The Art of Care
"The Best of the Midwest Variety Hour" was written and recorded during my yearlong stint as a traveling nurse, in which I spent three months at a time in various hospitals across the United States. Before I embarked on this "tour de healthcare," I invested in a humble two-channel recording rig and a few multipurpose microphones. Every one of these songs was tracked and mixed while I was on the road using this setup*. My studios were the upstairs room of a house in Milwaukee, an A-frame cabin in the woods of northern Illinois, a cozy apartment east of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and a flat near Balboa Park in San Diego.
This story is "the man goes on a journey" and "a stranger comes to town." Yes, every cliché is abundant: the self-discovery, alcohol, food, high-flying adventures, planes, trains, automobiles, open roads, romance, danger, friendships new and old, celebrations, too much alcohol, too much food, and of course, a magical situation involving New York City at Christmastime where everyone learns a valuable, family-friendly lesson. My personal journals are laden with the happenings of the year that I could attempt to detail in writing, but I’m going to let the music speak for itself. Although not a cohesive concept album that goes into great detail about my travels, the songs touch on most of the thoughts and emotions of the ride. Plus, much of the instrumentation is carefully selected to emulate the aural and visual stimuli that accompanied the journey. These cherished sounds and sights will stay with me forever; I wish to share them with you, the listener, in the best way I know how.
Special thanks to my family, my friends, Invader Zim, the Bad Assettes (Dan Padley, Carlo Kind, Jonathan Birdsall, Blake Shaw) and other musicians I know in Iowa City and all over the world who constantly challenge and inspire me, my people (and pets!) in Milwaukee, New York City, and San Diego who did their darndest to make those cities feel like home, team RSCCU, The Newman Center, Matt and Liz for editing this blurb, Chad at Pony Creek Studios for mastering the tracks, Luke at Flat Black Studios for recording and mastering "Dance with Her" and "Tea Trees," Lewis for his contribution to "The Night," and River for his collaboration and co-write on 'Under the Sun.'
Thanks so much, and enjoy!
*The songs “Dance with Her” and “Tea Trees” were recorded at Flat Black Studios in Lone Tree, IA and released as a single/b-side before I started traveling in 2016. Since they were never included on a physical release, I’ve added them at the end of the album as bonus tracks.