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Published: 2001/07/08
by Dan Greenhaus

Gathering of the Vibes, Red Hook, NY 6/29-July 1

Great Music and a Whole Lotta Rain-A Gathering Review

Let me preface this review of the weekend with a
disclaimer: Everyone felt a different way about the
weekend. This is merely my interpretation of a hectic
weekend of "Rain and Music".

Friday:
I was lucky enough, after sitting in traffic for two
miles and two hours, to get caught in the weekend's
first downpour. I hadn't even gotten on the bus to be
brought over to the camping site, which was about a
half mile away. As unfortunate as it was, it did save
us from missing part of the Disco Biscuits. Luckily
for my friend Marshall and I, we were lucky to find a
spot near the front of the campsite, which was set up
like a small city: divided up with paths named after
streets (i.e. Shakedown St. Golden Rd. etc.) Very
cool idea which made finding friends easier than it
would've been. Finally, after a lengthy period of
time setting up in the mud, we headed over the the
mud-soaked field which was directly adjacent to the
camping site.

After milling about for a little while, checking out
the stores and the food, the crowd's excitement
heightened as Merl Saunders took the stage to begin
the first night of music with a brief, but fantastic
set from Merl and his funky friends. Their 25 min set
dissapointed many in attendance, however sets from two
more fantastic bands seemed to keep the crowd's
displeasure in check. As I have never seen the Disco
Biscuits myself, I didnt know what to expect since I
find there are as many people who do not like them as
do. With that in mind, let me say this: I will never
miss another Disco Biscuits show again. I was overly
impressed during several sections of the set,
specifically "Above the Waves" and "Bring Your Ass to
the Party". As well, the jam that ended the set
incited the crowd to cheer on at least three different
occasions, with the final cheer being one of the
loudest all weekend. Following the Biscuits was the
eagerly anticipated set from Les Claypool. Again, I
have never seen him live before, as many had not, but
he managed to win over the entire crowd with an
amazing set that included "Shine On" by Pink Floyd,
which was done in typical Les fashion. By the time
Les finished, the crowd was in a frenzy, however that
was to be the last of the music for the night.

Saturday:
Robert Randolph was the first group to draw a crowd on
saturday. Gorgeous weather and a fantastic band
line-up had many feeling as though this was going to
be the best day of music, and Robert got things off on
the right foot with his jaw-dropping pedal steel
guitar playing. His infectious, funky originals had
everyone dancing during his entire set. He left to a
rousing ovation that was well deserved. The
Mardi-Gras parade and Wild Magnolias had many
highlights, although, due to lack of name recognition
did not draw too big of a crowd, which was unfortuante
since both played good sets of music. However, the
crowd returned for the Tom Tom Club and all following
bands, which was an All-Star line up. Tom Tom played
a great set with two highlights: Sand (phish) which
Tina Weymouth dedicated to the band and, perhaps one
of the best songs of the weekend, the set-closing
"Take me to the River". Played perfectly, the groove
and familiar vocals had, literally everyone, dancing
and singing. Following Tom Tom Club was the
blues-rock of Blue Floyd. The band, a favorite of
mine, which contains rock all-stars, wailed Pink Floyd
for an hour, to the collective excitement of the
crowd. Set highlights included a rocking Young Lust.
Blue Floyd was followed by stellar sets of music by
both Max Creek and Stangefolk. Max Creek are
jamband-veterans and showed why they've been drawing
crowds for thirty years, and Strangefolk's new lineup
is just as potent as the old, although Im not a fan of
either line-up.
And then, just as DBB were taking the stage, the rain
came, breaking everyone's hearts. Washing out DBB's
set and Steve Kimock's set, it threatened to cost us
the the thirty year jam which was the reason that many
came. Returning to the campsite, many stayed hopeful
even as the daylight dwindled into evening. Then,
around 11:30 at night, word filtered around the
half-asleep campsite that the jam was going to go on
around 12 or so. Finally, when Blue Floyd and Ray
Manzerek took the stage, the crowd erupted in a
frenzy, half for the band, and half for any music at
all. Playing "Break on Through", "Light My Fire" and
"Roadhouse Blues" the band tore through Doors songs,
giving them a fresh "jamming" feel that other bands
cannot provide. Although many were dissapointed with
the short appearance of Ray Manzerek, they were
quickly distracted when the amazing and beautiful Jen
Durkin took the stage to tribute Janis. Making a
comment about how people have been begging her to sing
Janis for a while, she leapt into "Bobby Mcgee". With
an amazing voice and fantastic stage presence, she
brought the house down. To close the night, Buddy
Miles was brought out to tribute Jimi Hendrix. Buddy
was the drummer in Jimi's second band, The Band of
Gypsys. Jimi used to complain that Buddy would sing
too much and we all could see why. Milking every last
minute of stage time, Buddy sang and "scooby-doo'd"
his way through "Voodoo Chile", "Red House" and "Them
Changes". Frequently causing songs to go on way too
long, Buddy did not go over extremely well with the
crowd, but still endeared himself with his playful
manner, great drum playing and genuine happiness to be
there.

Sunday
Impending rain cost us the Gospel Choir's set starring
Jen Durkin, which was moved to the side stage, however
the Zen Trickers quickly had everyone forgeting what
they were missing. Opening up with "Shakedown
Street", their dead-influenced jamming had everyone
moving first thing in the sun-drenched morning.
Closing with China Cat—>Rider, the crowd cheered so
loudly that they had a hard time leaving the stage.
Stellar jamming, a great setlist and no rain allowed
the Ticksters to play one of the two best sets of
music during the weekend. Following the Tricksters,
which was not an easy task, was Dickey Betts, formerly
of the Allman Brothers. Playing a blues influenced
set, Dickey wailed through new originals and Allman
favorites such as "Jessica". Following his set came
the last downpour, which in addition to costing us
Soulive, a heavily anticipated band, sent many fans
home for good, as the prospect of sitting in more rain
was too much for many to bear. But again, music saved
the day. Moving Uncle Sammy from the side stage to a
barn, yes, a barn, Uncle Sammy played a much-needed
two and a half hour set of music with no PA. Mind
you, most bands would fold with no vocals, however
Sammy seems to thrive and actually won over many new
fans, something I've expected for a while now as they
are, arguably, the best young band around. Covering
Weather Report's "Teen Town" to perfection is just one
of the many treats we were given by the band. Bruce
Hornsby began our return to the main stage playing a
twenty minute sound check that on it own, was
incredible. "Just the Way it Is" followed an unamed
song to the delight of everyone. After one of more
song, Bruce Hornsby left the stage to a thrilled crowd
that was blown away by his talent and skill. The John
Scofield band followed and, in my opinion, played the
best set of music we had heard all weekend. Mixing
jazz and funk perfectly, John had the whole crowd,
what was left, dancing in the think pool of mud we
were forced to stand in. Medeski, Martin and Wood,
the most eagerly anticipated act of the weekend,
showed all who did not know, exactly why they are the
best at what they do. Grooving with an ease other
bands only dream of, they flowed seamlessly through
jazz, funk and rock. They were joined by Bruce
Hornsby for one song which, although unreheased,
jammed as well as any song played all weekend. Bruce
left just in time to allow John Scofield to take the
stage to perform a song off the quartets acclaimed
album together, "A-Go-Go". If anyone does not have
this album, I beg you to go out and get it as it is
one of the most essential albums in our genre. For
ten minutes, the four musicians had everyone
forgetting about the drama from the last three days
and just concentrating on the fantastic groove. And
just when it looked as though they were getting ready
to really let loose, Buddy Miles came out to play a
festival closing blues-song. Although the song was
good, it paled in comparison to the two previous
songs, leaving the crowd booing without an encore.

So this was the story of the whole weekend: Just when
it seemed it was getting going, it fell a litte short. I had a great weekend, but I do not fault anyone who
could not get past the rain, mud and other
"annoyances" that plagued the festival. In some ways,
the GOTV was everything that is right in our scene.
Peace, good vibes and people helping people could be
found everywhere. But at the same time, I found many
people to be there for other reasons than the music

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