Gathering of the Vibes

 

For many music fans, when Grateful Dead founder, singer and guitarist Jerry Garcia died on August 9, 1995, it was the day that the music—and the band’s never-ending touring party—died. For Deadhead Ken Hays, it turned out to be the birth of what started as a loving tribute and has become one of the premier summer music festivals in the nation.  

Wanting to honor Garcia, Hays brought together 3,500 other Deadheads for a love-peace-and-music fest a year later at SUNY in Purchase, N.Y. Originally called “Deadhead Heaven: A Gathering of the Tribe,” it soon became simply known as “Gathering of the Vibes,” and like the Dead themselves, happily kept truckin' around various venues in the tri-state area before finding a home in 2007 at Bridgeport’s Seaside Park, where it has been every summer since.

The festival—now a four-day, multistage event—regularly draws 20,000 tie-dyed fans per day (many of whom even camp out for the duration). It also pumps millions of dollars into the local economy and has been a great opportunity to showcase the Park City's burgeoning arts and entertainment scene. Unlike many other major concert festivals that tend to get loud, raucous and commercial, however, the Vibes’ vibe continues to stay mellow; it’s a family-friendly event, where kids run barefoot and attendees have flowers painted on their faces.

Past headliners have included the other founding members of the Grateful Dead (of course!) as well as many top acts, ranging all over the musical spectrum—Elvis Costello, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Allman Brothers Band, James Brown, The Black Crowes, Bruce Hornsby, Jimmy Cliff and Buddy Guy.

This year’s festival kicks off July 31 and no doubt the love, like the Vibes itself, will continue to grow.         

- Ray Bendici

 

Gathering of the Vibes

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