Tribute to Connie Converse
Wed Sep 2 2009
Photograph: Courtesy of Lau Derette Records
Connie Converse’s life scans like the plot for an unfinished novel: Originally from New Hampshire, Converse settled in Greenwich Village during the 1950s, privately recording her poignant, melancholy original songs in the hope of pursuing a musical career. After a decade of frustration she departed, joining her family in Ann Arbor, Michigan. One day in 1974, Converse packed up her Volkswagen and drove away, never to be heard from again.
Converse’s songs were finally brought to the public’s attention by How Sad, How Lovely, issued by the Lau derette label in March. Hearing her recordings—thin, boxy portals that poke through the decades with an accompanying swish, rattle or hum—you’re entranced by her prim delivery, bell-like tone and way with a memorable tune. Still, even at its sunniest, the music is saturated with loneliness and a hint of resignation. Converse’s saga lacked a Hollywood ending, but it’s good to know that her music has found caring custodians in Lau derette, and devoted interpreters like David Garland, Gina Leishman, Marissa Nadler and the others on hand for this concert in her honor.—Steve Smith