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February 1, 2014

Conspiracy of Beards band together

Marin Independent Journal (CA):

Before he died of AIDS in 2001, multimedia artist Peter Kadyk had a dream about a choir of men singing Leonard Cohen songs a cappella. He wrote in his journal that they should be called the Conspiracy of Beards.

Fourteen years later, his dream will be onstage at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley on Feb. 7 in the form of a 30-voice male choir devoted to the celebrated singer-songwriter-poet's music. They are believed to be the only choir on the planet that performs Cohen's songs exclusively.

Kadyk, who was 32 when he died, never got to hear the choir himself. But, at the behest of his wife, Anah, a group of 11 of his friends got together and sang a few Cohen songs as a tribute to him at an event in 2003.

That was meant to be a one-off performance, but it led to an invitation to sing at famed City Lights Bookstore in North Beach.

"And it snowballed from there," said 38-year-old Clay Eugene Smith, who joined the choir three years ago and now serves as its publicist.

Four of the original members are still in the choir, including 61-year-old Peter Whitehead, one of a handful of professional musicians in the group. He became a fan of Cohen's when he was 18, and his admiration for the now 79-year-old icon has never flagged.

"I think his words are incredible," he said. "I've always been fascinated by the mood of his songs, and he's one of the few songwriters of his generation who've really lasted, writing material that's timeless."

Over the past 11 years, something like 100 men have passed through the choir, not all of them bearded. Members range in age from their 20s to their 60s. The majority are amateurs with day jobs and varying degrees of musical experience. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at February 1, 2014 12:00 AM