One of our favorite local Americana artists, Nick Dittmeier is releasing a new album today (11/27). John Timmons caught up with him to get the details and see how he’s been keeping busy while not on the road.

Congratulations on the new release, “Companion” (extended edition). Tell us a little bit about it.

So “Companion” was a four song EP we released in late November of 2019. I began recording almost immediately after “All Damn Day” came out in late 2018. The producer and engineer we worked with on that record felt really good about how everything had turned out and we just started working on more songs without any type of real plan, which was really refreshing to work on my music without any kind of deadline or pretense. It was only a digital/CD release because it was just four songs.

When the pandemic hit and everything grinded to a halt, I somehow stumbled on some live stuff I had done over the last couple of years that I thought sounded pretty good. I discovered a solo set I did as a part of a listening room show in December of 2019 and that became “Alive from a Barbershop in Southern Indiana”. It was a listening room series I did literally in a barber shop in Madison, IN. I sent that stuff to our producer/engineer Jason McCulley to see if it was salvageable and I was really happy with the results. That became side B of the LP. I have never released any solo acoustic stuff, much less any live solo stuff with some of my usual stage banter and backstories to my songs.

You’ve always been a road warrior, constantly touring, playing solo shows or with your band, The Sawdusters. Since the pandemic hit, how have you been able to “scratch the touring itch” if you will.

I’m not sure what the exact total number of shows that were cancelled but it was definitely upwards to 150. We were going to head to the Northeast in late March and once those dates started falling to the wayside I knew we were in trouble. The last gig we played was in Lafayette, Indiana and when we got there the staff was wearing masks (which has obviously been normalized now) and at the time I was thinking “Wow. It’s going down now”. And there was just an ominous vibe over things. As we were doing that set my phone was going off with cancellations.

We’re really fortunate that people actually want us in their venues, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a relief to slow things down a bit and write and reflect on some things. During the shutdown we started experimenting more with loops, synths, drum machines and other effects. We haven’t been totally idle. The thing I miss most about the grind I was in is having somewhere to go and just a more definite future to work towards. It feels like I’m living life in very grey tones that lack the intensity touring life offers.

We’ve posted a live video for your song, “Wildcat Creek”, one of your songs on the Companion album, recorded at the Mag Bar this past July. Was that one of your live-stream performances? Who are the other players we see?  

Yes, it was a live-stream series they hosted back in the summer. I think this was the first time we had played together in about four months in front of any people. We took a couple of the best performances and released those videos.

We have been trying to stay busy practicing and writing here and there. It’s really hard to focus and get anything done when there’s no real deadline. I felt it was especially difficult to focus through the summer when you’re not only dealing with anxiety of pandemic, but other issues our country and community are confronting on policing and social justice.  As for the musicians on the video, Bob Rutherford on bass and Josh Bradley on drums.

More info:  Nick Dittmeier Official

“Companion”(extended edition) is available now on all download and streaming platforms

John is the mid-morning host on WFPK.