I’m so so happy to finally be able to announce this!
If you’ve seen me in the last couple of years, you’ll know that I often drop in a Connie Converse cover, such as Roving Woman or Talkin’ Like You. The first time I heard one of her songs (on Gideon Coe’s show), it was one of those stopeverythingstopmovingjustlisten moments. I immediately went in search of more, and discovered Connie’s story, leading to her disappearance in 1974. I also found her recently rediscovered and released recordings from the 1950s.
I became a little obsessed with Connie at first, I suppose, but I hadn’t felt like this about another musician for a long time, well in fact, ever – listening to these long-lost songs, I really felt like I knew her, and that she knew me. I could sense her personality and her pain, despite the technical precision of her performances, despite the distractingly beautiful imagery or the clever (and often-missed/misunderstood) wit in the lyrics. I know that had we met, we would have completely understood each other. Connie feels like an absent friend to me.
I played ‘Roving Woman’ for the first time at a small festival in Northumberland and afterwards, a friend said “you should play more of her songs, you should bring them to life”, thus planting the seed for this event…
Lots of thinking and plotting and planning later, and thanks to Sensoria Festival and the Arts Council, I can now present Roving Women, at Cutlers’ Hall in Sheffield on Wed 1st October, as part of the Sensoria Festival of music, film and digital! Here’s what to expect:
In my early searches for anything Connie-related, I came across a student (soon to be graduate) filmmaker in New York, Andrea Kannes, who had also had a really strong reaction to Connie’s music and decided to make her first documentary about Connie. Andrea visited Connie’s family and was given access to a filing cabinet packed with Connie’s stuff – recordings, letters, drawings – and the resulting film ‘We Lived Alone’ will be shown on the night too.
Andrea and I have been emailing each other for a while now, and brilliantly, she will be flying over from New York to present the film at the event. Then we’ll be chatting to each other on stage about it all, before we get to the musical performance. I’m really looking forward to meeting Andrea properly and showing her the delights of Sheffield! Here she is with Phil and Jean Converse, Connie’s brother and sister-in-law:
Connie’s recordings are generally just voice and guitar (though she did experiment with multi-track recordings in the 50s too, because she was amazing) but I’m trying to imagine how the songs may have been recorded/performed later had Connie had success as a songwriter, whilst of course performing them in my own style. I’ve chosen, with some difficulty, my favourite songs of Connie’s – the ones which speak to me the most – and I’m arranging them for my usual players i.e. Katherine, Hannah and Oliver, along with Chris and Neil from the Figureheads.
Joining us will be various members of the magnificent Stannington Brass Band. Playing with a brass band is bloody brilliant but more than just being great fun and sounding wonderful, I feel like the brass represents the weight of my feelings about the songs, so this part of the instrumentation is really important to the event.
I’ve also written two original songs about/inspired by Connie that we’ll be playing on the night too.
Tickets are ONLY FOUR QUID! I know! Get em here.
We all hope you will join us on the 1st October. Also remember to keep an eye on the rest of the festival programme as it’s announced- Sensoria are renowned for putting on some really special events in some great little locations.