The set of instrumental pieces entitled French Kayaking Music was written for and inspired by the film Voyagers Without Trace; a documentary about a French trio who kayaked the Green and Colorado rivers in 1938. When Conlee heard that the film’s director Ian McCluskey was looking for original music with a French flavor, a creative relationship was begun. Conlee, currently a member of bands The Decemberists and Black Prairie, was at this time delving deep into French accordion music. She was listening to old recordings and learning the style from books of French Musettes. French Musette music evolved in Paris in the mid-1800’s as melting pot of styles played on the accordion that was popular for dancing in the café’s. Conlee was quickly falling in love with this romantic music. The “Voyagers…” soundtrack project was the perfect opportunity for Jenny to put to paper some original pieces inspired by the genre. Steve Drizos, drummer for Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons and Conlee’s husband and musical collaborator, was brought in as recording engineer and then as producer and composer as well.
While McCluskey was sending over scenes to be composed to, the pair realized the need to expand the musical palette. On top of the collection of Musette inspired waltzes there was a need to express the feeling of the old west and the river itself. Conlee added piano pieces that are both somber and whimsical. Drizos then layered drum and percussion tracks and the addition of Jill Coykendall on clarinet adds to the feeling of loneliness and space. Other musicians on the album are Jesse Emerson on upright bass and Kyleen King on viola and violin, fleshing out the main musical theme of the film, the track
Traveling. Drizos also composed two ambient guitar pieces that beautifully reflect the splendor of the canyon to round out the collection.
Conlee and Drizos have also collaborated on a soundtrack for the short film The Kid, directed by Jeff Winograd, which premiered at the Portland International Film Festival in 2014.
The film Voyagers Without Trace will be premiering at OMSI in Portland, OR on Oct. 22 , 2015. At the event Conlee will be doing a short concert and answer questions.