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So Long, Leonard

The all-male Leonard Cohen troupe Conspiracy of Beards pays tribute to their idol.


Mark Christiansen

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Rusty Rebar

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Brad Stark

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Scot Velardo

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Joshua Warren

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Peter Whitehead

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Joshu DeLeon

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Clay Smith

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Bobby Coleman

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Robert Williams

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When Leonard Cohen passed away in November at the age of 82, fans around the world reached out to the San Francisco choir Conspiracy of Beards to offer their condolences. Not that the Beards had known the man. “We like to say that we’re stewards of Cohen’s poetry,” says Clay Smith, the choir’s production manager. “We’re just here to protect his words and perform them.” The 30-member group was born in 2003 following the death of local artist Peter Kadyk, who had told friends he wanted to form an all-male Leonard Cohen troupe called Conspiracy of Beards. (The reason for the name remains a mystery even to its members.) When the choir started performing nationally, music director Daryl Henline wrote the songwriter a letter thanking him for his work: “I told him we weren’t devotees and weren’t going to show up in his driveway in the middle of the night.” Though still mourning the crooner’s death, Henline says he’s grateful for what Cohen left behind. “It’s always been my gut feeling that if there was ever a person who was on equal terms with the end of their life, it would be Leonard Cohen.”


Originally published in the January issue of San Francisco 

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