In 1997, I left the Jersey Shore for NYU, where my intention was to get an education in Music Technology. Upon meeting LD Beghtol within my first year or so of living there, I quickly figured out that I would now be getting two types of musical education: my formal training at NYU and the special sessions from LD that commenced nearly every night at various dimly lit bars with great jukeboxes across the city.
I believe my first interaction with LD was when he invited me to back him up at a solo show of his in the late-90’s / early 00’s. This was around when 69 Love Songs came out, and we performed some of the songs he sang on the album. This invite quickly turned into being asked to join his band Flare as a guitarist/vocalist/banjoist/etc. It was then that my musical world began to expand in amazing and exponential ways. So many of the composition theories I was studying by day at NYU became put to good use in the studio at night. I felt appreciated there, amongst a very talented cast of characters and world class musicians.
LD and I were very close for many years. My fondest memories of my twenties were hanging out with him and Stephin and Dudley at Dick’s or The Phoenix, or our chats at Veselka or any number of diners throughout the city. We never seemed to run out of things to talk about. It’s true LD was always at his best holding court and educating the “noob,” as he was so generous with his knowledge, but he was also very enthusiastic about hearing new music and things that I was bringing to the table as well. We had a very good friendship. In 1999, we pioneered the Morgan Ave stop in Bushwick, moving into a pretty amazing apartment together. I recall many humorous instances of LD—always the nudist at home—wandering into my room wearing only a ukulele, excited to play a new song for me.
Over the years LD would design album art for me and we’d collaborate on lots of music together. We’d play shows together with Flare in different states, SXSW, opening for Low in Philadelphia, Luna in NJ, so many shows. He became a very dear friend, even coming to a family holiday or two (my family loved him).
I’m sad to say that we hadn’t been in touch in many years. But I always had immense respect for him and I thought about him all the time. His passing has left me very saddened and nostalgic for the beautiful music we made and the wonderful friendship we had forged. My wish is that he lives on in the music and art he leaves behind.
Photograph by Gail O’Hara; please do not borrow or use