Listening Room: Over the Rhine at The Ark

Adrien Carver
4 min readDec 17, 2019
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“Sorry, I have dry fingers,” says the woman at will call as she rifles through a stack of tickets. It’s freezing out tonight, and the wind blows through the open doors. I hope the ticket takers don’t have to sit here much longer. No wonder this woman’s fingers are dry.

I’m seated in the first row of the theater flip-down seats. In front of me is an aisleway beyond which is an open area with cocktail tables. In front of the cocktail tables, the stage.

Over the Rhine are a perfect band. I’d have them rep Americana music if aliens landed. You hear a little of everything in them — alt rock, folk, country and all the legends thereof. Cash, Emmylou, Neil Young, R.E.M., and on.

Tonight they have a more extensive set up than I’ve seen them use in recent years. Slide and a rack of electric guitars are present.

Alison Reed, general manager of The Ark, does their introduction.

They come on without much fanfare, opening with Broken Angels, Born and Let It Fall before Karen addresses the room. She and Linford wear matching fedoras tonight.

“How are you?” she asks us. “Are you good?”

Woo, says everyone.

“Well, we’ll change that. It’s Reality Christmas season again…”

The setlist is mostly Christmas material and picks off their most recent release, titled Love and Revelation, released last March.

Though Karin addresses us first, Linford does most of the night’s talking, first from the piano and then from the mic next to Karin. He tells us story after story, about song origins. He actually seems to remember which stories he’s told us in years prior. Karin makes humorous spousal interjections. If it’s all rehearsed, it’s rehearsed very well.

“You say, ‘Let’s grow old together,’” quips Linford. “That’s all well and good till it starts happening...”

It’s getting harder to forget that Linford and Karin are indeed getting on in years. They’re in their mid-50’s now, and most of their audience matches them. There are a few young people here and there, but I’m one of them and I’m 33.

We sit absolutely silent between songs.

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