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Published: 2009/07/27

Live from the Vibes Days 1 and 2: moe., Deep Banana Blackout, Strangefolk and Donna Jean

Relix and report live from Bridgeport, CT
The 14th annual Gathering of the Vibes kicked off Thursday night at

Bridgeport, CTs Seaside Park. The multi-day event was originally
known as Deadhead Heaven-A Gathering of The Vibes and continues to
place special emphasis on the music of the Grateful Dead. Thursday
nights offering celebrated that spirit with marquee performances by
Dark Star Orchestra and the Donna Jean Godchaux Band. The former group
has played the Gathering of the Vibes four times since 2004, while
Godchaux has been a Vibes staples since her first appearance at the
festival in 2005. Her guitaristZen Tricksters frontman Jeff
Mattsonis one of the few musicians to play the festival each year
since its inception.
Dark Star Orchestras headlining set was cut short due to inclement
weather, though Godchaux was able to join the lauded Grateful Dead
tribute act for a few songs. The evenings late night
entertainmentthe Pink Floyd cover band The Machinecontinued on as
planned, marking the first time Gathering of the Vibes has hosted late
night music at its current location.
The sun peaked out early Friday morning, and the days entertainment
began at noon with Vibes veteran King for a Day. Fridays schedule
welcomed back several classic Gathering of the Vibes performers,
including moe., Strangefolk and Deep Banana Blackout. Strangefolk and
moe. both appeared at the inaugural Gathering of the Vibes in 1996 and
Deep Banana Blackout has been a staple since the festivals second
year. Backstage before his set moe. guitarist Al Schnier emphasized
the sense of community at that inaugural event, as a generation of
players weaned on The Dead and thrust into the spotlight in wake of
H.O.R.D.E. shared the stage for the first time. Likewise, Strangefolk
continued its Vibes tradition of covering Grateful Dead songs by
busting out Candyman, while Deep Banana Blackout paid an emotional
tribute to its past Vibes collaborator Merl Saunders and nodded to the
40th anniversary of Woodstock with a Santana jam.
In addition, Keller Williams made his fifth appearance at the
festival, this time with Keith Moseley, Gibb Droll and Jeff
Sipe. The quartet offered a cover-heavy set that referenced both Phish
(Birds of a Feather) and the Grateful Dead (a take on Eyes of the
World featuring bonus vocals from Godchaux). The day also featured
afternoon sets by New Groove Jammy winners Cornmeal and Spin Doctors
singer Chris Barron on the eco-friendly Green Vibes Stage.
moe. returned to Gathering of the Vibes for the first time since 2000
to close the evenings mainstage festivities. But, after running
through a few classics like Not Coming Down, Wormwood, Stranger
than Fiction, St. Augustine, Mexico and Hi & Lo, the groups
set was cut short due to the threat of lighting. Fans were asked to
return to their cars as an intense lighting storm hit the festival
grounds, but the music resumed shortly after 1 AM in time for
Lettuces late night set.

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