Gathering of the Vibes on the shores of Long Island Sound in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Seaside Park July 31st through August 3rd is undeniably one of the best outdoor music festivals of the summer. Hands down. In fact, it’s probably one of the best things happening in Connecticut, ever. Elvis Costello, Jimmy Cliff, Primus, Dr. John, Fishbone and Taj Mahal are among the veritable list of who’s who in the diverse world of incredible artists who have graced their stages over nineteen years.
This year’s lineup is almost too good to be true. While Vibes prides itself on culling a variety of acts, this year may be hard to follow. Imagine this: Maceo Parker, Ziggy Marley, moe. , John Fogerty, Dopapod, Slightly Stoopid, Twiddle, Kung Fu, EOTO, Trombone Shorty, Dispatch, Deep Banana Blackout and countless others are all playing in the same beachfront park on the same weekend… well that’s actually happening and it’s called Gathering of the Vibes!
Since GOTV has always been rooted in the jam band culture and all things Grateful Dead, Vibes vets Dark Star Orchestra will of course perform. And for a special treat – Dead drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman will be joining The Disco Biscuits for their Saturday night late main stage set, following Umphrey’s McGee and Widespread Panic. One particular act, Nahko and Medicine for the People, is not to be missed. They are the most aptly titled band since The Band. Their tunes are indeed medicinal, yet infectious – a definite must-see on 2014’s lineup. For a complete list of performers, check here.
There’s a beach, acres of waterfront camping grounds, food trucks galore, and much more all set to the sounds of the world’s best musical acts. Vibes is proud to foster a free-love fun in the sun kind of atmosphere that’s fully rage-able and safe. To get some more details on all of that, we caught up with Vibes owner Ken Hays who had a lot to share. We spoke of his background, the hundreds of millions of dollars different levels of government have invested in maintaining Seaside Park in the wake of storms, the benefits of returning to the same venue year after year, and much more:
KH: No not at all. We’re returning to our home [recent home for years] venue and we’ve got it dialed in. I don’t foresee any additional police or security needs. We already have plenty to keep us safe and the finest emergency and medical care – after years as an EMT/paramedic, I know – easily available to anyone should there be any problems. There’s even a hotline you can call if you have any problems.
OV: A hotline? Can you explain?
KH: Sure. We set up a help and information hotline – 25 people in an office trailer onsite – for anything you might need, 24 hours a day. If there’s an emergency, call the hotline and medical response comes to you. If you want to know what’s for lunch in the VIP tent, call the hotline and we’ll tell you. If you’re handicapped and need assistance getting to and from the stage, call the hotline and we’ll get you there. It’s really quite unique and I don’t know of another festival doing anything like it.
OV: That’s fantastic. What else does GOTV have to offer that’s different?
KH: Our community – we’ve had marriages held on site! Three or four. And of course the School of Rock stage and kids’ area. It’s an area within the festival that’s reserved for kids and families – no smoking, no alcohol; it’s even a nut-free zone for those with allergies and all the bands on that stage are teenagers! We’ve also got travelling bands roaming the grounds bringing the music off the stage and to the people. In a world of turmoil, Vibes is an opportunity to step back, turn off CNN and focus on what’s truly important: spending time with friends and family with a background of incredible musical performers on the shores of Long Island Sound.
OV: Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Written by Pete DeStefano | OurVinyl Contributor