Gathering of the Vibes to Celebrate 20 Grateful Years
20 Jul 2015

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A Preview for the 20th Annual Gathering of the Vibes

Seaside Park, Bridgeport CT

July 30th – August 2nd, 2015

Written by Alex Kratzert

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It is a fine time to be Grateful on this generous planet we’ve been flying on. It’s as fine a time as any, really, what with its fair mix of promising, inspiring good and inevitable, inexorable bad. But in this time, we are lucky enough that one of these goods so happens to be oh, sweet music, especially that which comes straight from the soul and without assumption. It also so happens that the best musicians and the closest listeners of this sort of thing will be in Bridgeport, CT once again for the twentieth annual Gathering of the Vibes – one of the most Grateful celebrations that this fine time has to offer, as it so happens and happens and happens.

Now I’ve never been, but from all I’ve heard on the subject, Grateful seems to be the ticket.

Gathering of the Vibes has kept the spirit of the Grateful Dead flourishing with lineup after lineup of Dead-inspired performances, not to mention all the other right stuff. With the fiftieth anniversary of the Grateful Dead and the passing of the Fare thee Well shows, this twentieth year of Vibes seems to be its most Grateful year yet, providing an array of acts that know how to take things Furthur. Arguably the most endearing performance will be Warren Haynes and the Seaside Allstars, which will feature George Porter Jr., Branford Marsalis, Jackie Greene, Joe Russo, Marco Benevento, and more friends to be announced. Music lovers of all kinds are sure to be enticed by this show – hearing these musicians is an experience to remember, and their exploration of the many sides of sound never ceases to amaze.

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Joining this very special performance will be the always-grand String Cheese Incident who will be accompanied by the infamous David Grisman and Peter Rowan. Along with the promise of more friends in this Cheese set is a promise of a very special Grateful Dead and Old and in the Way set, the songs of which have been posted to give fans an opportunity to cast their vote for what they would like to hear. The voting is past, but with a list that includes songs like “I Know You Rider,” “Cold Rain and Snow,” and the timeless combination of “Help on the Way,” “Slipknot!” and “Franklin’s Tower,” there is little room to disappoint – if any at all. Riding on the Grateful train will be sets from Billy & the Kids and Dark Star Orchestra featuring Melvin Seals, giving any Deadhead ample opportunity to celebrate this fiftieth year in the kind manner.

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The String Cheese Incident

Along with these mammoths of jam, you will see Gregg Allman, Teseschi Trucks Band, Railroad Earth FamilyDay(who will be joined by Warren Haynes), Zappa Plays Zappa, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Wilco, Ben Harper & the Innocent CriminalsStrangefolk, Twiddle, Kung Fu, Tea Leaf Green, Turkuaz, and many more. Bluegrass fans will be happy to see Greensky Bluegrass on the docket, and those who make it into the late hours will be treated with performances from Lettuce, The Nth Power, Electron and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. There are hardly more appropriate candidates for such late night slots, and each of these will keep you stepping into the early morning in a catatonic state of funkified psychedelia. Click here for the full lineup.

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Founder Ken Hays

What Rolling Stone has called the “Must-see festival for summer 2015” is not only a must-see for the music, but also for the people. It is no secret that the Grateful Dead crowd is one of the most accepting, fun-loving and conscious groups of individuals around, and from what I’ve heard, this is just the sort to find themselves in Seaside Park for this celebration. While I have also heard my fair share of less than ecstatic comments about the venue, the remarks have all been immediately followed by the assurance of a fantastic crowd and good Vibes. Hell, the right kind of people and the right kind of music can turn even the smelliest, sticky barroom into a joyful paradise; with green grass, full trees, calm shores and a vast horizon, Seaside Park will surely prove nothing too far from a utopia – a modern day Cockaigne at that.

More or less.

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Seaside Park

In keeping the Grateful spirit, Gathering of the Vibes have teamed with a variety of non-profits who will all be sure to aid in the tireless efforts of Green Vibes.  Green Vibes is a group of conscious individuals whose aim is as stated: “to reduce negative human impact on our ecosystems and encourage responsible stewardship toward the land, air, sea, and renewable energy resources.” Last year’s accomplishments include: 22,000 lbs of recycling gathered and kept out of landfills; 12,516 lbs of non-perishable food, hygiene goods, and clothing donated to local food banks; and the Green Vibes Carbon-Cutters prevented close to 2 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Volunteer applications are closed at this point in time, but they could always use the help of each and every attendee and they are a prime example to follow anywhere else.

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Weekend camping passes are currently available at $235 with single-day tickets available for Friday through Sunday. For more information on the festival, visit their website under “Festival Guide.” It can be a difficult thing to take a break in these expensive times, but in my finite slice of existence, I’ve certainly found them to be damned worth the trouble. We hope to see you there, but whatever fine or not-so-fine place you find yourself in, have a laugh and remember the echo:

“Grateful!”

Photos courtesy of Gathering of the Vibes

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