By Kelsey Levenick and Steven Philips
Paradise waits, just one day ’til gates. Then it’s four days of great music, camping, and being with friends in Seaside Part, Bridgeport, CT. One of the best main stage concert fields in the country. The second stage (Green Vibes) is right on the water, and hosts sets all day and most of the night. Spectacular sunrises are the norm here. There’s the School of Rock stage, the silent disco, roving musicians popping up, a ferris wheel, great vendors and dining areas, everything you could ask for. Let’s get this party started!
This time last year, I had the opportunity to speak with Gathering of the Vibes founder Ken Hays. 20 years ago he imagined a festival that would reunite Grateful Dead fans to show love and respect to their late musical leader Jerry Garcia. What started a simple celebration of Deadheads has grown into a nationally recognized, large-scale musical gathering for these Heads as well as all lovers of different music alike. I was again fortunate to speak with Ken, this time right after the iconic 50th Anniversary of The Grateful Dead.
Everyone is talking about it- Grateful Dead 50th anniversary. What are your personal reflections on the final shows? Can we expect to see any special commemorations of GD50 at the Vibes?
Chicago was amazing. Musically of course, but the energy was incredible. There will be many surprises and fantastic collaborations at the Vibes again this year. Thursday we have Dark Star Orchestra with Melvin Seals as a special guest. Friday night String Cheese Incident will be joined by David Grisman and Peter Rowan, both friends of Jerry Garcia. Saturday night after Wilco, we have the Vibes 20th Year Anniversary Spectacular featuring Warren Haynes and the Seaside Allstars. And that’s just the beginning.
Speaking of anniversaries, looking back would you ever have expected this festival to turn 20 years old?
Never in a million years. It has been an incredible ride and I couldn’t be happier with each turnout. Here’s to 20 more!
Roughly 20,000-25,000 people attend GOTV each year. What are you expecting the turnout to be like this year?
With ticket sales where they are, we are expecting around there. We’re very excited to have Seaside Park be filled to the shoreline once again.
Seaside Park is the most beautiful venue around. Not that it needs any at all, but have there been any changes or additions to it?
This year we have musical instruction where local, talented musicians give interested kids the chance to play and learn to play instruments. We are all so excited about offering this to kids; anything to give them an alternative to TV and video games. And Sunday is family day where kids 15 and under receive free admission. That being said, for the most part we have kept it all the same. Everyone loves the setup so we are very excited to keep it that way.
The lineup never disappoints either. Are there any repeat bands or newcomers that you are especially excited to have on the lineup this year? Basically, where can I expect to find you in the crowd this year?
I’ll be around. Thursday is the busy day: making sure everyone is smiling and gets settled in smoothly. I have an incredible team. But as far as acts go; Tedeschi Trucks band, Billy and the Kids, Weezer, all really talented musicians that are really going to make this year very special.