It’s been nine years since Boston based alternative rock band Letters To Cleo broke up and I am so thankful they did.

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Here And Now

I remember taking the news hard because going to see LTC was such an important part of my life for a very long time. Catching a Letters To Cleo show at Mercury Lounge, Tramps, Irving Plaza or Roseland and being in Boston or New Jersey on the same night as one of their gigs was something I always made sure to do, if I could. At those shows I met up with friends, got to catch up with my sister, meet new friends, grab a beer and immerse myself in a style of music and the New York social scene that is basically the foundation of who I am today. When Letters To Cleo disbanded it was also the end of my time in the city, the end of the 1990′s and I was thisclose to turning 30. I was closing a chapter in my life with New York, my 20′s and some of my favorite music closing with it.

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I remember my sister Jamie and I having a moment of silence on the phone when I shared the news. One of our favorite bands called it quits. Chapter closed. The story was good while it lasted. The story actually began with Jamie. We would always go check out their shows in the city but it wasn’t until she went to a Cleo gig at Rutgers University with a group of her high school friends (was she still in high school?!) that a deeper and life changing, connection was made. That night Jamie befriended Cleo bassist Scott Riebling, a casual friendship began, and after that night the friendship would always include an after show beer and short hang at future shows.

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Jamie and Scott

It was nothing different than any person, in any rock venue, having a cocktail after the show while the band says hello to friends, fans and family members. The after show hang, for me, was and still is a very important part of going to see a band. Meeting up with friends at a rock show, buying some beers, maybe buying a cd and planning where we would all go afterwards for food or more drinks was/is all part of the experience.

Hanging with Letters To Cleo

At any mid 90′s Letters To Cleo show, hanging and catching up with Scott always happened before running off to the next show, party, dinner or drink. Just a quick moment in time, one after another, and eventually it adds up to being a larger part of my life and future. I had no idea how those moments and the breakup of the band would eventually bring so many people together, make family members closer, uproot devout residents of DC, New York and Boston, change the course of my career and introduce me to my wife which turned two fifths of the band into my family. I was a freelance artist in Greenwich Village, just going to shows, trying to stay sane and hoping to stay out late enough to pass out and not obsess over how to pay the bills.

Letters To Cleo reunite for four shows starting in November in Los Angeles, Boston and New York City.

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I plan on getting all nostalgic here while I shoot a documentary about the reunion.


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10 Responses to “The little alternative pop-rock band that would change my life”

  1. diana says:

    like justine, loved this post. thank you.

  2. Justine says:

    I love this post!!!

  3. MMH says:

    I’m looking forward to the documentary!

  4. Laurie G says:

    absolutely ’bout the community hang post-show…support local music!! can’t wait to see LTC rock it.

  5. brette says:

    aw, that definitely made me nostalgic. i teared up a bit.

  6. KayKay says:

    This made my day on a cold, rainy morning in London. Yay.

    Can’t wait to see your cute face, Mr. Ungaro!

  7. USA Mike says:

    Touching and true. We won’t let you down. And I’m with Poe, the hang after is where it’s at.

  8. Poe says:

    You are so psyched. Can’t wait to see yr homage.

    Also you make a good point: part of the show is hanging out after the show. I wish people did more of that. Personally, I think I’m much more entertaining once the gig is done. And I’m loaded.

  9. Jamie says:

    You know those people on the Christian rock CD commercials with their eyes closed, swaying back and forth?? That’s going to be me in NYC – my religious experience.

  10. Betsy says:

    I’m so sad Scott won’t be a part of the reunion.
    He has commitments in Boston which keep him from traveling to LA for the first two shows.
    Scott’s mom

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