati.


Go to Click on the MP3 link next to the song titles to hear "Show Me," "Suitcase" and "Nobody Number One." You can also buy the CD there.
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Larry Nager's review of Ohio
Duttenhofer's Books & News, 214 W. McMillan St., Clifton Heights.

"That's where I found the book with the Rockwell Kent woodcuts we used for the Patience booklet (the insert to OTR's 1992 major label debut on I.R.S.)," says Detweiler. "I've spent way too much money in that place. We've run out of bookcases, now we have them stacked in the attic."


Kaldi's, 1204 Main, Over-the-Rhine. The band spent a lot of time here on band meetings, writing the old OTR newsletter. Detweiler wrote the song "Etcetera Whatever" (on 1996's Good Dog Bad Dog, reissued in 2000 on Back Porch) at a table there, in the room opposite the bar.

For Bergquist, it was also a paycheck.

[IMAGE] Kaldi's coffeehouse is a favorite hangout for Detweiler and Bergquist.
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"When we saw Kaldi's coming in and saw that it was going to be this cool coffee shop and a bookstore, I was one of the first people who asked for a job there. Finally they hired me. The first night I was working there, I broke an entire tray of glasses. I thought they were going to fire me, but they didn't. It was such a good job, I'm still thankful today."

The neighborhood looms large in OTR's music. Detweiler's apartment at 1229 Main St. is where much of Good Dog Bad Dog and Darkest Night of the Year were written and recorded. It's also mentioned in "Grey Monologue" from Patience: "My third-story bedroom window, overlooking this rain-drenched night."


York Street Cafe, 738 York St., Newport. "They catered our wedding and we've done some shows down there," says Bergquist. "It's just a quaint little out-of-the-way place, very unpretentious, but man, the kitchen is just always so good."

"They have our vote for the best filet mignon in the U.S.A., and we've tried a few," adds Detweiler.

Music street

Short Vine in Corryville. "I remember when Linford was trying to get me to move here," recalls Bergquist. "He took me up there (to Sudsy Malone's) and said, 'This is it. We want to play here.' And he pointed across the street to Bogart's and said, 'This is where we want to play eventually.' And we did."

Radio show and host

WNKU-FM's (89.7) bluegrass program, Music From the Hills of Home, with Katie Laur; 6-9 p.m. Sundays.

"That should have been syndicated years ago," says Detweiler.

Who: Over the Rhine

When: 8 p.m. Aug. 30

Where: Moonlite Gardens, Coney Island

Tickets: $12 at Ticketmaster outlets, (513) 562-4949 and

Over the Rhine albums

Ohio (2003; Virgin/Back Porch)

The Cutting Room Floor (2002 OTR online-only release)

Films For Radio (2001; Virgin/Back Porch).

Good Dog Bad Dog (2000; Back Porch Records re-release).

Amateur Shortwave Radio (1999)

Besides (1997)

The Darkest Night Of The Year (1996; OTR's Christmas album)

Good Dog Bad Dog (1996; the original indie version)

Out of print

The first three OTR discs are out of print, but available in limited supply online:

Eve (1994)

Patience (1992)

Till We Have Faces (1991)

Linford Detweiler solo albums:

Grey Ghost Stories (2001)

I Don't Think There's No Need To Bring Nothin' (1999)

Where to buy

All OTR albums and other products are available online.

"I love her," says Bergquist. "I wish I could listen to Katie's laugh every time I'm depressed and feel bad. She's so genuine. And some of the treasures they play. And the conversational style between her and Wayne (Clyburn, her co-host).

"In the first years that I moved here and started listening to that show, it used to be on Sunday afternoons and I would get in my car and drive down (U.S.) 52 and I would go as far as I could go until the station cut out, then I'd turn around, come back and listen to the rest of the show."

Small town

Norwood. "I come from a small town," says Bergquist, who grew up in Barnesville in eastern Ohio, not far from the coal country where Detweiler was raised. "And it's funny, because I ran from that, I ran so fast. And I ended up in Norwood and it's so similar, and I love it."

Place to walk

French Park in Amberley Village is where they like to walk Willow, Bergquist's Weimaraner.

Park for hanging out

Eden Park, where the couple was married in the Seasongood Pavilion.

Stained-glass windows

At the former St. Elizabeth's Cathedral at the corner of Mills and Carter in Norwood. "This has Bavarian stained glass about 100 years old. Incredible," says Detweiler. On Sept. 6, Bergquist will do a rare solo performance at a singer/songwriter benefit for the building's revival as a multiuse artists' space.

Vintage musical instrument store

Mike's Music/Guitars in Corryville next to Bogart's. "One of the best guitar stores in the country, easily," says Detweiler. "We bought a few things from him over the years. And it's also the kind of store where, if we need to borrow a Hofner bass for a couple of days, it's a great resource."

Place to stock up for a cookout

Avril's on Court Street. "I'm a sucker for their country sausage. They mix it up right there," says Detweiler.


The Genius of Water/Tyler Davidson Fountain in Fountain Square. The fountain figures in the band's first album, 1991's Till We Have Faces in a song approriately titled "The Genius of Water": "We'll ride into the square to see the angel, see the angel in the fountain."


The Roebling Suspension Bridge. "That's a no-brainer; it's one of the first things you think of when you think of Cincinnati," says Detweiler.



"Over-the-Rhine. I remember when we were getting ready to move down here, just hearing that name, it seemed like such a groovy, weird-sounding name," says Detweiler.

He not only found a home for a few years, but a name for the band he was forming with Bergquist, guitarist Ric Hordinski and drummer Brian Kelley. "It seemed to be the one on the list that raised its hand the highest."


Cincinnati at night, seen from I-75 at the Cut-in-the-Hill. "I've seen a lot of beautiful skylines," says Bergquist. "But when you come through the Cut-in-the-Hill at night, when you're coming home from a tour, there's nothing like that. It just feels so good. You know you're home."


"There's always an argument to move somewhere, but for us, we always come back to the fact that we can't replace the people that we know," says Bergquist. "All the places and the things, they're all cool and they're a part of our lives. But the people are irreplaceable."


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