By Scott Hayes
Hartford Jazz Examiner
They may not all be on the same stage at the same time in Bridgeport this weekend (July 31-August 3) at the 19th annual Gathering of the Vibes music festival, but John Fogerty, Ziggy Marley, Stanley Jordan and Maceo Parker all will be performing at the 2014 Seaside Park splash.
The four musicians who represent disparate genres ranging from reggae to jazz, soul to rock 'n' roll, depict the variation in the vibes that will be pulsating from three different stages, across an open field of party-goers, through campground areas wafting over the lapping waves of Long Island Sound.
Then again, in the summer heat of the moment, one never knows what Gathering of the Vibes may hold in store for the masses (estimated at more than 20,000 each day) in attendance. Last year at the Gathering, Government Mule guitarist extraordinaire Warren Haynes filled the role of troubadour, joining other artists during their sets, sitting in with Vermont virtuouso Grace Potter and her blues band, the Nocturnals, to pay tribute to songwriter J.J. Cale, who passed away the weekend of the 2013 festival. Haynes appeared on stage with Potter prior to his band's two-hour set, and also joined Phil Lesh & Friends during the marathon, four-hour closing set on Saturday of last year. Saxophonist Bill Evans, hired by Miles Davis in 1980 as a 22-year-old musician, was last year's designated roving musical guest, assisting and jamming with Lesh and Friends throughout a full day of music. Jordan will fulfill that same role as an "artist at large" over two days of this year's festival.
Fogerty, of course, was the heart and soul of rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival. Ziggy Marley has a direct bloodline to Bob Marley and the Wailers, Maceo Parker gained renown as James Brown's sax player, and Stanley Jordan stands on his own merit after a career that began backing his professional peer group through the 1970s, when fusion groups were the jazz rave. Along the way, Jordan became a solo jazz force as a bassist who could carry the lead role usually occupied by guitarists, keyboardists and and sax front men.
The real beauty of the Gathering of the Vibes is the wide assortment and the volume of the music over four days (16 stage sets on Thursday alone) that goes on around and in between the main acts -- late night (more like through the night) stage jams by Deep Banana Blackout, a local favorite featuring singer Jen Durkin, Dopapod, Digital Machine and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe (the latter two on Saturday late, late night).
The festival opens Thursday at noontime when Banooba kicks off the event with a Green Vibes stage performance along the waterfront. Main Stage action begins at 4 p.m. Thursday with the Cosmic Dust Bunnies, followed by Ryan Montbleau & Friends at 5:30 and Strangefolk at twilight, 7:30 p.m. Dark Star Orchestra, a Grateful Dead Tribute band that is a festival favorite, returns to fill the same 9 p.m.-1 a.m. final set slot on the first day as it did in 2013. Dark Star performs based on a selected set list from one of the Grateful Dead's 30 years of extensive tour concerts, much to the delight of the crowd as the gathering of concert-goers, campers, artists, vendors, volunteers and support staff assemble and bring the first of four days to life. Music continues into early Friday morning with Dopapod filling a Late Night time slot on the Green Vibes Stage, away from the expansive campground areas available throughout Seaside Park.
Music resumes Friday at 11 a.m. on two different stages. Fogerty plays Friday night at 8:30 p.m. on the Main Stage. Parker plays Sunday at noon at the same location, and Marley takes the Main Stage at 4 p.m. Sunday. Where Jordan pops up is anybody's guess, but his presence will enhance whomever and whatever type of music is being played when he steps on stage. He's that versatile.
For a full listing of artists, ticket information, festival rules and guidelines visit govibes.com