Gathering of the Vibes comes to Seaside Park in Bridgeport for its 15th year this Thursday

July 26th, 2010 8:56 pm ET

By Rob Staub, Fairfield County Performing Arts Examiner

The summer sun warms the rocks that you sit on as the cool water of the Long Island sound laps at your feet. Laughter blends into the rhythmic pulsing of the roots rock and reggae that tickles your ears and delights your senses. . .there is only one place where this apparent reverie could be reality: the Gathering of the Vibes music festival.

This week, Ken Hayes and his merry band of festival producers will grace Bridgeport’s Seaside Park with four days of music, crafts and camping. The festival is expected to attract almost 25,000 people to the park and will host a lineup of bands so varied that all can expect to be entertained. Mr Hayes spent a few minutes talking about where the festival has come from and what to expect. “Not in a million years would I have imagined that 15 years later I would be doing what I’m doing. . .it was something that started very organically with ‘Deadhead Heaven’ and it just kind of evolved. . .we started out by just having a party for all of our friends, and it was a seed that just blossomed. . .”

In the beginning, Mr Hayes and his friends had a concept both of celebrating the life and music of the late Jerry Garcia and to reunite with old friends that were accustomed to meeting on the Grateful Dead tour. Growing from a few thousand then to tens of thousands now, one might say that they were on to something 15 years ago. “Year after year, friends gather together at the Gathering of the Vibes. For many of them it’s the one time of the year that they get to hang out with each other. . .this has become an annual tradition for thousands of people… for them to be able do that on the shores of the Long Island sound at Seaside [park in Bridgeport] can be absolutely magical”

Over the years, the festival has hosted many great artists from Crosby, Stills and Nash to all the surviving members of the Grateful Dead.

This year there are a lot of great new artists being featured on the stages of the ‘Vibes. : “You’ve got to poke around to really find something that is truly inspiring and that is really engaging and creative.” Hayes says. . .”There’s a lot of packaged music out there, but if you really poke around you’ll be able to find something that will really inspire you. . .especially in this internet age, it’s sometimes hard to find something that you can latch on to.”

Of the thousands of acts that submit to be a part of the festival, Mr. Hayes is certainly excited about a few. . .”I’m really excited to check out Damian Marley and Nas. . .I love what they did with their new album. When people think ‘Nas’ they think, as I did initially. . .is this hardcore gangster rap? What’s the deal? I read his lyrics, and he’s got a unique style, and it can be open for mis-interpretation. With the new album and Damian playing some of his Dad’s stuff, it’s really soulful and inspiring. These guys are really trying to break new ground and they are doing something that is creative and fresh. I’m excited about Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and it’s going to be great to see Little Feat again. I’m pleased about the way the lineup came together. . .and you know that we’re doing late night with Mix Master Mike from the Beastie Boys. It’s important for us to branch out and turn people on to things that they would not normally see.” Also featured this year will be Jacki Greene, Robert Randolf and the Family Band, Furthur featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, Umphrey’s McGee, Primus and Jimmy Cliff
as well as many other local favorites and rising stars.hen a festival like this returns to a particular community year after year, it becomes a part of the community. One very large part of the Gathering of the Vibes’ is it’s outreach to the Bridgeport community in a charitable way. Each year, the festival has organized donations of non-perishable food to the local food bank. Last year, the festival heped to collect and donate over 7,500 pounds of food.

“Giving back is important. This year we’ve donated about $75,000 to build a water
park that will hopefully be up and functioning in the next few weeks. This went directly to the Parks Development fund. I’m hoping that this becomes a win-win for
the park, the community and the festival”

For Bridgeport Residents that want to attend, they can now access tickets by simply show photo ID proving that they are a resident. They should go to the Bluefish Stadium Lafayette parking lot, and they will be ticketed for the entire weekend at a discounted price of $75. Residents will receive a weekend pass, exclusive of camping.
This year in addition to the great music, generous charity, and the spirit of togetherness, Mr. Hayes hopes for “Sunshine and smiling faces!”

The festival runs from Thursday through Sunday at Seaside Park in Bridgerport.
For a complete listing of artists, and to purchase tickets, visit:


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