April 21 2006 Rt. 195 Fairhaven Ma, 3:45 pm
It is a beautiful sunny day, a little chilly for late April but the cab of my beat up old Ford F250 pickup truck is warm and comfy. While cruising eastbound on 195 towards the Cape and home I had one of those nagging feelings like I was forgetting something important.
Recently, my life is been in an upheaval of sorts and minor details (my name, my address) are escaping me more than usual. Suddenly it hit me. I think I got a gig tomorrow. I had better call someone and find out. "Hey Danny, How's it goin'? Do we have a gig tomorrow?" I asked "Oh yeah" he said. "At Ralph's with the Classic Ruins and Bob Mackenzie's new band." "Ralph's huh?" I grunted. "That means it's gonna rain" (It always rains when the Lyres play at Ralph's.)
"Hey Rick," Danny's tone got surprisingly serious. "Got some bad news. Lynn Ciulla passed away." "Aw geez" I said. "What happened? How? Why?"
I suddenly choked up as a flood of memories enveloped my brain. It was the late seventies. My band DMZ was just starting to get some national attention. Lynn Ciulla and DMZ guitarist JJ Rassler had an apartment on Freeman street in Framingham. They were a really nice couple and I visited them often. When I needed a place to stay, they offered me their spare room. I moved in and stayed several months. I got to know Lynn (and JJ) very well.
They were Fred and Ethyl and my girlfriend (Joanie Brocklebank) and I were Lucy and Ricky. (remember J.J.?)
Lynn was always gracious and generous. She had a wonderful sense of humor and laughter filled her home.
I remember many mornings sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and making funny comments about the neighbors as we looked down on them from the second floor window.
I remember her sitting in front of the mirror for an hour putting her "face" on before work.
I remember her gold Plymouth Duster and her green Ford with no heat. One morning when the green Ford refused to start, the brash brunette had no problem with thumbing to work. Later that night, we all laughed at her account of the adventure. "The first Camaro that went by came to a screeching halt." she said with that high cheekboned smile of hers.
At this very moment, I'm sitting on a folding stepstool that belonged to her. She had thrown it out when it cracked in half but I rescued it from the trash and glued it together with Elmer's glue and have kept it ever since. I'm going to have to enshrine it now alongside Kathy Duff's bicycle.
Lynn was so cool. Such a wonderful person. I can't believe that she is gone.
11:00 pm Ralph's parking lot, Worcester, Ma.
Naturally, it was raining.
Hey! What is this? There is no lake-sized puddle in front of the load-in door. It looks like it was filled in with some kind of stone. That puddle has been there since the mid-seventies. I barely recognized the place.
Being a creature of habit, I attempted to load my amp in the front door as usual. The door dude wouldn't let me at first. "Ya gotta load in out back" he said twice. I had already parked the car and rolled the heavy amp across the lot. I'm so glad he finally relented because it would have been a real pain in the ass to comply. I later found out that I was the only one allowed to load in the front door.
When we finally got upstairs to the band room, the Classic Ruins were on stage and doing their last song. I stowed my stuff and hit the bar running. I ordered a Black Russian for myself and a screwdriver for my honey, Susan. The bar was strewn with party hats and a large tray of festively frosted cupcakes were right in front. "It's my birthday," the young barkeep offered, "Help yourself to a cupcake."
It's a wicked good crowd. The usual suspects are in attendance plus many new faces. It's hard to miss Captain PJ in full puppet regalia. I used to know the names of all his puppet friends but now I can't think of even one. I was surprised to see the ex-Downbeat 5 drummer setting up. His band, the Radio Knives, looked promising because of the equipment they were bringing onstage. The bass rig was an Airline bass guitar and a blue sparkle Kustom amp, on top of which sat a suitcase with the band name in large, stick-on letters. Very vaudevillian!
The guitarist had a Orange combo amp which I have never seen before and an unusual guitar, sort of a modified coffin shape. Everyone was talking about it. Nobody knew what it was. Later we found out that it was a Hallmark Sweptwing. I love this kind of stuff! They sounded pretty good and played with a lot of unpretentious spirit.