This was supposed to be a pretty straightforward end-of-the-year column: say farewell until 2015, wish you joy, thank you for reading, and get you to the ball.
But the local hip hop scene is ending the year on a bitter note. As many have heard by now, local booking agent/promoter/scene-builder and, indeed, iconic figure in Montreal’s nightlife scene, Sharon McGoogan (known to many as Sharon Mount-Real) passed away suddenly this past Monday morning. There is still no clear answer as to what Sharon succumbed to, but the news has saddened and shocked generations of Montreal party-people.
Watching members of the city’s close-knit artist scene learn of Sharon’s passing, almost one by one on social media Tuesday into Wednesday was at once painful and remarkably beautiful. As one commenter noted among the fray, there is hardly a DJ in the city that Sharon didn’t work with or help out in some capacity.
Many of them expressed their grief with heartfelt anecdotes, remembering Sharon nearly to a person as a hard-working, devoted and selfless fighter for the local rap and club scene. Almost anyone over 30 in this town who loves music, and who was around the Main and the party scene in the ’90s, probably still has a vinyl or two purchased at Sharon’s old store Noize Records, a St-Laurent fixture for many good years.
I was taken aback by the news in a private message between our mutual friend and Under Pressure fest colleague Melissa Proietti, and a few of the other booker/promo volunteers at the organization, where Sharon handled every single needle drop on every DJ stage from top to bottom for over a decade.
Mel introduced me to Sharon about two years ago, when I became an UP volunteer, booking and programming live acts for the 2012 edition of the fest. It was the same job as Sharon’s, on a different scale, essentially, and with fewer heads to count, to a large degree. We worked late into the night over many panicked phone calls that summer, always managing to find consensus between crossover scheduling foibles: certain rap acts and their DJs inadvertently split across two stage at the same time, for example, or certain bigger name, between-act DJ’s requirements on the main stage.
Sharon taught me pretty quick that with an operation of that scale, the devil is in the details no matter how much you plan and how good your intentions are. I was new. Now, I am not a youngster by any means. (And I just said “youngster.” True story.) I wouldn’t have undertaken something like programming UP for two entire days and a night if I didn’t think I had a few things figured out when I got on board. So inevitably, our egos flared up — sometimes publicly enough, if you happened to be paying attention — and I definitely flexed like a rookie with something to prove.
As we had joked earlier this year after a rather more personal, albeit brief, falling out, we broke up and got back together pretty damn often. I am glad that aside from the times I wish I had acted or spoken differently, or just plain been less of a dick, we got to know each other a bit outside of UP-related affairs and actually have a good time, memorably at a Boiler Room where we chilled and built with some local artists.
I’ll remember that side of Sharon way more than head-butting sessions we got into on a stressful mission to make good times happen for other people, which she excelled at.
So I’ll spare you the “keep your loved ones close” and all that. Not because it isn’t true, but because it’s cheap advice. We don’t all share the same loved ones and they aren’t that always easy to love and/or keep close, if we’re being honest. And I’ll leave aside the “mysterious ways” shit, too. This sucks and a lotta bereaved friends and family are gonna have a crappy Christmas season even beginning to try to get their heads around it.
I will, however, share what this has had me thinking a lot about in the past two days.
The way we treat others can come back to haunt us. Respect is a real thing. It isn’t a word we just toss around, or an expectation to be carried just for breathing the air, greeting its perceived absence with loud indignance wherever we feel slighted.
We all deserve dignity, but respect remains something to be earned. And when attained, even by the slightest degree, respect can slip away as fast as life itself. Practising forgiveness is an extremely difficult proposition. It’s easier to hate, forget, remember again once in a while, and hate some more. It’s said that to err is human and to forgive, divine, but I don’t know about any of that. Seems to me that puts the whole idea on a pedestal. It’s human to forgive. It all depends on what kind of human you wanna be.
Sharon was one of the good ones, for sure. She earned all my respect. I’m not sure she’d say the same, necessarily, but she she kept giving me another chance to earn a little more, and I am grateful for it. Rather than lament my shortcomings, I’m going to put the lesson back toward getting closer to the kind of human I’d like to be: the type who earns respect instead of expects it.
On behalf of this column, Cult MTL and, in my own capacity, the Under Pressure family, I extend my sincerest condolences to all those she touched, and who loved her. Rest in Power, Sharon.
This time of year can be pretty slow on the event front. Not so this week, with several quality DJ nights and an American rap original on the bill, too. I don’t think I have to tell you who would want you to get up, get out and get busy this week as we lead into the season of good cheer.
And so, I bid you farewell until 2015, I wish you joy and I thank you for reading, Now let’s get you to the ball, Fezziwig.
Thursday: Pre-game with a new EP from local DJ, producer and rapper GrandBuda, Esclavos del Dey, streaming here and dropping free on Bandcamp here. This time out, GB snatches the mic for a first full-out rap project over beats from Kaytranada, Nick Wisdom, Louie P. and more.
With that on your headphones, head out to les Jeudis #TBT with Shash’u in the house for a year-end party at Grenade. 1603 Ontario E., 9 p.m.
Meanwhile at Salon Officel, Loud and Lary get on the decks for les Jeunes Jeudis. 351 Roy E., 10 p.m.
Friday: Pre-Christmas dinner date plans yet? Take it to Upstairs and let Malika Tirolien‘s soul melodies do the rest. 1254 Mackay, 8 p.m.
Back at Salon Officiel, it’s a Toast Dawg Christmas Pt. 2 with the miracle of guest DJ Sev Dee in the building. 351 Roy E., 10 p.m., free
And at Bleury Bar a Vinyle, Lexis puts down Music Is My Sanctuary‘s best of 2014 with a five-hour solo set. 2109 Bleury, 10 p.m.
Saturday: Same place, different set of music connoisseurs, as WeFunk residents Professor Groove and Ruby Jane receive legendary Montreal party rocker DJ Devious. 2109 Bleury, 10 p.m.
Monday: I guarantee a lotta treein’ and snowin’ and ho-ho-ho’in at this very special Juicy J pre-Xmas jam at l’Olympia, with Peter Jackson and Shortcut. Bonus: J kicks it with a live band. 1004 Ste-Catherine E., 10 p.m., $47.50 advance/$95.12 VIP/$120 VIP plus
Wednesday: It’s Christmas Eve, kiddies. You’re home, the tree is lit, there’s wood in the fireplace, Nat King Cole is on the hi-fi, and Dad is getting angry-day-drunker by the cup o’cheer. Get away from it all with me and fellow Cult MTL regular Erik Leijon as we crawl down the chimney of Loyola Campus with sacks full of soap-bars to bring you the Well…Try An’ Have a Merry Xmas Christmas Special on CJLO 1690 AM .
We’ll have some of the best music, local and otherwise, of 2014, some good stories, our favourite moments, and guest interview tidings from Tommy Kruise, Pierre Kwenders, Brooke Walsh, Try-n-Save store Detective Don Brodka, and more. This year, you’re spending Christmas in juvenile hall. Fuck Paul Reid. ■