Gathering of the Vibes - August 10, 11, 12, 2007 in Bridgeport, CT
Read Highlights of Each Day below
I was at the show tonight, and I just heard Deep Banana Blackout's second encore finish the show at 12:58 a.m. Through the magic of public radio station WPKN 89.5, I heard the finale from the comfort of my nice dry home which is just 30 miles from the Bridgeport, CT, Seaside Park locale of the show this year. We beat the traffic outta there and were able to listen to DBB's set on the drive home.
Deep Banana Blackout was proudly introduced onstage tonight, by the Mayor of Bridgeport, John Fabrizi. Fitting that the mayor was present. P.T. Barnum was once mayor of Bridgeport and saw to it that the very park where this concert was held, was created. Barnum lived on the park land, right on Iranistan St. I believe it was his land and he donated it.
Deep Banana Blackout
only does a few of gigs a year these
days, but they wouldn't miss Gathering of the Vibes, especially when it
has come back to their old hometown. "Welcome to our 'hood" as Jen
said from the stage. Their show tonight was a "Tribute to the Godfather of
Soul, the Hardest Working Man in Show Biz, James Brown!" And it could not
have rocked funkier!
Deep Banana Blackout
Before that George Clinton and P-Funk rocked the house. Deep Banana channels funk, but George C. invented it. His band was tight, and loose, hot and cool, earthy and outer spatial. He brought the heat on this clammy night.
Friday afternoon and evening's bands were stellar: Dickie Betts ended his set with "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and it sounded better than some Allman Brothers versions. Mickey Hart and his all star band were musical and danceable.
Today was rainy and downright cold, with temperatures in the high 50's, down from 95 yesterday. But the rain didn't dampen the Vibes crowd. This was my third Gathering of the Vibes, and it's rained some the last 2 years too, though on Saturday night, not Friday like this year. Anyway this crowd expects it and handles it without a whine. And just has a great time, no matter the weather.
And what's not to like? A friend compared this gathering's vibe to the true summer of love of 1966, as opposed to the commercial summer of love in 1967. The crowd is groovy and mellow, the sound system is awesome, the bands that play are incredible and mean every note they play, the food court keeps us well fed. So what if a little rain falls.
The big screen has the projected images from the stage visible on both sides (!) so you can actually sit on the sea wall with the offshore breeze licking your back, and hear and see the show just fine. Mariaville, up in the countryside by Albany, NY, where the show was held for the last couple of years, had many charms, but it didn't have the ocean!
The only bit of a drag this year is that the campground was filled up by Sat. So if you had purchased camping tickets and arrived after the campground was filled, you can still camp, but you will have to move your gear from your car in the parking lot, by shuttle bus, to the campground, and it may take more than one trip. Camping next to the car at Indian Lookout at Mariaville was much easier.
Tomorrow and Sunday's weather forecasts online are showing the smiling sun face that we love to see. But it was worth braving the weather today to see some of the finest bands scheduled in this 4 day festival. Cheerio!
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Just got back from spending most of the day at GOTV, and am listening to the end of the Ratdog show live on blessed WPKN 89.5 as I write. WPKN even had the show online at WPKN.org. All of the musical artists today agreed to let their live show's be on air. There was some question earlier about Ratdog and Les Claypool releasing rights to broadcast, but they did. The show at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT seemed to be filled to capacity. Still, it is wonderful that the producers of this show allow people in their area that could be potential concert-goers, to listen from home. A rare treat.
My friend Brian said tonight "sometimes Ratdog is great, and sometimes they're not so great." Which I knew. But tonight they are putting on a great show, as they did last year as Saturday's headline act at the Vibes. Very tight, varied material. "Come Together" cover. Now they are pulling an epic jam on St. Stephen.
For once it's not raining during Ratdog's show, which it did the last 2 years. In fact weather today was perfect with blue cloudless skies and a little offshore breeze. Tonight is even more perfect, with temps in the mid-60s and zero sunburn index.
There were plenty of guests sitting in today. Donna Jean was onstage with Ratdog. Bob Weir played with Keller Williams. Last night Jen Durkin played with Mickey Hart and others. It's the kind of musical mix-up that we hope for at the Vibes.
Les Claypool's set, once it got cooking, caused handsome men everywhere to spontaneously do a prancing jive dance all through the audience. It was particularly fetching when done while walking. Never saw so many guys dancing before. Funk music has been the undercurrent this year, and has popped up all over the place in different artists' sets over the last 2 days.
Ryan Montbleau Band had the opening spot at 11:00 a.m., which includes the thankless job of reviving a partied-out crowd, with music. Their gentle amusing music did the trick.
Sixteen non-profit organizations are given space and ink at Gathering of the Vibes to spread their worthy words and examples.This year groups on the forefront of developing clean energy techniques were featured. You could get your cellphone, Ipod, camera, or laptop juiced up for free, compliments of The Sun, at the Solar Bus (Solarbus.org). You could have a Solar Smoothie, where the blender worked by solar panels. CommunityEnergy.biz will donate enough wind energy credits to offset 100% of the electricity used for this year's event.
I was just ruminating today again on how well organized and run the Gathering of the Vibes Festivals are. Even the website and free hand-out programs are well written and designed, and a pleasure to use. And I was thinking how I've never seen any kind of "trouble" in the mellow crowd in my 3 yearly visits. Police patrolled the crowd on horseback, Segue, and auto.
I'm sorry to report that today was different and there was a confrontation with police. A trustworthy friend reported that he saw 3 or 4 concertgoers on the ground with handcuffs on, and police around. There was almost a bigger problem when police asked the crowd to move back, and the crowd belligerantly refused. (Later we heard that the arrest was a rowdy concert-goer who was hitting others in the face.) Later we heard that a guy who was punching women was one of the arrested. Good idea to nab him!
Sorry to see this and hope we don't see it again. The crowd did seem to be a different mix than the last 2 years. Less old hippie-types, more young urban types, and plenty of Jersey in the house. Lots of full-time tour followers too it seemed. The easy-access location right off the Northeast's main traffic artery of I-95 made the festival more accessible to a wider geographic area.
Fashion at the Vibes
Tie dye is fading out this season. Madras and plaid shorts are making a strong showing especially for men and boys. And shorts and pants for guys with big multic-colored patchwork squares too, from Guatamala I think, are gaining fashion traction.
Camo is still happening but this will probably be the last season, unless some new camo colors arrive on the scene to freshen the look. Cargo pants for men and women are just too comfortable and practical to go out of style at music festivals, or anywhere you need a safe place for car keys, camera, phone, money, etc.
Strapless dresses are looking good on some women. There were surprisingly few new looks in head wear, just the same old baseball caps and straw hats. Afros are back in a small way, but this time on Caucasian men.The once ubiquitous bandana is slowing in popularity, but again, it's a useful item, and I think it won't vanish.
Transportation this year was easy if you had a wheeled device, unlike on the grassy rolling fields of Indian Lookout Country Club.The Seaside Park venue comprises an amazing 370 acres along the waterfront. Skateboards, long and short, were a handy form of transport along the 2 mile long seaside promenade, and there is a full-featured skate park by the beach too. Scooters, bikes, and a neat small electric trike all got people around in style. The people running the show raced around in their golf carts.
There were even Festival Cab golf carts with room for 6 passengers. Weary walkers could hop on and pay $1 to get where they're going. Just another example of the fact that the Vibe people are really good at running their show. This is the 12th year and they work at making it better and better. Props to Ken Hays, Jonathan Lobdell, and all their peeps for doing a great job again!
Beer and cigarettes are ubiquitous accessories at this show. Sometimes Ii's hard to get a breath of fresh air, even at the seaside. Non-smokers must jockey for spots where smoke is not shotgunning into our nostrils. A cigarette company was a sponsor this year. But only gave free packs of cigs to people who said they are already smokers. At least that was something. The show is so accessible that takeout pizza was seen. Certainly never in Mariaville.
Someone in the crowd flew a radio-controlled Frisbee or something like that after dark. It spun, with colored lights all around and looked like a real UFO. He was able to make it swoop below the big screen, and then hover right over our heads. It was the coolest thing ever. I must get one.
Hey, tomorrow night is the Perseid Meteor Showers, with up to 60 streaking shooting stars per hour. Hope for clear skies. The dark of the moon will help visibility.
Los Lobos' show ends at 8 p.m. tomorrow, and we know that the shows at Gathering of the Vibes run like clockwork. So you should be home, or well on the way in time to see the meteor shower.
Trying to decide whether to take your kids to a music festival?
Or "what to wear and bring?"
Or "am I too old to go to a music festival?"
Or "what will I eat if I don't eat wheat? Or don't feel like bringing a cooler with ice.?"
Or "what should I wear on my feet?
Or "how to stay dry in the pouring rain?"
Or "what if I don't feel like bringing food, or chairs? "What if I need shade?"
Or "how to have enough energy for dancing from midnight to 4 a.m.?
Or "what festival goers should carry at all times."
Or "what you must NEVER do at a music festival. If you do, you're day will surely be ruined.
Watch for the Festival Goers Guide that will answer these and other earth-shaking questions, and make your life perfect in every way. email Lauren@SnowboardSecrets.com for details.
Hey, I've got to level with you. After 2 very active days dancing and
running around at Gathering of the Vibes in
weather and cold rainy weather, I was ready for a chill day. And since I can
listen to the show in the comfort of my home on community radio station
where I'm hearing it today. (By the way,
where you can make a donation to this very excellent grassroots radio
station that is supported by its listeners, and has no ads.)
So, I'm not there now... you're not there now, we'll reconstruct the experience throught the music. I'm paying a lot more attention to the music for a sustained period of time than I would if I were there.
Kevin Hays & Friends Jazz Session opened the musical day with smoothness, to go with a Sunday morning cup of joe. The World Peace Prayer Society lead their annual peace prayer at noon. The audience held flags and repeated the list of all the countries in the world. See this touching moment as it appeared at last year's GOTV here: scroll down on http://www.snowboardsecrets.com/Articles/vibes06.htm
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band brought modern old fashioned New Orleans brassy funk to Bridgeport.
Martin Sexton is an all around multi-talented musician. My local radio station of choice, WFUV, Fordham University in the Bronx, plays his songs, but the ones they play are all kind of the same downbeat strumming. But in concert, this guy can be downright rowdy. And we love it.
Like Picasso, you don't realize his true artistic genius until you see what wide range of mastery he has.
In concert at Gathering of the Vibes, Martin Sexton and his band all showed their stuff. Along with the Sexton standards, they did a Johnny Cash cover, and a wild version of that Billy Preston song "Will it Go Around in a Circle." It launched into a jam, keyboard player and saxophonist from Deep Banana Blackout were in on it and funking it up righteously.
Jah-Jah and Jah-la. The Wailers gave us are old favorites like "Them Belly Full", "Lively Up Yourself," "Exodus," and "Get Up Stand Up" and they kept the arrangements fresh and new. There was a sing along on "No Woman No Cry." Rahstafari-Bless, until we meet again.
After the Wailer's breathtaking set, Wavy Gravy popped onto stage to announce that he had been "Rastah-fied" and was feeling fine, and would meet us over at the other stage for Buddy Guy. He just left the mike, and we heard dead air on the radio until WPKN chimed in from the studio.
We waited and waited, and heard a lot of other music on the radio, but not Buddy Guy. Where was he? Turns out his show was not broadcast on air, a licensing issue that we feared might also affect the Les Claypool and Ratdog shows, but in the end only affected Buddy Guy's.
Los Lobos covered the board in musical style-ations bouncing from Latin, to Zydeco to blues, and making the audience crazy along the way. As headline closing act they finished the Gathering of the Vibes on a high note that just makes us count the days until we can come back for another magical weekend of music and fun.
Props to Ken Hays, Jonathan, Terrapin, The Gathering of the Vibes Family, Radio Vibes, WPKN, and everybody else who made the magic happen.
the magic happen at the 12th Annual Gathering of the Vibes.