Review & Photos | Gathering Of The Vibes 2013 | Bridgeport

Images by: Adam McCullough
Words by: Chadbyrne Dickens

Gathering Of The Vibes :: 7.25.13-7.28.13 :: Seaside Park :: Bridgeport, CT

“Gathering of the Vibes is a gathering of the elders, a gathering of the youth, a gathering of family” – Steve Kimock

One constantly encounters various vibes throughout everyday life. Whether commiserating with the receptionist while waiting at the doctor’s office, talking to a prospective new boss in an interview or sitting adjacent to a stranger on the train, one is consistently deciphering different vibes on a conscious or subconscious level. However, there is a location proven to permeate a plethora of benevolent vibes – a festival in Bridgeport, Connecticut called Gathering of the Vibes. Steeped out of the Grateful Dead tradition, people with strong values and good souls gathered to share love and the enjoyment of music at the 18th annual festival located just 1.5 hours northeast of New York City for four days and three nights over July 25-28, 2013.

Vibes commenced in 1996, originally called Deadhead Heaven, as a musical response to fill the void from the passing of Jerry Garcia. In 1997, the moniker was changed to “Gathering of the Vibes.” The music and atmosphere are rooted in the tradition set forth by Garcia and his Grateful Dead brethren. “Shakedown Street” is a term coined to represent the centralized bustling of vending, crafts, merchandise and party scene inherent at any festival or concert atmosphere. It originated from the days of vociferous lot activity prevalent at Grateful Dead shows. Ironic, that the song most played over the course of the weekend, "Shakedown Street" (most notably by Phil Lesh and Friends, Strangefolk and teased by George Porter, Jr.) as GOTV served as one large “Shakedown Street” for the members of the “Vibe Tribe” that called it home for the four-day excursion. In an era where new festivals are feverishly popping up each week, Vibes remains a trailblazer. Held in six different venues over its 18 years, 2013 marks the festival’s ninth trip to Bridgeport. The vast 370-acre Seaside Park, donated by legendary promoter and former Bridgeport mayor P.T. Barnum, provided strips of bouncy beaches, long lawns and panoramic views of Long Island sound.

When asked about the impressive lineup, owner Ken Hays claimed, “It is a result of sorting through thousands of comments and survey responses; we hope to deliver an experience that keeps our core fans happy while remaining diverse and current.”

Thursday, July 25

The festival officially started with talented instrumental shredders, Consider the Source, the winners of the Road to the Vibes contest (fan voted) on the smaller Green Vibes Stage. In addition to their usual fiery fusion of original middle-eastern inspired numbers, they aptly covered Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” and Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android.” Borboletta, an all-star tribute to the genius of Carlos Santana followed. The band boasted Tim Palmeiri on lead guitar and Ryan Montbleau took the helm on vocals for “Hope Your Feeling Better” while Jen Durkin from Deep Banana Blackout took the reins for the classic “Evil Ways.” Nigel Hall Band followed with a soulful set of raucous funk and R&B; Vibes veteran Ryan Montbleau delivered a solo set on the main stage; uber talented and genre-defying virtuoso Jason Crosby offered a steady and professional performance; and Dark Star Orchestra ripped apart the main stage in the prime slot with their patented euphoric Grateful Dead emulation – with Jeff Mattson being honored for performing at all 18 Vibe performances; and Bridgeport’s own Deep Banana Blackout closed out the night with a high-energy blow out with sit-ins from Kung Fu's Todd Stoops and Railroad Earth's Tim Carbone.

Highlights included:

Strangefolk :: 7:00 PM –8:30 PM :: Main Stage

Reid Genauer (vocals/guitar) founded Strangefolk at UVM in 1991 with Jon Trafton (guitar), Erik Glockler (bass) and Luke Smith (drums). After a lengthy hiatus, they reunited the original lineup last year and this performance marked the ninth show since reforming. The band remains a favorite of the Vibe Tribe since they helped head the bill at Deadhead Heaven in 1996. Highlights of the set included a sit-in from Grateful Dead historian David Gans for a tasty rendition of “Shakedown Street” that showcased Genauer’s clean and crystal clear vocals. The band polished off tight versions of their originals, “Roads” and “Alaska”, leaving room for some extended jamming before soaking up the adulation during fan favorite “Reuben’s Place.” Long-time friend and multi-instrumentalist Jason Crosby joined the fray for “Speculator” and “Westerly,” adding an extra layer of spice to the fray. Genauer explained why the band sounded so confident, “after playing a bunch of shows together, we are now coming from a position of calmness, we are accustomed to playing together again and can take more chances, can be more expressive and can roll with it.”

Set List: Roads We Take, Sometimes, Elixir, Reuben’s Place > Paperback Book, Songbeard/AGLW > Shakedown Street, Alaska, Speculator, Westerly

Kung Fu :: 1:00 AM – 3:00 AM :: Green Vibes Stage

With the three-headed talented monster of Tim Palmieri (guitar), Todd Stoops (keys) and Rob Somerville (sax), one has the makings of an all-star band, but on this night even more was added to the mix as the Dojo All-Stars were thrown in. Kung Fu regulars Chris DeAngelis (bass) and Adrian Tramontano (drums) performed alongside skilled musicians Nigel Hall (vocals/keys), Nick Biello (sax), Rob Volo (trombone), Cy Madan (keys), Ryan Cavanaugh (Banjo) and 13-year-old prodigy Bobby Paltauf (guitar). The Connecticut-based jam outfit felt right at home in the late night slot and took over the proceedings quickly with their beloved brand of funk and dance-laden grooves. Tim Palmieri still brandishes his axe like an effective weapon and people are beginning to fully comprehend the raw talent that oozes out of his frenetic fingertips. Clad in his traditional Adidas sweatsuit, the affable and gregarious Stoops slayed the ivories like a man on a mission. The highlight of the set was the Nigel Hall led medley of Stevie Wonder numbers to energetically close the first night’s musical offerings from the Green Vibes stage.

Set List: Do the Right Thing, Tsar Bomba, Hollywood Kisses, Samurai, Snaggle, Paragon, S’All Good, Bringing Up the Rear, Do that Stuff, Do I Do, He’s Misstra Know it All, Higher Ground E: Gung Ho

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