None of you know me except Michelle, his brother and one of his daughters when they visited Vermont. My wife Lorraine and I moved to Vermont from Connecticut about 2004 after I retired from the CT Dept. of Corrections. My wife and I used to wilderness camp in VT and then bought a cabin. As with Billy there is something about Vermont that when we were up here on weekends we did not want to go home. So we stayed in our cabin for a year and bought a log home in Newfane which at the time was the home of the famous Newfane Flea Market. This was great for us because we were antiquer's. We would sell stuff there.
I got infatuated blues in the mid 1980's and compiled a huge blues file on my computer and made 150 blues compilation cd's which I dubbed and sold at the flea market. I had this guy who used to come up from Brattleboro and bust my onions about selling bootleg music and not paying royalties yadda, yadda, yadda. One Sunday he was at my table threatening to turn me in, have me arrested and telling me he was a blues musician. I had no right to be doing this. Enter Billy Ryan. This skinny guy with an african kuffi on comes up is looking at the cd's and says to the guy, "yeah because of guys like him all those old blues men can't get their false teeth cause of him". And to really piss him off Billy buys three cd's. The guy starts on Billy saying that I'm ripping off the industry. Billy says, "Oh you mean like the Chess Bros. did when they stole all the black blues players music. This guy does more for the blues than you'll ever do because he's introducing people to the blues sell cd's at a reasonable cost, why don't you get lost".
Billy and I became fast friends. We went to concerts and blues festivals together. We visited each others house, smoked weed, listened to blues, and I heard some of the greatest stories. We helped each other with projects and chores. We went on a lot of stupid Vermont adventures when he was here. Billy was a genius and I was not. He researched everything he did and taught me to grow pot the proper way.
Billy was part of my Vermont family. I loved him like a brother, I miss him greatly. I can see him now, we're sitting on the back deck smoking a bone listening to Hollywood Fats. I was so proud of myself when he told me, "Vito you are the only non musician I can talk to about the blues". I can't even play the kazoo.