Main Stage – Friday, December 8, 2023 7:30 PM
City Winery Presents: Over The Rhine live on Friday December 8th at 7:30 PM.
One December, not long after Over the Rhine began recording and touring, we were invited to perform some seasonal songs on a public radio station in Cincinnati. It was Christmastime and apparently they thought we were up to the task. We worked up a few carols and traditional tunes and Karin even read a poem by Thomas Hardy called, The Oxen.
It actually felt really good and conjured up an unusual mix of feelings from childhood: innocence, loss, wonder, joy, sadness. I think we were surprised.
People must have tuned into the radio broadcast, because we began receiving inquiries as to whether we had recorded any of our Christmas songs. I don’t think we had considered it at the time, but any young, struggling songwriter is open to the suggestions of the marketplace, and people were persistent.
In December of 1996 – can it really be over 25 years ago? – we recorded and released our first song cycle of some of the Christmas carols that still haunted us. We included a few original tunes and called our wintry mix The Darkest Night Of The Year. We played a special “darkest night” release concert on winter solstice in an old 1300-seat theater in Cincinnati. Every last seat was full. Folks began snatching up copies and seemed to agree that they hadn’t heard anything quite like it.
We began playing concerts around the Midwest every December and found that the rooms were usually packed full of people who had bundled in out of the cold with prized compatriots. Hats and scarves abounded. If you stepped outside during intermission, you could make ghosts with your breath in the crisp night air. And it was dark – oh so dark: a time of year with its own music.