Gathering of the Vibes 2013 – July 25-28 – Seaside Park, Bridgeport, CT

The 1995 passing of musician and counter culture icon, Jerry Garcia, aka Captain Trips, left a void for fans of the Grateful Dead, the popular psychedelic rock band he fronted. San Francisco, the band’s home base, held a wonderful tribute for him at Golden Gate Park. But the then mayor of New York City declined an invitation to hold a similar tribute performance in Central Park.

Ken Hays, then a young and dedicated fan, knew that east coast fans deserved to have a performance in Garcia’s honor. He and a few college buddies stepped up in 1996 to promote “Deadhead Heaven – a gathering of the Tribe” at the State University of New York (SUNY) Purchase campus, and approximately 3,500 Deadheads and fans showed up to celebrate the musical legacy of Garcia. The next year, he changed the name of the event to Gathering of The Vibes.

gotvlineup“Well, because Gathering of the Vibes was a much more uplifting and positive name,” he says when asked about the name change. Glide spoke with Hays just weeks prior to the event by phone, as they were getting much of the infrastructure of the festival grounds set up. “The second year we knew that in order for us to grow and flourish, it couldn’t be just about the deadhead community. We knew we were going to have to branch out and spread our wings and incorporate people that loved live music of all forms. James Brown has performed, The Harlem Gospel Choir and John Scofield and some of the jazz greats; Jane’s Addiction and Elvis Costello. We wanted the Vibes to incorporate all genres of music – this year with The Roots for instance. It was important for us to embrace all genres.”

Over the years the festival has hosted some of the biggest names in music. Now celebrating its 18th year, once again the line up is a diverse and eclectic billing, with one key element in common; every act on the stage puts on an enthralling live performance, maintaining the foundation upon which the festival was built.

With more than 40 bands performing on one stage or another, including the School of Rock Teen Vibes Stage, where many of the festivals performers often show up and perform unannounced with teenagers, the line up certainly has something that will draw in music fans of all genres of music.

This year fans will be graced with two performances from Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead) & Friends; VibeTribe originals Strangefolk are back again with the original core four members, and Bridgeport’s Deep Banana Blackout return as a late night act on Thursday – it really wouldn’t be a Vibes festival without each of these bands; The Black Crowes & the Tedeschi Trucks Band return to the stage bringing a southern rock flare; The preeminent hip hop band, The Roots, make their debut performance at Vibes this year, as does blues rock quintet Blues Traveler; and Saturday will feature late night DJ performances from Rob Garza (Thievery Corporation) and James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem).

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Some up and comers that attendees would be well informed to check out include Road To The Vibes contest winners Consider The Source; the jamtronic quartet Jimkata and Americana rockers The Revivalists, who have been tearing up the festival scene over the summer; or Von Grey – a quartet of classically trained sisters that sound like they were born to play music together. All genres of music indeed!

For Hayes though, the line up is just one element of the festival that makes it stand out amongst competition in a festival saturated market.

“I think what makes Vibes different from many other festivals out there is how incredibly family friendly the festival has always been and continues to be. Last year we had about 2000 kids under the age of 15 that joined their parents and camped out or came for the day. It’s an amazing bonding experience for the parents and their kids to be in an environment that is open and free, with thousands of smiling faces all around.”

Furthermore, location, location, location! Bridgeport Connecticut’s Seaside Park was donated in 1865 to the city by then mayor and circus impresario P.T. Barnum, with the understanding that the land be preserved for open space and recreational activities. Having been held here 1999 and 2000, before a five-year park renovation plan, and again since 2007, Hays says it’s the perfect home for the festival.

“It’s aesthetic beauty, there are very few venues that are fifty miles out of Manhattan, offering six and a half miles of Long Island Sound coastal waterfront and a beautifully manicured park. Once everyone settles in, and the sun is shining, there is no other place I would rather be.”

It’s a community – the VibeTribe – that attends the festival, many year in and year out, and that creates an emotional bond and investment in the event, he says.

“It’s not just what we do here in the office, but what the VibeTribe brings – the spirit, the inspiration and the love of the live music and community. It the crazy world we live in now, with a 24 hour news cycle of death and tragedy… you know, I think it’s really, really important for all of us to have an opportunity – even if it’s just a weekend – to tune out and focus on what’s truly important; friends and family and to be inspired by live music in a beautiful setting.”

Weekend and single day tickets are still available at the festival website.

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One Response

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