Rick Duro Remembers Bobby Sheehan 3 years later...
Brooklyn Bob. He, to me, from day 1 was always the most approachable, relaxed and fun guy in the band. It was his addictive bass groove that introduced me to BT. I was home for a weekend from the Univ of Albany and we decided to take a trip from Yonkers, NY (where I grew up) to NYC, just a 20min ride, as there was never anything all that interesting going on in Yonkers. Gotham was where the actual was always @...and always will be.
At this time in my life I had been to a few Dead shows, but I wouldn't categorize myself as a 'jam band' fan. I went more for the cool scene/lots as I did for the tunes. It was more of an event than a concert, to me. Well, there we were, walking down 2nd Avenue in March. From a block away I noticed that I was grooving to something, for a minute, being baked, I figured it was simply a tune in my head, whatever it was it had it was addicting. I spent the next 1/2 a block trying to figure out what tune it was...what band put this groove in my head....?! I had never heard of BT...until the end of the block. It was then that I realized that the music was coming from inside this grungy looking pub on the NW corner of 13th st @ 2nd Avenue called 'Nightingales'. For the past several hundred feet I had been like sleeping Bugs Bunny in a dream-like state, being lured by the smell of carrots, which had taken the human, though ghostly looking for of a hand, leading me in, holding me just under the chin....only this was MUSIC. "What the hell is this music?!?!" I had to find out. My friends were clueless, they didn't notice it @ all, in fact, I may have went into the bar unbeknownst to them, I forget...
The guy @ the door tells me the band is called 'Blues Traveler' and the song that is playing is called "MotherFUCKer". I stayed the rest of the night, glued to this band and grooving my ass. It was such an awakening for me. As a HS kid I loved the prog-art rock of bands like Rush and Yes, loved Sabbath(I still dig this music), what I dug about it was that it took chances, 10-15+ min tunes, crazy imagery, it sparked my imagination from a creative and thought provoking perspective. But, as every live record that these bands ever made, they always sounded the same in concert as they did on vinyl. Bobby's bass introduced me to a world of music I only had barely noticed. The Dead should have been the ones to do this to me, but I was too busy scamming on cute Hippie chicks and looking for shrooms while we pulled pranks on unsuspecting Deadheads (Stink bombs were always fun in a group of trippin' heads). I liked the music, don't get me wrong, but it never went further than that. Bobby changed all of that.
From that point I soon 'discovered' tape trading, bands like WSP (8/5/89 @ Wetlands), Phish (Summer '89 I think), Col Bruce Hampton and the legendary ARU, Jono Manson, Joan Osbourne, the list is endless...also, BT got me into the ABB for the first time. I dug their radio hits, but never saw'em live. Well, 20+ shows later...those first 3 years were so RICH with bands that played different sets every night. You bought a ticket and NEVER knew what was going to happen, it was the ultimate ticket to ride, a great journey, you didn't have to worry about steering, changing gears, the bands did it for you, all you had to do was BE THERE and dance. It was as close to pure 'adventure' as you could get in an urban setting. There they were flying by the seats of their pants, taking chances onstage and the energy that filled the room was like the best drug you could ever take.
Motherfunker was always my fav live tune. When they played it it was as if Bobby was the driver of this psychedelic bus and he took us down the most magical, colorful and beautiful rode. He drove that song, pure and simple. He did the same for a lot of tunes.
I may have been to 100+ BT shows but I have never really gone out of my way to hang out with the band. I never wanted to be perceived as a hanger on. I would, as I still do, hang for a but after the show and leave them be, if something were to happen spontaneously, cool, if not that was ok as well. They just treated me to 3 hours of fun, why bug them now? I never asked for an autograph. Periodically I'd leave a gift with a roadie, like copies of the Sal's Phonies (phoney phone call tapes me and my friends made btw 88-92). But that was it. Well, one night, after a Wetlands show, (I had gone to alone) I looked @ my watch and realized that the next Metro North train from Grand Central wasn't for 3 1/2 hours....@ 5:30am. So I sat @ the bar watching everyone clean up. All of a sudden this guy sits next to me and says "How were we tonight?" I looked up and it was Bobby. I said I had a great time and named my fav parts of the night. He asked to bum a cigarette, but I don't smoke cigs, I offered up a joint. He smiled like a combo of a Chesire Cat and a Jack-o-lantern and said "Spark'er up!" We had Long Island Ice Teas, I think, and just bs'ed about NYC, college, chicks, etc music was barely mentioned. He left an hour later, I headed to a diner. End of story. It was so cool. Guys from bands that we like so much like BT, Panic, MM&W, Galactic, Mule, etc were always so approachable in comparison to so many other bands. These guys realized that the road, fans traveling from show to show..that was their bread and butter, they always treated us with such respect. The one time I approached Popper was @ Irving Plaza during the Runs video shoot. I sat next to him during the 'dinner break'. We started talking about comedians. I asked him if he ever heard of Sal's Phonies. He said he had, said a fan sent them to him while he was laid up after his bike crash. He even quoted a few favs to me. I told him it was me & a friend. He got a huge roar out of it and thanked us for making his hospital/bed/wheelchair stay somewhat bearable. Where else in the music world does this every day interaction occur?!
Anyway, enough rambling. The point of this is that I owe Bobby so much, all the great music I 'found' post 3/89 (add Mule, KDTU, GreyBoy All-Stars, Galactic and dozens more to the list). I also have made so many WONDERFUL friends. People who were @ so many of the same shows as me, it just took us a while to cross paths: Redbone, Frank D., Freddy, Gina Z, Steve Hagar, Lynda W., Pam G., Kyle H., Mikey, Seattle Sam, Mark M, Cory E.....the list is endless.... most importantly though....it was because of Blues Traveler that I met my best friend and wife...Tavia, and for that I will always be MOST grateful. We figured out we had been to 6-7 of the same BT shows between 96-98 w/o having met...Bobby and his bass put us there @ Red Rocks in 1998. Thank you Bobby, you will forever be missed.