Over the Rhine

An exceptionally creative week in the studio leads to a new double album 

“With every record, we’re hoping to make our best album. If I felt our best work was behind us, I’d lose interest,” says Over the Rhine’s keyboardist and guitarist Linford Detweiler. The band he fronts with wife Karen Bergquist just released their latest set—the group’s 13th album—Meet Me at the Edge of the World. “What makes this project different is that Karen and I are singing together more,” Detweiler says. “That’s a big deal for us. I always had a stumbling block about singing, because Karen’s such a great singer. But putting our two voices together opened up new terrain.”

Named after their former Cincinnati neighborhood, Over the Rhine has been mining indie musical environs for nearly 25 years—and Edge of the World is being released on their own label, Great Speckled Dog, with financial support by fans who paid $15 for the record in advance. They also embraced other indie promotional strategies, including offering the opportunity to host an exclusive house concert for $5,000, and charging $100 tickets for a private performance at their Ohio farmhouse, built in the 1830s.

In fact, the house itself inspired several songs on the album. “We were always city folks, and here we were on this old farm that was in various states of disrepair,” says Detweiler. “It was a spooky, weird place in the middle of nowhere. We were amazed to find weeds, wildflowers and birds we’d never known before. Once we were describing things properly, that led to the songs.”

With noted producer Joe Henry at the helm, the couple and special guests—Aimee Mann, Van Dyke Parks, drummer Jay Bellerose, pedal steel player Eric Heywood, and guitarist Mark Goldenberg—recorded 10 songs in three days, and another nine in the three days after, leading to the second double album of OTR’s career. “I remember saying Saturday evening, ‘Why don’t we come back Monday? It feels like we made a record, but why don’t we see if we can make a better record next week?’” Detweiler recalls. “Things were firing on all cylinders. It was an organic, easy record to make.

“In the last two or three years, it’s finally begun to sink in that this is our vocation,” Detweiler concludes. “We’re not switching gears anytime soon. I feel we’re on solid ground, and it’s really encouraging.”

–Lee Zimmerman


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