Updated: Mar 11, 2020
Montreal is beautiful and I am embarrassed that it took 38 years of my life to discover it.
Also, it is damn cold.
I ventured across the border for Folk Alliance 2019 in the storied hotel that John Lennon and Yoko Ono did their infamous "Bed-In" protest in 1969.
John sure has a mixed legacy. As a musician, it's pretty clear cut: he, Paul, George, and Ringo are among the most cherished cultural touchstones that we have and rightfully so. The breadth of what they created is amazing. But as a man, husband, and father his legacy is much more troubled.
I was already thinking of that at the Conference when a couple of giant community bomb shells fell. One less directly touching our community but awful in its implications that music is and has never been immune to the syndrome of abuse finally being called into light throughout our society right now. Ryan Adams, critical indie darling and impressively prolific songwriter, is also a monster who used and abused women for decades. This revelation led a group of incredibly brave women within our more insular roots community to call out someone who had the same pattern of behavior, Ian Fitzgerald.
I have a complicated history with monsters. I spent two years working for one completely unaware. Discovering the damage after the fact shook me to my core and I haven't really spoken publicly or acknowledged it for a decade. It was such a shock that I mostly avoided discussions about abuse and sexism. I felt and continue to feel a very deep shame that I could have been that close and been unaware and done nothing. I know that that behavior continues I read and listen and watch as eagle eyed as I know how, but I rarely say anything because... well... shame.
That changed after the conference. I was able to work with a few gentlemen I respect greatly to create a website of men who recognize that they have room to grow, and to hold ourselves and each other to a higher standard as it relates to listening to, respecting, and supporting women in our community. I will continue to listen, but I will not let my silence lead to more abuse if I can help it.