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Musicians honor Morphine drummer Billy Conway’s songwriting with new album

Laurie Sargent stands holding a guitar next to Rick Ganley in an NHPR studio
Emily Quirk
NHPR Morning Edition host Rick Ganley talked with Laurie Sargent, Billy Conway's partner in life and music, about the album recorded at their farm house in Hopkinton, New Hampshire.

Billy Conway was a well-known musician as part of bands like Treat Her Right and Morphine. He made a name for himself as a drummer with jazz instincts and sensitivity to the song.

Conway died from cancer in 2021. A new tribute album celebrates a side fans may not have known about him: his songwriting.

(Editor's note: we highly recommend listening to this story.)

Laurie Sargent, a well-known name in music in New England herself, and Conway’s long-time partner, spoke with NHPR’s Morning Edition host Rick Ganley about the record recorded at their farm house in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. It’s called“Further On: The Songs of Billy Conway”.

The album cover for "Further On: The Songs of Billy Conway." Conway is sitting on the ground, with leaves and logs around him. He and the dog next to him are both howling.
Hope Zanes
Courtesy photo
"Further On: The Songs of Billy Conway" is a tribute album to drummer Billy Conway. The album highlights Billy Conway's songwriting, a side of him not often seen by fans of his music.

“As Billy really came to the end of his timeline, we opened up the house to some of our closest friends,” Sargent said. “And the house was filled with people, and it was such a beautiful thing to go out and feed the horses and come in and there'd be music. They were playing for Billy who was in the next room, and I know he heard it and it was just pretty magical.”

Sargent said that the musicians and friends who stayed at Billy’s bedside talked about making the tribute album. “So really soon after Billy left his body, we started the conversation. We’ve got to do this, you know, it has to be in that room.”

Proceeds for the album are going towards emerging Indigenous artists from Montana, where Conway and Sargent previously lived.

For many radio listeners throughout New Hampshire, Rick Ganley is the first voice they hear each weekday morning, bringing them up to speed on news developments overnight and starting their day off with the latest information.
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