Jul 18, 2014
11:52 AMArts & Entertainment
Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport: John Fogerty, Widespread Panic, Ziggy Marley and More
When Ken Hays talks about the all-ages-welcome vibe at Gathering of the Vibes he gets a little wistful.
“One of the things that differentiates Gathering of the Vibes from the hundreds of music festivals that happen throughout the year in the Northeast is how family friendly it is,” Hays says. “Last year we had about 2,300 kids under the age of 15 that came with their parents.”
Hays (right) started the festival in 1996 in memory of Grateful Dead guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia. And the spirit of the Grateful Dead will be alive and well when the festival returns to the shores of Long Island Sound at Bridgeport’s Seaside Park from Thursday, July 31, to Sunday, Aug. 3. Despite its Dead Head origins the festival is not just a '60s revival Woodstock flashback; it’s a jam band multi-genre music mecca for the modern age.
The lineup runs the gamut from classic rock to reggae to flamenco-influenced guitar. This year’s headliners are John Fogerty and Widespread Panic. Also performing will be Umphrey’s McGee, moe., Rodrigo y Gabriela, Ziggy Marley, Maceo Parker, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Slightly Stoopid and others. Altogether, nearly 50 acts will perform on multiple stages during the festival.
“I think this year’s lineup kind of exemplifies what we've been doing for the last 18 years with Gathering of the Vibes, which is mixing in all different genres of music with the common denominator of incredible musicianship,” Hays says. “Right from the beginning we’ve always set out to give people a little something of everything, whether it be gospel, or blues, or funk, or soul, or bluegrass, or straight up rock ‘n’ roll.”
When the festival kicks off July 31, the featured performers will include Rusted Root, taking the main stage at 5:15 p.m. Highlights on Friday are Fogerty’s performance at 8:30 p.m. and Slightly Stoopid’s 6:30 p.m. set (both on the main stage).
Some Saturday performances not to miss are Dumpstaphunk at 6 p.m. (Green Vibes Stage), Rodrigo y Gabriela at 3:45 p.m., and Widespread Panic at 9:30 p.m. (both on the main stage). The festival will draw to a close on Sunday with a day’s worth of performances, including sets by Maceo Parker (noon), moe. (2 p.m.) Ziggy Marley (4 p.m.) and Dispatch (6 p.m.).
In keeping with the festival’s family-friendly theme, this year will see an expansion of Vibes’ Kid Corner and School of Rock Teen Vibes Stage, where young performers from the area will get to strut their rock ‘n’ roll stuff. Hays says it has been a busy part of the festival in the past and they’re hoping to expand on it this year. Teen performers featured on that stage will include The Remnants and The Bobby Paltauf Band.
Beyond the music, an attraction at the festival this year will be the food.
(Left, John Fogerty)
“We have a number of very distinctive high-end food trucks on site,” Hays says. “You won't find carnival food at Gathering of the Vibes.”
In addition to the music and food, the festival has arts and vendors, camping, nonprofit informational booths and even offers daily large rock concert style yoga classes in front of the main stage.
“Last year, every morning we had a minimum of 250 to 300 people doing yoga on the concert field,” Hays says. He adds there’s something for everyone at the festival. “If you want to go swimming in Long Island Sound and hang out on the beach you can. [Seaside Park] is just a beautifully manicured 370-acre park with two and a half miles of Long Island Sound waterfront.”