Saturday, November 25, 2006

Drastic Vows Require Drastic Measures

On November 15, a dark and stormy night, my husband and I drove through a torrential downpour, past deactivated electrical wires to Regent College to absorb the haunting music of Over The Rhine.

I LOVE the music of Over The Rhine and for years have wanted to see them in concert. By a random Blog-searching fluke, I came across an e-poster announcing their coming appearance in Vancouver. Here's a few facts about this intoxicating-creating-dynamic duo. Did I mention their music is amazing?

Based on a small farm in Ohio, Karin Bergquist and Linford Detwheiler are a married pair of artists, devoted to creating deeply passionate music.

I was first introduced to Karin's ethereal and jazz-tinged voice during my years in highschool. The first song I heard, "Lullaby", still makes my skin tingle.

The band first began performing concerts together in 1990 at local Cincinnati clubs and small personal venues with audiences of mostly friends. An exerpt from their website reads, "Enveloping their listeners like family, Karin and Linford kept them close to the fold with simple candle-lit stages and playful handwritten newsletters."

In 2003, they hit a point in their career where they realized their marriage was falling apart. Linford wrote a letter to his fans with an explanation for their decision to cancel the last half of their Fall tour. In it, he described their marriage as a tree saying "there are two trees in our lives: one is our music and one is our marriage. Sometimes we water one or the other, hopefully both. We've poured our hearts and our souls into our music this year, and we've seen that tree bear a lot of fruit and flourish. But we've increasingly realized that there has been very little room left over for anything else including our relationship and marriage. As difficult a decision as it is, we've decided we must go home to do some much needed caretaking and work to preserve this part of our lives."

So, they went home. They sought the wisdom of a marriage counselor and the support of friends and family. One night, shortly after Christmas, Linford bought two cases of red wine and told Karin to meet him in the kitchen. That night and for many nights after, they opened a bottle and talked until it was gone.

Out of that painful, soul searching time came the redemption of their marriage and the conception of a new album: "Drunkard's Prayer". They chose to record the album in their living room, where a great deal of emotional healing and vulnerability had taken place. In Karin's words, "it's an album about two people finding their way home..."

My husband and I had read their letters and biographies and were interested to hear from them in person and to see their interactions, to put an atmosphere and persona to who we knew them to be through their various recordings.

We were struck by their drastic personality differences. Linford is slinky and lanky with a hunched posture and a mellow, lumbering gait. In the words of my husband, his thick brown hair flops over his head like "the humble curls of a black lab." He talks with a SLOW southern drawl with very little fluctuation of tone or affect. In other words, he is Mr. Mellow Yellow. He quietly and nonchalantly plays rolling melodies on the piano, finishing with a slight bow of his head. His thick, dark-framed glasses surround large, kind brown eyes.

Karin is sassy, fast-moving and fiery like a pixie. During the concert she spoke articulately and confidently in her vibrant red sleeveless shirt and her high-heeled shoes She shot perfect-pitched notes into the air like firecrackers. She seemed dominant and high-strung and determined. She laughingly explained herself as "nervous and type-A" and at one point she told the story of how angry she was at the airline for losing their luggage. Linford shruggingly spoke into the microphone, referring to the explanation of her "outbursts" as a "bitchy conviction."

We were surprised by their obviously opposite personalities.

But in the midst of the differences, we could tell they loved eachother and knew eachother well.

They seemed at home. We were inspired by their openness and the courage with which they chose to drop everything and return home to reconnect and fight for their marriage.

They risked their career and a whole lot of money. But they decided that drastic vows require drastic measures. And they have come through on the other side with another intoxicating disc to chronicle their journey through the deep waters.


2005: Drunkard's Prayer, Back Porch Records
2004: Changes Come Over the Rhine LIVE
2003: OHIO, Back Porch Records
2002: The Cutting Room Floor
2001: Films For Radio, Back Porch Records
2000: Good Dog Bad Dog: The Home Recordings, Back Porch Records Re-release, digitally remastered with previously unreleased track.
1999: Amateur Shortwave Radio, Grey Ghost Records
1997: Besides, Scampering Songs
1996: The Darkest Night of the Year, Scampering Songs
1996: Good Dog Bad Dog: The Home Recordings, Scampering Songs
1995: Till We Have Faces, IRS Records Re-release
1994: Eve, IRS Records
1993: Patience, IRS Records Re-release
1992: Patience, Scampering Songs
1991: Till We Have Faces, Scampering Songs

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