Friends, Fans Celebrate Blues Traveler Bassist's Life

About 100 gather at New York club a day after Bobby Sheehan's burial.

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."