I am a Pandora user. Pandora is an on-line music listening site that allows you to guide its search engine to music you like where you build “stations”. I have a number of stations that I have built using their music genome project database as a guide. You begin a station with an artist or song you like. Oddly and frustratingly, you the song or piece that you first enter will not be played. The only explanation they offer is that their music licensing will not allow that. Byzantine rules no doubt about not being able to serve up music on demand. The Pandora search engine will look for music you like dependent not on that artist name or song title, but on the elements that make the music up such as the type of harmony, rhythm and tempo. Now, it will often come up with more music by the artist, composer or song you initially entered. It is just as likely other music that has similar qualities to that song you enter. Sound confusing? It is at first, but once you get used to it, your frustration will ease. At any time, if you do not like a selection, you can give it thumbs down and off it goes to digital oblivion. If you like something new, give it thumbs up to keep it on the rotation. Building your station is like sculpting. You shape your station molding and fashioning it to what you want to hear. Let the site work for you, rather than let it control the listening. A little patience is involved, but I am quite pleased with what I have built so far. Best of all, listening is free!
The station I am featuring today is called “An October Renaissance, Over the Rhine”. It is primarily dedicated to my all-time favorite group, Renaissance. They existed from about 1970 to the early 1980S, with a reunion album a few years ago. Led by lead singer Annie Haslam, this English group seemed to transcend genres and have a truly unique sound combining classical, folk and rock styling. When people have asked me to categorize their music I always reply that they are in a genre all their own. My older brother introduced me to Renaissance when I was a teen. Like him, I found that the music of Renaissance struck a chord deep in me, pardon the pun. Renaissance helped me through my growing years. They were a beautiful refuge in my soul. Their music will always be in my heart.
The only group in my mind that has come close to Renaissance, since Renaissance was the American group of the late 1990s, October Project. Hence, October as part of the title of this station. October Project managed to capture for me some of the Renaissance magic offering a sweeping classically tinged sound, expressive lyrics and a great lead singer in Mary Fahl. Largely a corporate record company who pushed them to crank out a second album too soon all but killed October Project. After being away for a while October Project came alive again in 2003. I am not sure as to future albums beyond 2003’s "Different Eyes."
The Cincinnati, Ohio based group, Over the Rhine, that I discovered this decade, to me is in the same family tree as the other two, combining a powerful female lead singer with expressive folk and classical tonal sound with deep, poetic lyrics. OTR rounds out the sound I am looking for in this station. I have added some of my other favorite, more mainstream, (progressive) classical and folk rock sounds to the mix such as Kansas, the Moody Blues, Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, Sarah McLachlan, Alan Parsons Project and others. When I say others, it is the truth; with Pandora, you never know what new and interesting music will appear.
Lastly, I created the montage artwork you see to represent this station. The scene is a 19th century illustration of the Over the Rhine district of Cincinnati, Ohio, for which the band was named. The two leads of Over the Rhine the husband-and-wife team of bassist/pianist/guitarist Linford Detweiler and vocalist/guitarist Karin Bergquist are top left. The center image is Renaissance (most well known line up): Annie Haslam, John Tout, Michael Dunford, Terry Sullivan and Jon Camp and to the right of the montage is October Project now made up of Julie Flanders, Emil Adler and Marina Belica. I am working on art to go with every station I have. Unfortunately, Pandora will not let you post it, but you can see it here at Gentleman Agitator and its sister site, the fictional Enigma Earth's radio station, WC3PO, in Symmzinnati, Ohio.
I invite you to listen. I hope you enjoy "An October Renaissance, Over the Rhine".