writing to know, knowing thru being, being for writing... this is me, writing about the one thing i know, which is myself... and even that is sometimes a mystery...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

over-the-rhine and the navigators concert review!

picture from ky theatre's troubador concert series

ok, i have a treat for you guys today: a review of the totally awesome concert i had the unique pleasure of seeing monday night, over-the-rhine (otr) and the navigators at the kentucky theatre.
now, some of you may be familir with otr (or not, hey, it's all cool). but i bet very few of you have actually heard of the navigators before. well, both are great bands. otr hails from cincinatti, ohio and get their name from the district of the same name (where i also happened to volunteer this past november during election week, see my post from that experience). otr, the district, was named by the german immigrant community that settled in the area, and has historically been predominantly inhabited by ethnic minorities and members of the impoverished and exploited working class. yet, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the prevailing poverty in otr, the community has established a surprising devotion to the arts and media-related programs. the community center at which i was stationed as a volunteer in november opens its doors to all members of the community. it's very open and caring, nurturing to the needs and creative strivings of its members, providing shelter from the dangerous, grime-y present day world, allowing strangers to come inside and become quick, close friends.
so, it comes as no surprise that the band otr would reflect this same philosophy in their music. as a conceit for their musical craft, their name speaks volumes. otr manages to construct a home for your heartbreak, a niche for the aching you experience in life, a place for it to grow and bloom, and satisfy your need for some musical comfort. otr's new record, drunkard's prayer, comes forth from a furnace of struggle, wrought with tinges of loss and remorse, pending the difficulties of otr's relationship while on tour. as singer karen expounded during the concert, the process of making this record reflected the process of working through her marriage with fellow band-member, pianist/guitarist linford. it took a lot of devotion, hard work, and apparently, "two cases of wine... one for me, one for him."
and the struggle and effort shines through. while other neo-folk/grassroots/americana rock acts (such as my love, sufjan stevens and indie darlings, okkervil river) produce music suited for broken hearts to mellow and brood to, otr excels in its formation of musical sunbeams and raindrops. though otr's wailing and gentle phrasing echo the craftings of the likes of sufjan, the feeling otr imparts is one more conducive to long cups of tea, an accompaniment to serious bouts house-lounging. it's the score to that week before a break-up, when you sense the inevitable happening, when you dread the future, and are searching for the fight within to stop it. this is a record that cries with you, that wails alongside your troubled heart.
it deals with the unique situation of working through a relationship, the highs, the lows, the soaring and falling in between, the gradual repairing, and perhaps, the steady realization of a loss, and the coming to terms with the inevitable pain and remorse you are left with.
like the moody situations they represent and reflect, otr's music travels the dippings and joltings of love and loss, but with a trace of hope. while other bands may leave you in stagnation, sinking deeper into a forlorn funk of your reliving past, otr lifts your spirits, offers you a glass of wine, and the resolve to peel yourself off the floor and fling yourself back into life.
(check out the woodsongs archive of past shows and to listen to some audio files of performances. hey, you can even watch the broadcasts!)


  • At 3:44 PM, July 28, 2005, Blogger The ZenFo Pro said…

    You know, I have some older OTR on IRS comps. I am embarrassed to say it, but I didn't know they were still around. I actually ripped the comp tracks (Jacksie and I'm Happy with Myself?") to mp3 format last night because of your post.


  • At 4:03 PM, July 28, 2005, Blogger Ogbuefi Stephi said…

    i'm sorry, but i don't know what you mean by "irs comps." elaborate please for the ignorant? ;)
    and thanks. i'm glad someone had some sort of a rxn to my post. i wasn't sure if i was too dramatic, but yeah, otr is great.
    i actually thought the singer, karen, was a bit cocky, like she knew she was talented and had a great voice. i thought that was a real turn-off, but, well, her arrogance is deserved. she sounds great. i just wish she didn't know it and show it.
    but maybe that's just me being silly...

  • At 7:52 PM, July 28, 2005, Blogger The ZenFo Pro said…

    Oh, no problem...IRS refers to a defunct record label from the 80s and 90s. "Comps" refers to a compilation.

    Sorry about that :)

  • At 4:33 PM, July 30, 2005, Blogger Kara said…

    ogbuefi stephi~

    LOL....Seriously, just wrote a much less descriptive blurb about them on my blog. Random! I am so glad that Over The Rhine is gettin some lovin! I really hope to see them in person soon.

    BTW you are very talented; it makes sense that MU feels stifling.

    Keep up the great work!


  • At 11:51 AM, August 02, 2005, Blogger Ogbuefi Stephi said…

    thanks, kara.
    that is so kind of you to say.
    i've been trying to build on what kind of writing i do, and concert reviews seemed like a natural next step, in the sense that they can be poetic if you try.
    i'm going to a bunch of concerts in september, so there should be a lot more to come.
    thanks for visiting and leaving your thoughts. i really appreciate every word.


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