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Gathering of the Vibes Review and Photos - 2005
The Gathering of the Vibes music festival was held August 12, 13, and 14th,
2005 outside of Albany, NY
This was one of the best outdoor festivals I can imagine. I attended the
2005 gig at Indian Lookout Country Club, in Mariaville (near Duanesburg, NY,
outside of Albany.) It turns out the location is a magical place. Rolling
grassy meadows and hills, with a view if you walk to the top of the hill. Very
little mud or dust. And a happy energy vortex where cool things happen by
themselves and you meet the people you are meant to meet.
For example, I had just ONE friend going to Gathering of the Vibes. I called
him as I was driving onto the property, and a couple of times after, but we
could never seem to get together easily. The next day, I was standing
looking around, and I turned, and who was standing looking around RIGHT next
to me - my missing pal Paul!
Everybody was friendly and I met fun people to hang out with. And then I
would mysteriously bump into those same fun people again when it was time
for us to hang out together. And this is in a group of maybe15,000 people!
I've been to the mega-party "Burning Man" in the Nevada desert 3 times, and
I enjoyed Gathering of the Vibes more. Seems like a nicer, more mellow, less
competitive and more accepting crowd of people. And the grassy tree-lined
campground for Gathering had it all over camping on the dusty barren desert
And did I mention the music? Of course that was the main reason (or excuse)
for this gathering. There was great live music playing onstage most of each
day. On Fri. and Saturday the music played on the main stage from 11 a.m.
until 1 a.m, then there was the late set that went until after 2 a.m. Some of
the camping is within earshot of the music, and some is not. But it was
piped onto a low frequency radio station so if you wanted to chill at your
camp, you could still hear the party.
Big crowd-pleaser bands in the line-up included; The Zen Tricksters, Bob
Weir and Ratdog, John Brown's Body, The Jazz Mandolin Project, Keller
Williams, Deep Banana Blackout (reunited!), Dark Star Orchestra, The New
Deal, Railroad Earth, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood featuring John Scofield.
Under the VIP tent
The weather held out pretty well. The exception was when a sprinkle of rain
quickly turned into a torrent during Ratdog's 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. show Friday
night, but "The Music Never Stopped."
The sky cleared, and the party continued for those not stowed in their
tents. There was some rain Sunday afternoon too. You just can't have a music
festival in upstate NY in August without some rain. Remember Woodstock? Or
at least the movie?
Saturday night was a musical extravaganza par excellence with the 5-hour
Jerry Garcia Tribute that never lagged. The songs that were played probably
make this one of the best shows of all time. Dark Star Orchestra supplied
the sound of the Dead, and many special guests flew in from Cali to sit in.
The show started with Peter Rowan playing some of his greatest songs. Then
Melvin Seals, one of Jerry Garcia's favorite keyboard players and his two
lady singers. Donna Godchaux, David Nelson, Tom "TC" Constanten who played
keyboard for the Dead alongside Pigpen from 1968 to 1970, Fuzz from Deep
Banana Blackout, and more.
This was one of the best organized events I've ever attended. Aside from a
Bonnaroo length entrance-gate snafu where some people waited up to 4 or 5
hours to complete the pre-entry process, everything else seemed to run like
clockwork. The slow entry is due to the fact that all cars are routinely
searched by the staff for contraband (glass, fireworks, mass quantities of
drugs). The stage shows clicked off one after another, without those
annoying delays between shows that can send the audience scattering.
A festival like this has plenty of varied activity, so you're never bored.
Walk around, hear live music on the stage, hear impromptu live music in the
campground, visit the vendors and shop, eat food that you've prepared or
bought from the vendors. Chill, sleep, play Frisbee in the meadow, take a
shower, visit the mist tent. Plenty to keep you well-occupied for three
days. This is a kid-friendly environment, and over 500 kids under the age of
12 were safe and secure and having a great time checking out the Kid's
Corner booth while their parents socialized nearby with other parents and
listened to the music.
Chilling at the campsite
Ken Hays is the impresario who successfully started it all and runs the
Gathering of the Vibes. We talked to him the day after the show, and he
sounded exhausted but exultant at the great success and happy vibe that went
down at his show. He said "Other than the logistical problem getting people
in, once we got people in and settled it was the cleanest, most
family-oriented most community minded Vibes we've ever had. It was the
perfect size - if you have too many people you lose the intimacy. The size
this year was perfect. Musically across the board, all the bands stepped up
and that's really something when you put some unknown bands up in front of
thousands of people."
Regarding the VIP area, where concert-goers have the option of paying an
extra $150 for enhanced comfort and services (including food and drink) over
the 3 days, Hays said "We had the VIP area in 2002 and 2003, and again this
year, and it always sells out. I know there were a lot of happy people under
that tent, especially when the rains came Friday night. It seems it was
everything they wanted. We choose not to sell more VIP tickets than is
comfortable. We want to keep it intimate and make sure everyone feels that
they're being taken care of."
Security onsite is done by the Indian Lookout Country Club crew and Harley
Rendezvous. Ken Hays says "They do a couple of other shows a year. This is a
beautiful site with tons of infra- structure. We're very pleased to have
completed our 4th show, and incredibly grateful to them for making sure
everyone was having a great time."