Denison Witmer has been recording and releasing music since 1995 when he released a cassette titled My Luck, My Love, under the tutelage of the Innocence Mission’s Don Peris. Since then, Witmer has been steadily releasing music every few years. He now has over a dozen critically acclaimed EPs and LPs to his name.
“Looking over the arc of a career, there are moments when you got it right and moments where you didn’t,” says Witmer. “For me, music’s always about the process. It’s not always about the final product; It’s a journey. You work song by song and album by album in pursuit of your idea —I try to trust that approach.”
Witmer’s work is frequently collaborative. He’s worked with musicians like Rosie Thomas, Thomas Bartlett (Doveman), Andy Park (Death Cab for Cutie, Pedro the Lion, Noah Gunderson), Abby Gunderson, Blake Wescott (Damien Jurado), Devin Greenwood, James McAlister (The National), and labelmate Sufjan Stevens.
His most full-length release is American Foursquare (May 2020), a meditation on empathy, love, and the meaning of home. In early January 2020, Witmer also started a side project under the moniker of Uncle Denny (a nickname Sufjan jokingly gave him when they toured together) where he wrote and recorded a song a day for a month and then released them in February of the same year.
Witmer’s latest song, “It’s Ok to Live A Quiet Life,” originated from that Uncle Denny project. The two versions of the song, each arranged based on the personalities and musical tastes of his two children, are not only an ode to living simply and quietly, but also words of encouragement and advice to his children. One was produced by Andy Park, and one was co-arranged with Thomas Bartlett (both of whom took production rolls on American Foursquare)Witmer’s inspirations are broad, ranging from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet to the life of knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey, but his topics frequently focus on his personal life experiences. Witmer was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and moved back with his family in 2014, where he works as a carpenter when not raising a family and writing music.