This year’s Gathering of the Vibes electrified Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The familiarity of Vibes is always refreshing and this live music experience truly vibrates on a frequency of its own. The four-day festival stays close to the Grateful Dead’s legacy, and this year’s celebration even coincided with Jerry Garcia’s birthday on August 1!

Although this was the first time since 2004 that neither Phil Lesh nor Bob Weir was present at Vibes, many acts paid homage to the Dead and to Jerry. On Friday, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass performed Dead classics with a unique bluegrass twist. Later that day, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, playing live for only the third time, put on a killer show that incorporated the JGB classic “Magnificent Sanctuary Band.” Then, late on Saturday night, Grateful Dead members Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann performed with The Disco Biscuits and played an extremely Dead-heavy set that included an a capella version of “We Bid You Goodnight” with a full choir ensemble as the encore. 

Stanley Jordan was the artist-in-residence this year and performed with Dumpstaphunk, Umphrey’s McGee, Deep Banana Blackout, Kung Fu, Maceo Parker and Dispatch throughout the weekend. Taking the main stage at 8:30 on Friday, classic rocker John Fogerty was full of energy and his voice sounded as good as it did in the 1960s. Widespread Panic took the main stage at 9:30 on Saturday and drew a huge crowd …  Jimmy Herring is a beast! Of course, it was fun seeing Slightly Stoopid and moe., both of whom have played at HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cups this past year.  

The amount of good music at Vibes was epic, and with two stages at either end, wandering back and forth between shows and chatting with vendors was half the fun. We look forward to next year’s 20th anniversary of Vibes, knowing it’s a guaranteed great time.