You might be tired of me bringing this up by now, but I’m from Ohio. Specifically I’m from Cincinnati. Cincinnati is an incredibly German city. In Cincinnati (there’s a point to this story, stay with me) there’s an area called Over the Rhine which was named so by the German immigrants. This area used to be incredibly beautiful. The architecture is fantastic; ornate brick buildings that reflect the diverse styles of the late nineteenth century. There were awesome breweries, a still beautiful music hall, a wonderful market – it is an area that used to be so full of grace that it was compared to Greenwich Village in New York.
I say it used to be beautiful because now much of the area is all but in ruins. It’s a shadow of its former self. There’s violent crime, there are buildings in disrepair, it’s an area that most people avoid, which is such a shame.
This is the place the the band Over the Rhine took their name from.
Like me, the band Over the Rhine is from Cincinnati. In my humble opinion, the name fits them perfectly. Their songs contain the same beauty that used to be present in that now derelict neighborhood, they can hit you with the same dull ache that it is now and makes you feel the same sorrow that you feel thinking about all that beauty and promise that now sits in decay. But they can also write songs so full of hope that echo the unwavering optimism of attempts made to rebuild OTR.
Maybe I’m over-stating things, but I don’t think that I am. I’m just trying to make a point here about Over the Rhine’s music. It’s truly great stuff. I’ve listened to them many a-sleepless nights when I’m homesick for the Queen City. Their music reminds me of home, that’s true, but there’s more to it than that. Their music makes me feel like I’ve been seen, it’s that good and pure. Maybe it makes me think of Cincinnati, but that’s just because I’m from Cincinnati. I imagine that no matter where you’re from, when you hear OTR’s music you get the distinct feeling that they know where you’re coming from, and maybe they do. Hell, maybe you know where they’re coming from, because the tragedy of the neighborhood that is their namesake, and the beauty that it once was is present everywhere. From Nashville to Moscow, Idaho to Luxembourg, every city in the world has its Over the Rhine, and that is why their name is so perfect for their music.
And now, the point of the story: they’re playing a free in-store this Saturday at Grimey’s at 5pm. Don’t miss it. The girl scouts will also be there, selling cookies. It’s sure to be a great show, so do yourselves a favor and don’t miss out on this one.