You could say the Saturday-night performance by Over the Rhine at the Majestic Theatre went to the dogs. But it had nothing to do with the quality of the show or the reaction of a very appreciative audience.
"We're talking too much about the dogs, aren't we?" deadpanned guitarist, bassist and pianist Linford Detweiler.
Just finishing up the first leg of the tour for the recently released double album Meet Me at the Edge of the World, Detweiler and his wife and partner, Karin Bergquist, were eager to get back to their farm in southwestern Ohio. Nowhere Farm, as they call their residence, is also home to their two very large and colorful canine companions.
But all the dog talk wasn't just two proud parents barking about their furry kids. The night's performance was a showcase of World, the couple's 15th album, which was inspired by their rural life. Only four of the evening's 18 songs were from earlier records.
In between musical numbers, Detweiler and Bergquist sought to bring the audience into the living room of their farmhouse. Sometimes they took the audience on a walk with the dogs; other times on the back porch to watch the sunset.
World, Over the Rhine's second album produced by Grammy winner Joe Henry, is something of a departure for the duo. Instead of focusing on Bergquist's sultry vocals, it brings Detweiler to the fore as a duet partner. The result is striking. The harmony almost completely changes Over the Rhine's sound, while still preserving the laid-back atmosphere they create.
That harmony was on display in the title song of the new record, and others tunes such as "Called Home," "Earthbound Love Song" and "Blue Jean Sky."
It wasn't difficult for the audience to feel right at home. Detweiler and Bergquist were front and center on stage, often looking at each other as they sang. Other times the two moved in a sort of dance with each other as they swayed back and forth while playing acoustic guitars.
The couple's musical companions for the evening were locked in that groove as well. Their "Band of Sweethearts" included Eric Heywood (Son Volt, Alejandro Escovedo, Ray LaMontagne) on pedal steel and guitar, Jennifer Condos (LaMontagne, Ryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen) on bass, and Cincinnati friend Nicholas Radina on guitars. Drummer Jay Bellerose, T-Bone Burnett's go-to percussionist, had been on tour with the band but was called away on a "professional emergency," as Detweiler put it. But the group's playing was so tight that you would have never known they were missing a member.
Opening the show was a solo Chris Porterfield of a href="http://www.field-report.org/">Field Report. Porterfield gave the audience a preview of his forthcoming album, playing a couple of new songs alongside three from his band's well-received self-titled debut.