I have to admit I was scared – A different country, a different language, a big city. I was about to be surrounded by living versions of my CD library while staying in a French speaking city’s Chinatown, walking down streets I couldn’t pronounce. On top of that, the Conference Hotel just changed names so even the cabbies didn’t know where they were going. I think I had good reason to be nervous. If you think about it, I spend most of my time by myself. I’m either in a timberframe cabin back in the woods or I’m in a small production studio. Yesterday – Ohio. Today the most European city in North America – a city of over 4 Million: Montreal.
Some of my anxiety went away, however, when I saw another out of place man at the airport. He was wearing a floppy hat with straps that hung down below his ears. It buttoned up in the front. I owned that same hat…when I was five. He was also carrying a guitar. It was Pete Morton from England. I so admire his songs Two Brothers, about Israel and Palestine, and The Shepard’s Song about a peasant poet who walked across England 200 years ago.
I have a goal at conferences: don’t wait to say hello to someone. Time flies by because every hour is filled with activities. Instead of waiting to possibly run into Pete again, I stopped him in his tracks to remind him how talented he was. He didn’t seem to know it. The conversation relaxed both of us. We decided to share a cab to the newly named hotel, even though neither one of us were staying there. The cab driver was from Jamaica, which was one more language to sort through, so one destination seemed best. I had made the first of many new friends, and Pete Morton is….a hero! I thought to myself: “Montreal – I think I can do this.” Now I needed a city map.