Sunday, August 03, 2008

Newport Folk Festival 5 — Over And Over

There's something to be said for a professional band. Over the Rhine is a band from Ohio, a good, workman-like Americana act that's been around for almost two decades. I've heard a couple of its records, but never actually saw the band live.

Well, I'm glad the first song didn't turn me off enough to leave. The band opened OK, but, I thought, I could run over and see half of Richard Julian and half of Calexico. But since we were in the front row, I didn't want to be so rude and leave during the first song. Good call.

Over the Rhine is the best act I've seen here so far. Better than She & Him, better than Jakob Dylan ... the two other acts in contention. The band was simply great. And this is another opportunity to stress how important a good rhythm section is to a band. The drummer was amazing, doing some interesting fills and tempos while still keeping it tasteful. And I wish The Honors' bassist could have watched closely his counterpart in Over the Rhine because this guy perfectly balanced playing interesting notes and patterns while still staying in the background. Man, they were both great. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better rhythm section.

And we haven't even talked about the pianist/singer, lead singer and super lead guitar player. All together it made for a great set, one that made someone I'm with buy a CD and a T-shirt. That doesn't happen often. I'm happy I didn't want to be rude.

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