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For Americana Duo Over the Rhine, Nobody Is a Stranger

Over the Rhine -- as a band, as an entity unto itself -- has been an unexpected journey for its two primary members, husband and wife Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler.

"It is mind-boggling," says Detweiler, who plays the acoustic guitar and keyboards, and occasionally sings. "The fact that we've made music for the last 25 years now, made a living, are still married, and still like each other is a small miracle of some kind."

Detweiler speaks with tongue somewhat in cheek at the end of that statement, but there is something miraculous indeed about the band's run. Over the Rhine has released 12 studio albums and five live records during their time together -- to say nothing of numerous compilations they have contributed to and the solo work they each have produced -- and their albums have won raves from the likes of Paste and USA Today. But all of that pales in comparison to the effect that their music has had on their fans.

The folk/Americana duo's supporters have bought their albums, gone to their shows in droves and even responded to their direct appeal for support to help make their most recent album, 2013's double album Meet Me at the Edge of the World, so that Karin and Linford would not have to go through a crowd-funding site like Kickstarter. Their fans have embraced them so enthusiastically that they have welcomed these two and their music into every aspect of their lives. Literally.

"At one point we noticed that people were inviting our songs to be part of what we call 'their big moments,'" Detweiler says. "We were getting lots of letters [saying things like], 'We met in college and fell in love and your music was our soundtrack,' or 'My sister was diagnosed with cancer, and during her recovery she was playing this record of yours,' or, 'We buried a loved one and wanted you to know this song of yours was part of that whole process.'"

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It is one thing to hope for your music to resonate with listeners, but to hear just how much your work has impacted the lives of so many complete strangers is part of the wonder and mystery that keeps Detweiler and Bergquist coming back for more, especially on Meet. The album is filled with the sort of wizened insight and thought-provoking material that is perfect for introspection and getting you to look at life from a big-picture perspective.

Whether Bergquist is singing soulfully by herself on the bluesy "Gonna Let My Soul Catch My Body," or welcoming Detweiler's vocal support on the Americana track "Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down," the respective messages of living life purposefully and standing strong in spite of obstacles are hard to miss. And on several occasions the album employs the phrase "leave the edges wild," which is emblematic of what the band seeks to do with their songs.

"That phrase has to do with realizing there are these mysteries, these unresolved questions at the edge of things, that are never answered definitively in one lifetime," says Detweiler. "So in our songs, there are times when, rather than making definitive statements, we pose an idea as a question to the listeners. 'This difficult situation has something to teach us; what do you think about that?' We try to invite the listener into a conversation."

Over the Rhine performs 8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 1 at Dosey Doe's Big Barn, 25911 I-45 N., The Woodlands. Dinner will be served from 6-7:30 p.m.

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