Sunday, February 24, 2013

Memories of a Jazz Journalist - Part One

A new series of entries will come from an article that George wrote in 2004.

As a contributing editor to The Mississippi Rag since 1992, I have written more than 30 in-depth stories about musicians and bands in New England, New York City, Upstate New York, Canada, England, and Paris. Here I mention only a few of the amusing and interesting interviews.

One of the first interviews was of John Sheehan (Millis, MA) about his excellent Heritage Jazz Band, now defunct. John, who has a wonderful Irish sense of humor, led the band from his drum set, and he told me, "Good drummers are called 'Sticks.' I was known as 'Twigs.'"

John F. Sheehan was born in Framingham, Massachusetts on March 12, 1927. He served in the Navy during World War II and later attended Tufts University. He then was a minor league pitcher for the New York Giants.

He was the band leader and drummer of the Heritage Jazz Band which played in the Dixieland style.

One interesting incident which showed how well he was liked happened because Sheehan was ill at the Leonard Morse Hospital in Natick, Massachusetts in October 1981. On Sunday, November 2nd at the Stickey Wicket Pub in Hopkinton, the his band often played, his fellow jazz musicians put on a Hospital Rent Party! Dave Whitney, members of the Heritage Jazz Band, Stan McDonald and his Blue Horizon Jazz Band, East Bay City as well as the New Black Eagle Jazz Band all played up a storm for about two hours from 12:00 - 2:00 PM.

Sheehan died at the age of seventy-seven on June 1, 2004 at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Brockton.