Listen Live Blog ›
Music for kids and their adults
Acoustic, Americana and Roots
Exploring the musical legacy of Prince and beyond
I began writing the songs for Denervation, my fifth full-length studio album, and first in over six years, while convalescing in a hospital bed in South Dakota in 2014. As many of you already know, what began as a brief summer vacation at my parent’s house in the Black Hills, turned into an extended nine month stay after I fractured my pelvis in a horrific bicycle accident. The blunt force trauma also caused severe nerve damage, which made it questionable whether or not I would ever be able to walk again without a brace. Understandably, I was in a very dark place. To cope with the crippling depression, I started writing the songs that would eventually constitute Denervation.
After making some rough recordings, I sent the demos to longtime friend and producer John Kuker, whom I had worked with on previous Kid Dakota recordings at Seedy Underbelly in Minneapolis, MN. John recognized the raw potential in the demos and suggested that I come and make the album at Pachyderm, the fabled recording studio in Cannon Falls, MN that John had recently purchased and renovated. John also suggested that I enlist Matthew Kazama of Birthday Suits to play drums. I agreed and got on a plane for Minneapolis in December, 2014. At this point, it would not be hyperbole to say that music was the only thing keeping me alive. Matthew and I spent two weeks woodshedding the new material before heading into Pachyderm in January of 2015. After three days of tracking, we had the basics of Denervation in the bag and planned to finish the album at John’s studio in Los Angeles that spring. Everyone was beyond thrilled with the results thus far and was eager to finish the project. Tragically, however, John died from a heart attack on February 2nd, and the record came to standstill.
Born out of my attempt to come to terms with the trauma of my bicycle accident, the album was now inexorably linked with the death of one of my best friends. It was only after getting married and moving back to Minneapolis in the summer of 2017 (I had lived in Minneapolis from 1999-2010 but left to teach music in rural South Dakota and ultimately ended up pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy and film at Virginia Tech) that I began to muster the fortitude to finish what John and I had begun over two years prior. To aid me in this emotionally charged endeavor, I called upon both some long standing musical conspirators (Martin Dosh, Andrew Broder, and Alan Sparhawk), as well as some new (Johnny and Molly Solomon, Jeremy Ylvisaker, Jeremy Messersmith, Todd Trainer, and Dave Simonett). The result is a intensely personal record that addresses the subject of loss from diverse perspectives. From the loss of the use of limbs in the title track, “Denervation,” to the loss of the people closest to one in “The Convalescent” and “The Nurse,” to the loss of expectation and optimism in “Hope,” to the lose of one’s ability to deal with reality without the help of medication in “Pills,” Denervation is a visceral picture of the experience of the initial shock of trauma and its lingering effects.
This album is dedicated to the memory of John Kuker.