[phlipcam video] Lady Lamb the Beekeeper @ TT The Bear's, the night Billy Ruane died


It was a little past 11pm last night when my editor Carly and I were exchanging Billy Ruane war stories in a cramped booth at the Middle East restaurant, the site for an impromptu gathering for friends who had learned of the legendary Boston rock icon’s sudden passing just a few hours earlier. In discussing bands, Ruane's efforts in putting the Middle East on the live music map in 1987 and his relentless passion for music, Carly casually mentioned how much Ruane loved Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, the young folk project from Aly Spaltro. Almost in disbelief, I informed him that the Maine-based singer-songwriter was performing just around the corner at T. T. The Bear’s Place. Knowing Spaltro was performing in Central Square on the night one of her close friends and most fervent supporters had died was an almost heartbreaking coincidence.


A few minutes later, after Brett Milano had joined us at our table and Peter Wolf made his way to the back of the restaurant, Mary Lou Lord and T.T.’s manager Kevin Patey walked over and strongly urged the three of us to join them next door for Spaltro’s set. Patey had delivered the news of Ruane’s death to Spaltro upon her arrival to the Cambridge club, and she was understandably shaken. Her performance was expected to be emotionally charged, and it didn’t take much convincving that Ruane would have wanted us there.

As we walked in, Spaltro was singing “Beluga,” said to be Ruane’s favorite Lady Lamb song. It was like walking into a church service. There were people sitting on the floor. There were people crying. The air was dense, but comforting. The room was solemly quiet, almost eerily so, except for one voice, one guitar strum and the occasional bass rumble of the 18+ dance party going on downstairs. It felt like a vigil, led by Spaltro up there on stage all by her lonesome but surrounded by friends and an omnipresent warmth.

From there, I took out my phlipcam, sat on the floor off to the side near the green room door and captured the final 90 seconds of "Beluga" (shown below) and her next few songs (posted above). Before long it dawned on me that this was the first show where you knew for sure -- for absolutely sure -- that Billy Ruane wasn’t going to suddenly show up out of nowhere. 

Friends, fans, musicians, writers remember Billy Ruane.  

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