Pianist/guitarist/bassist Linford Detweiler and vocalist/guitarist Karin Bergquist met while attending college in Canton, Ohio. Detweiler was touring as a musician in the final incarnation of Servant in 1989 when he and Bergquist formed a folk music band called Over the Rhine, naming the quartet after their historic, bohemian Cincinnati neighborhood. In time, the quartet whittled to Detweiler and Bergquist. They married in 1996 and relocated to a pre-Civil War farm they call Nowhere Farm in Hillsboro, Ohio. The duo is accompanied by complementary musicians on albums and tours. Over the Rhine's most recent album is 2014's holiday album Blood Oranges in the Snow.
At City Winery tonight, Detweiler and Bergquist were accompanied on many songs by a guitarist/mandolin player, Brad Meinerding. Together they made uncomplicated music with just a stirring vocals and minimal accompaniment, and this starkness was all that was necessary to make the homespun songs splendid. Bergquist's vocals in particular floated lightly and rode the easy-flowing melodies with a tender embrace. Adding a brief harmonica, piano, mandolin or guitar interlude, and in some cases two- and three-part harmony on the choruses, the musicians gave the songs a sophisticated character and polish. The set was more folk than Americana, but often borrowed a subtle country twang or bluesy croon. Like a fireside chat, the soft-spoken anecdotes told between songs enhanced the homey feel of the honey-sweet concert. Over the Rhine's concert, unadorned yet buoyant, was simply gorgeous.
Visit Over the Rhine at www.overtherhine.com.