Fred Litwin has a lot on his hands these days.
The Montreal-born businessman is the proud president of successful music label, Northern Blues. He is also the brain behind Gay and Right, the conservative blog about being, well, gay and right. Or rightwing, anyway.
“I was always far on the left,” says Litwin in a typically headstrong email. “I organized an occupation of the library at Concordia in 1978, protesting library conditions. Over time, something shifted, and now I find myself on the right. I’m not so sure that I have changed, but the left has certainly changed.”
“The left used to be firmly anti-fascist. So, I was supportive of George Bush to get rid of one of the world’s worst fascists, Saddam Hussein. Yet, the left was so firmly anti-American that it couldn’t support something that was so obviously correct.”
Litwin’s blogs tend to run the gamut when it comes to hot topics but his big concerns are evident in his writings — radical Islam, the lack of support for fathers and always, freedom of speech. The last is so concerning to him in fact, that he’s added a new venture to his already bursting schedule. He recently started the Free Thinking Film Society of Ottawa which is dedicated to presenting alternative conservative and libertarian films.
“What really appalled me was the lack of debate amongst the left. Your paper is a good example. It purports to support gay people, but only within a leftwing context. No conservative voices allowed. So, I had to start a blog.”
Whew! Well, that being said, we all know where Litwin stands. And at the very least, it’s good to know that Xtra has inspired active politics and citizen journalism from a defender of freedom of speech.
But on to Litwin’s less provocative side.
His Toronto label, Northern Blues is the recipient of the international 2008 Keeping the Blues Alive Award (KBA) for a record label, which is a hefty accomplishment.
Founded in 2000, Northern Blues Music has become of the most respected record labels in the blues. Litwin opened shop with Otis Taylor and in 2001 released Taylor’s White African, receiving a Blues Music Award nomination for Blues Album of the Year.
Northern Blues now has a vibrant artist roster that includes US blues artists Janiva Magness, Mem Shannon, Eddie Turner, Mason Casey and Watermelon Slim, along with Canadians JW Jones and Paul Reddick.
He mulls over what makes his artists different.
“I look for groups that are somewhat out of the ordinary. Blues is a genre that can get mighty boring by just playing the same old stuff. So, I think it’s important to try and go beyond the traditional blues idiom. If an artist is playing blues on a non-traditional instrument, that would be something that would get my attention. If any artist tried to mix a different style of music in with blues, that would also get my attention.”