(Originally written Oct. 31, 2010)
Over The Rhine A Great Debut For Calvin’s New Center
By Charles Jurries
It was a night of two performances at Calvin College. One by people, one by a building.
A year and a half ago, musical group Over The Rhine played in the Fine Arts Center before it was closed for renovations. With construction now complete, and the building renamed the Covenant Fine Arts Center, the same group was asked back to perform the inaugural concert on the stage last Saturday night.
Over The Rhine is a husband-and-wife team, Karin Bergquist & Linford Detweiler, singing sultry soul music, ranging from mournful jazz tunes to a more upbeat light country sound.
One of the band’s opening numbers was a memorable performance of “I Don’t Want To Waste Your Time,” a jazzy number that shows off Bergquist’s vocal range. Her voice is strong and powerful, but has ability to be chilling as well, a classical voice that seems to belt out from her soul, rather than her mouth.
While the night was as much about Over The Rhine as it was about Calvin College’s renovated building, the school didn’t escape without a barb thrown at it from the band.
“We’re the middle-aged pornographers,” Bergquist joked, making reference to a recent event in which Calvin College disinvited the musical group The New Pornographers over a dispute concerning their name.
“We’re actually banned from two colleges,” Detweiler added.
The duo made comments later in the night on how much they like the renovations, but was glad that the wood paneling on stage remained the same.
“There’s a lot of history in these floorboards,” Bergquist said.
Over The Rhine played a number of new songs, many off of their upcoming album, The Long Surrender. This included “Only God Can Save Us Now,” a song about finding faith in the chaos of a nursing home. The song is full of characters the band has encountered while visiting loved ones in a nursing home.
Another new offering, “Infamous Love Song,” sets out to tell the tale of the couple’s journey in finding each other and starting a new life together. Written by the husband and sung by the wife, it’s the type of song that works uniquely to a married couple such as this one. The chorus is a simple refrain, “Baby, our love song must survive.”
The group sounded great, terrific diction and amazing control in sound. It is as much a testament to Over The Rhine as it is to the acoustics inside the new Covenant Fine Arts Center. There was never a time when you couldn’t hear what was happening, but your ears were not ringing from excessive loudness afterwards.
Saturday night was a success for both Over The Rhine and for Calvin College. The renovated performance arts center is a great venue, and the band was an excellent choice for the first full-length concert in the building, performing to a packed first floor audience.
The night wasn’t without incidents. After Bergquist surprised her husband with a birthday cake on-stage, the main crew hand accidentally dropped the cake on the floor. Amused, Berquist said, “We’re musicians. We’ll figure out how to eat that cake.”
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