It hasn't been much longer than a year since the untimely death of Atlanta blues hero Sean Costello sent tremors throughout Atlanta music circles and around the country on April 15, 2008. Costello suffered from bipolar disorder – an often-debilitating mental illness characterized by swings in both mood and energy that affected his life, his music and, ultimately, his death. Since then, Costello's family has established the Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research to raise awareness – particularly among musicians – and increase research for treatment.
On Sunday, March 1, Costello's friends, family members and fellow musicians host a benefit concert at the North Atlanta High Center for the Arts. The lineup for the show includes a performance from 2008 Living Blues Artist of the Year Lurrie Bell, son of renowned Chicago blues harpist Carey Bell. Other acts on the bill include the Wood Brothers, King Johnson, Felix and the Cats with Jon Liebman, and Soul Shakers.
The long-term goals of the Costello Fund range from lobbying for national health care to providing services for musicians who suffer such emotional challenges that are triggered by alcohol and drugs. Typically, full-time musicians don't have a job that offers health insurance of any kind.
"In essence, we want to open the discussion of this devastating disease, help musicians recognize the symptoms, and help research effective interventions," says Costello's mother, Deb Smith, who also serves as the founder and president of the fund. "It is not quite a year since Sean has been gone and his memory has accomplished so much. This is a condition which affects more people than we know, as it is usually hidden from shame, and is a cause worth supporting, especially if music has any impact on your life at all."