NEW YORK A day after Blues Traveler bassist Bobby Sheehan
was buried, 100 friends and admirers gathered at the Wetlands nightclub
Thursday to celebrate what they said was a fun-loving life.
"This story is a fairy tale," said Jono Manson, a veteran New York musician
who often sang with Blues Traveler. "The band came from nothing, worked
their way up, played the clubs, built a following and made it."
"It was his unending positivity," said Tim Vega, an artist and close
friend of Sheehan's who painted the cover of Blues Traveler's 1990 debut
album. "He always had the energy to move forward."
In a room where the walls were covered with e-mail messages, poems,
cards, flowers and photos, one of which showed Sheehan walking out of a
swimming pool fully clothed and wearing a hat one friend
said Sheehan may have gone too far in one pursuit.
Steve Bloom, music editor for the pro-marijuana magazine High Times,
said he knew Sheehan as a fun-loving person who was dedicated to the
cause of reforming drug laws. He said he hoped Sheehan's penchant for
partying did not contribute to his death.
"With his kind of use, he put himself at risk," Bloom said. "He played
it on the edge. He was 31 years old, and he should have been able to
live a longer life."
Sheehan pleaded guilty in January 1998 to possession of less than one
gram of cocaine, which police found on him in September 1997 at an airport
in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He received two years' probation.
He was found dead by friends at his New Orleans home around 11 a.m. Aug.
20. The New Orleans coroner's office has yet to determine a cause of
death and is awaiting toxicology results from an autopsy conducted
Saturday, according to Ann Black, an office spokesperson.
He was buried during a private funeral in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Wednesday,
and many of the same people who were at the funeral also were at Wetlands.
They hung out in the club's downstairs lounge and socialized, drank,
danced and smoked marijuana while Manson and three other musicians jammed.
They seemed to be trying to honor Sheehan's life rather than talking
about his death. They brought flowers, magazine articles, poems with
titles such as "Rest Peacefully Bobby" and other mementos. The Allman
Brothers Band sent roses.
Manson, who met Sheehan when Blues Traveler opened for his band, the
Worms, in New York, said it was important for people to heal after a
week of crying, grieving and attending a wake and a funeral.
"I'm all funeraled out," he said. "I've lost a brother this week, and
I'm completely drained."
Spin Doctors singer Chris Barron, who recently was diagnosed with paralyzed
vocal cords, recited the 23rd Psalm ("Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death ...") in a whisper as Manson and the others
played behind him.
The photos on the walls documented a man who attendees said loved music
and knew how to have a good time. One picture showed him looking earnestly
at his bass as he played. Another showed him wearing fake breasts and
aping for the camera.
In one picture, Sheehan stood and smiled as a group of people stood
around him. He wore a black hat, a "Porn Star" T-shirt and a wry smile.
Behind him, a man lifted an American flag. The man next to him wore a
shirt that read, "Bob Kicks Ass."
Not everyone at Wetlands knew Sheehan personally. Diane Hesser, 27, who
traveled from Phoenixville, Pa., said she loved watching Sheehan play
and watching the band interact onstage at the numerous Blues Traveler
shows she saw.
"You could tell they were great friends," Hesser said of the band. "To
be part of this is a way for me to achieve closure."
A portion of the night's revenue was to be donated to VH1's Save the
Music Foundation, a favorite Blues Traveler charity, according to Gina
Thompson, who works with Silent Partner, the band's management firm.
"It was at the request of his family in lieu of flowers," she said.
"Bobby would have wanted it that way."
Sheehan's bandmates singer John Popper, guitarist Chan Kinchla
and drummer Brendan Hill did not attend. In a statement released
by A&M Records the day Sheehan's body was found, Popper said, "My best
friend in the world has just died, and I don't want to talk about it."