OVER THE RHINE Returns to the Lincoln Theatre Tonight

OVER THE RHINE Returns to the Lincoln Theatre Tonight

Described as a "sometimes pensive, often poetic, and continually progressive folk-pop ensemble," the Cincinnati-based, husband-and-wife team of Over the Rhine has been making music for more than 20 years. Fronted by Karin Bergquist's torchy, devil-may-care voice brimming with Midwestern soul, the band is led by brilliant keyboardist and songwriter Linford Detweiler who can seamlessly move from avant garde jazz to whisper-quiet folk subtleties to flat out rock.

CAPA presents Over the Rhine at 8pm tonight, December 14, at the Lincoln Theatre (769 E. Long St.). Tickets are $28.50 at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.

Students between the ages of 13-19 may purchase $5 PNC Arts Alive All Access tickets while available.

Over the Rhine began in 1990 as a conventional four-piece rock band, albeit one far more in tune with the nuances of songcraft than its three-chord, grunge-era contemporaries. Adopting the name of the gritty Cincinnati neighborhood called Over-The-Rhine, the group quickly became a local sensation and graduated from sold-out weekend club dates to opening tours for Adrian Belew and Bob Dylan. Two lavishly packaged independent records later, the group was signed to IRS, which re-released their second record, Patience.

Seeking artistic autonomy, the band returned to independence for Good Dog Bad Dog, a collection of glorified demos and home recordings that nonetheless eventually out-sold the band's three previous releases combined, and knit the band tightly to its fan base which had come to hang on the group's every move.

During the next few years, the band was pared to the core duo of Detweiler and Bergquist, as the two toured with the Cowboy Junkies as "honorary members" of the group, releasing their Virgin/Backporch debut, Films for Radio. Next came Over the Rhine's magnum opus, the double album Ohio, "a deeply moving, maddening, and redemptive work of art, and necessary, ambitious pop," as All Music Guide's Thom Jurek put it in a 4.5-star review. The intimate, living-room-recorded Drunkard's Prayer followed as their sound expanded beyond rock to encompass elements of country and jazz punctuated by the final track, a moody, late-night reading of "My Funny Valentine."

Detweiler and Bergquist's evocative, earthy songwriting and impassioned delivery is at its finest in the 2007 release, The Trumpet Child. A collaboration with ultra-talenTed Nashville producer/arranger Brad Jones, it celebrates American music in richly imaginative ways. Unfolding like an unforgettable evening of blissful underground cabaret, an all-night performance at a private party, or jovial friends passing around instruments together into the wee hours, The Trumpet Child is a juicy, informally epic pop album and unquestionably Bergquist's finest hour vocally.

The Long Surrender, the most recent studio album from Over the Rhine, is something rare and wondrous-an intimate epic shot through with the joys and sorrows of modern-day existence and the unchanging fundaments of the human condition. The fan-funded record, released on OtR's own Great Speckled Dog label, saw the light of day 20 years after their 1991 debut. It's the bountiful result of a collaboration between the couple and producer Joe Henry, whose songs and recordings they've long admired. Even more than their earlier records, The Long Surrender seamlessly interweaves the disparate idiosyncratic strains that form the many-colored crazy quilt of American music.