Wednesday, October 27, 2010

RIP Billy Ruane

This comes as both a shock and not a surprise, sadly- the Boston Globe is reporting that local music booker, promoter and raconteur Billy Ruane was found dead yesterday at the age of 52. (here and here) To call Billy an oversized personality is a tremendous understatement. I was introduced to Billy in 1999 when I was trying to book gigs in Boston from New York to promote my first CD, with a band that included now Crooked Still bassist Corey DiMario and onetime NYC hots*&t drummer Michael Plunkett. (For better or worse, Michael and I both moved on from New York) I don't remember the content of Billy and I's first conversation, but it was frenetic and heartfelt, incomprehensible except for the passion he had for all music, and that day my music, and sure enough he came through with a date at the Green Street Grille for my band Demodacus. And we had an great gig with an okay door, not amazing, but he made sure we had enough money to get us back to New York. (He didn't bank on the blizzard we drove into, but that's another story. A story I think Billy would've taken credit for if he could've)

Judging by the tributes in the Globe, Billy was a friend to many in different realms of Boston's musical world, and he was certainly a friend to the jazz and avant community. The series he I played that he was involved in included many local and national left-of-center jazz names, and I'm sure that was hardly the only propers he did for our kin. I say not a surprise because the last time I saw Billy was around last Christmas at a Jennifer Kimball gig at the Lizard Lounge. He was his usual gregarious self, but a little out of control, and I was scared from him that night and beyond.

The Boston scene used to be filled with Billy Ruanes- mercurial, difficult people who believed passionately in the music they liked, who would drive you crazy one day and give you the coat off their back the next. I'm lucky to know a few of them. They channel their eccentricities for the good of many artists great and small, and we are a little smaller when they leave us. Billy, I hope your next ride is as wild as this one was!

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