DICK CONNETTE (PART 2) : PUBLISHED ON PRX 8 / 4 / 2017
BEYOND A SONG originates in BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA and is sponsored by: THE BLUEBIRD NIGHTCLUB , AIRTIME RECORDING STUDIO , AFRICA SASA and VISIT BLOOMINGTON.COM
Host Rich Reardin talks with New York City composer, musician, and songwriter Dick Connette. Dick Connette was born in 1951 in New York City. In 1969 he went to Harvard, intending to major in Mathematics, but soon switched his concentration to Music and American and English Literature. After graduating in 1974, cum laude with a degree in General Studies, Connette moved back to New York City, where he studied percussion (snare drum, marimba, tympani) privately with James Preiss. From 1979 to 1992, under the pseudonym A. Leroy, Connette was active on the downtown scene, running his own Soho recording studio, and working as a freelance musician/composer, often in collaboration with choreographers, video and film makers, and theater artists. Since 1992, Connette has worked under his own name, most notably devoting himself to writing music and songs based on American folk and popular traditions, under the project name Last Forever. He first worked with singer Mimi Goese (Hugo Largo, Ben Neill), and then, a few years later, with Sonya Cohen, daughter of the New Lost City Ramblers' John Cohen, niece of Pete and Mike Seeger, and the granddaughter of composer Ruth Crawford Seeger and musicologist Charles Seeger.
In 1997 Nonesuch released the first Last Forever CD, chosen by the New York Times as one of the year's top releases. fRoots in a feature article said the album "deserves to be shouted from the rooftops … the whole record is a thing of wonder." In 2000 Nonesuch put out Last Forever's second CD, Trainfare Home. According to fRoots it was "more varied, evolved even, than their first," and Sing Out! called it "fascinating" and "one of the best releases of the past year.”
In 2015, around the time of the final Last Forever album, Acres of Diamonds, Sonya Cohen, full creative partner in the project for over 20 years, died from cancer, aged just 50. Since then, Connette has continued to write and arrange songs out of the American tradition, under the new project name Too Sad for the Public, working with singers Suzzy Roche, Ana Egge, Rachel Garniez, Gabriel Kahane, Rayna Gellert, and Chaim Tannenbaum.
In New York City, there have been concert performances of Connette’s work at St. Ann's Church, Dance Theater Workshop, the Kitchen, PS 122, the La MaMa Annex, the Knitting Factory, Symphony Space, Merkin Hall, and Central Park's SummerStage. He has received grants from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, Art Matters, and The Beard's Fund. In 1990 he won a Bessie New York Dance and Performance Award, and in 2009 he won a Grammy for his work on Loudon Wainwright III's High Wide & Handsome.
The Studio and the Label
In 2005, Connette and Tony Award-winner sound designer Scott Lehrer opened up 2nd Story Sound, a recording studio gut-rehabbed out of an old industrial building on the Lower East Side of New York City. Rufus Wainwright, Anohni, yMusic, Linda Thompson, Bob Neuwirth, Marc Ribot, Jake Shears, Michael Daves, Nico Muhly, Hazmat Modine, John Scofield, Chris Smither, Suzzy Roche, Duncan Sheik, Geoff Muldaur, Chis Thile, Aoife O'Donovan, Dave Douglas, and Julian Lage have all worked and recorded there.
In 2009, Connette launched his record company, StorySound. It began as way of re-releasing his Nonesuch Last Forever CDs, but has since then expanded considerably. StorySound has put out 15 CDs, including albums by Loudon Wainwright III, Gabriel Kahane, Rayna Gellert, Chaim Tannenbaum, Brooklyn Boogaloo Blowout, Margaret Glaspy, Rachelle Garniez, and the Joe Boyd-produced Nick Drake tribute, Way to Blue. The label has grown, naturally enough, out of the social and professional life of the studio - the sessions, the pantry hangs, the players and producers, engineers and arrangers, composers, singers and songwriters that are part of its daily life, and has no grander ambition than to make a good home for music that Connette cares about.
Selected press for Last Forever
"The music is a teeming mix of pop, folk, blues, Cajun and Appalachian styles, unified by Mr. Connette's finely focused sensibility and the eloquent storytelling of Sonya Cohen in her superbly inflected vocals … the long ago and far away are inextricably bound to the here and now … compelling, even haunting."
- The New York Times
"Last Forever offers a particularly intriguing view of music we often take for granted, at once fresh and familiar and, quite often, hauntingly beautiful."
- The Washington Post
“Dick Connette’s vision of Americana seemingly encompasses jazz, vaudeville, minstrelsy, the New Deal classical composers and orchestrated pop. His songs are beautifully crafted, highly melodic and full of memorable lyrics.”
"Connette's originals celebrate – and then revitalize – the sturdy and enduring wisdom of the folk song … entrancing."
- The Philadelphia Inquirer
"The spare, stately arrangements combine traditional and modern instruments in ways that obliterate the binaries of classical and folk, sophisticated and simple, high art and low. Stunning."
- The Arizona Republic
"The songs are classic Americana, spellbindingly re-imagined. Intricately constructed and beautifully recorded."
- The Tennessean
Musical selections include: That's Enough, Do The Do, Old Alabama, John Doe #24, Then Go Home, Dillard Chandler, Wonder of the World, Black River Falls.
This program is "Evergreen" and not necessarily date specific. For more information, visit BEYOND A SONG.COM