Live concerts have taken a back seat during the Covid-19 pandemic for just over a year now, but Six Nations community members got treated to a virtual concert by local showman Joe Sharrow last weekend, who also shared his story of overcoming his addiction to crack-cocaine.
Sharrow, a talented Six Nations vocalist known for his booming, bluesy voice, has been a fixture on the local music scene for decades.
Formerly the lead singer for the band The Healers, he spoke of his early days in the band and all the partying that came along with it.
“What I’d like to talk about is very emotional. Not many people know what I’ve done.”
At first, it was just a little bit of cocaine here and there, and then it got to be a more regular thing, he said during the intermission of an hours-long virtual concert held via Zoom last Saturday night.
“When I was going to parties, they had drugs,” he said. “I had cocaine once in awhile. Always weed. I loved smoking weed. Not anymore. I got doing some coke for awhile. It didn’t bother me none. I kept running into more and more. I got to selling it. The money was good.”
He started using his own supply, he said.
“As I was selling, I was dipping into the stash a bit. It was starting to get worse. One bag or two bags (of coke) a night. Then I got to smoking it. That’s where it really took a turn. I got into crack cocaine.”
His drug caused a lot of damage to himself and his marriage, he said.
He once left home for three months on a crack binge.
“I just left. I didn’t care. The things I’ve done weren’t very nice. I was a terrible husband. I’ve done some pretty horrible things.”
Things came to a head after a blow up with his wife around Christmas 11 years ago.
He sought help from several people and used traditional medicines to help him get clean.
“I’m a changed person now. I’ve been clean now over 11 years. Clean and sober. What I’m trying to say, to anyone out there struggling, feeling no hope, is that you’re all alone. I want you to know you’re not alone. There’s people out there. You just gotta reach out to them to say I need help. I surrounded myself with positive people. I don’t hang around with the old friends no more. There is hope. All you got to do is just reach out. There’s people around you willing to help you.”
He tearfully thanked all the people that helped him and encouraged people to turn to traditional medicines for help.
“Our medicines are very powerful. It was our medicines that helped, that pulled me out. Grab your tobacco, grab your sweetgrass, smudge yourself. It will help. That’s what I did. You just gotta keep doing it. It’s not easy. It was hard.”
Sharrow’s performance was the third in a community wellness series Six Nations of the Grand River is holding online as a way to connect the community on various topics throughout the pandemic.