My daily grind as of late has been 10 to 12 hour days with single days off here and there. And usually those days off are coordinated as such to carry out a long-standing plan or obligation. I really haven’t had a full day to just let loose and relax, let alone an evening of live music and dancing. Though the other night I found myself in a unique situation where I finished one of those 12 hour days and still had a burst of energy that was left to pop. I grabbed my man, hopped in the car, and drove to Hartford for a nightcap and to see Funky Dawgz Brass Band. For one single hour, I danced myself exhausted.
My point of this post is not to talk about this group of super talented early twenty years olds, though we will circle back to them later. That single hour reminded me of the power of live music and wishing that my summer festival were happening sooner! As I sat down to write this piece, my brain was flooded with memories from all of the times I moved into a temporary small town made of tents, stayed up until the sun came up and truly danced all of my cares away. And of all of those times, last year’s Gathering of the Vibes remains up there and holds a very special place in my heart. I mean, posting up seaside to enjoy four days and nights of live music…what could be better?
Meeting the legendary Warren Haynes was beyond incredible. Not having the time to get into a real conversation with him during his few moments with the press, I found it was very important to slip in one last question before he took stage: “Warren, a dear friend of mine (who is a huge fan) begged me to ask you…do you prefer boxers of briefs?” A light chuckle under the media tent, a moment of awe from Warren, and he outwardly pronounced “briefs!” I almost couldn’t believe I asked such a silly question. But then again, why the hell not?!
And then there was that moment in the very middle of the (one of the) night(s) when James Murphy was kicking off his late night DJ set and Rob Garza (who had just concluded his set) was inches in front of me dancing all by himself. I tapped his shoulder and said, “Hey Rob! Nice job! Set was awesome!” He turned back to me with a smile, and like he was an old friend, I introduced him to my crew. He pulled out a bottle of Patron Silver from his inside pocket and offered us each a toot. And then we proceeded to get down to the music. I danced with Rob Garza!
Those two incredible moments aside, the four-day weekend was packed with so much more. The Roots threw down an INCREDIBLE daytime set that may be up there as one of my favorite festival sets of all time. There really aren’t too many things more amazing than acting a fool and laughing with friends while dancing under the perfection of mid-day sun without a cloud in the sky or a care in the world. OK, maybe a magical Silent Disco set with incredible mash-ups (like Beastie Boys’ “What Cha Want” and Phish’s “Fluffhead”) with a live fireworks display that take you into sunrise are on the same level of awesome. Last year’s bill was packed with amazing names who collectively delivered the right balance of jam, folk and rock. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, John Scofield Uberjam, funky METERS, Galactic, Gov’t Mule…it makes you wonder how they will top it all for the following year?
Well here we sit just two months away from the 19th annual Gathering of the Vibes at the lovely Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT and I’m sure most are with me on the thought that it can’t get here fast enough! And oh my goodness, can I not wait for the daily schedule to be released! The organizers have killed it dead (again) with a lineup of some insanely talented musicians legends and up-and-coming alike: Widespread Panic, John Fogerty, Maceo Parker, Dopapod, White Denim, Umphrey’s McGee, moe., Leftover Salmon…and it goes on and on! And, remember that group of young bucks I saw this weekend that spawned the thoughts behind this entire post? Funky Dawgz Brass Band made it on the bill this year! It all leaves very little to be desired.
And what would a GOTV weekend be without a solid dose of Grateful Dead? This year, The Disco Biscuits will be joined by original Dead members Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. This is the first time that the two will be on stage together since 2011. Additionally, Keller Williams joined by Reed Mathis and Jeff Austin will pay tribute to the group in performing as Grateful Grass; a side project which started during a 2006 live show where Keller, Jeff and Keith Moseley performed bluegrass versions of classic Dead songs. The show was released as a live album in 2008 as a digital download and all proceeds go to The Rex Foundation. And of course, no Vibes would be complete without an appearance by Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead tribute band who performs real Dead shows live in their entirety.
Though all of that seems to be “enough”, rumors are spreading and people are talking across the community on who else they want to see round out the weekend. Festival founder Ken Hays has a habit of holding out on one last main stage name and releasing it just when we all need that extra pep in our step. Personally, I would love to see Rubblebucket or Marco Benevento on the bill. While neither of the two may be “front page headlines” either band would crush it on a main stage, light of day or dark of night. So who will it be for this year? Well, we will all just have to wait and find out!
Tickets for the full weekend of The Vibes are on sale now and if you haven’t made summer festival plans yet, you really needn’t look any further. For now, I will leave you all with a look back to last years highlights. HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE THIS SUMMER!!!