After the recent Fare Thee Well shows proved to be a staple in rock music history, many of our beloved VibeTribe members returned to the East Coast. Fans were honored to have taken part in such a memorable concert, yet vacant with the acceptance of no future Grateful Dead shows. Instead of attempting to relive each memory of this Fourth of July weekend through DVDs and blurry phone photos, Bridgeport’s Gathering of the Vibes is aiming to put you back in that same musical trance come July 30, with a lineup that’s sure to re-energize your dancing shoes. In honor of a great weekend celebration, here are five acts you need to see this Vibes, some of them hailing from our homeland of New York.
1) Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings- Friday @ 2:45pm on the Main Stage
If you haven’t already heard this ten-member ensemble tear up each live show they play, imagine hopping into a time machine and popping back out in the 1960’s. With a strong female personality similar to Diana Ross and Tina Turner, Sharon Jones dominates the stage with her brass-like powerhouse of a voice. Before she even makes a grand entrance on stage, her backing band The Dap Kings deliver tight and evenly voiced big band arrangements that could stand on their own as an ensemble. Signed to Daptone Records in Brooklyn, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings have released a variety of EPs and studio albums, most recently completing the album Give The People What They Want in 2014 using analog recording to achieve their authentic sound . Despite their success in physical sales, their extensive touring has given them notoriety as a band you just have to see live. As their songwriting style continues to blossom, they continue to grace the stage at Gathering of the Vibes for fans of all ages. As we wait with great excitement for their return to Vibes Main Stage, have a listen to the title track from their 2007 album 100 Days, 100 Nights.
2) Moon Hooch- Saturday @ 2:45pm on the Green Vibes Stage
We’ve all heard the classic story of a band starting from subways and working their way up to super stardom. In this episode, saxophonists Wenzl McGowen and Mike Wilbur and drummer James Muschler team up to form a trio while studying at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. From there, their performances in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and various subway stations gain the attention of Soul Coughing’s Mike Doughty, who later takes them on tour. They later go on to open for Galactic, and release two albums defining their unique sound as “cave music.” Their use of outside instruments, such as cardboard or traffic cones, is what bridges their dancey house music with the raw rhythms of the New York City streets. While they only have released two full-length albums, they have developed a brand that remains true to their sound and origin. In their first self-titled album, you can see a train with dancing feet as their album artwork, and a variety of their songs are named after numbers, in the same manner as an NYC subway. With such a distinct sound from only three members, Moon Hooch certainly secures a spot for bands you have to see live to believe. Here’s a track from their first album, entitled “Number 9.”
3) Banooba- Thursday @ 1:30pm on the Green Vibes Stage
There’s no doubt that this next group has a bit of wanderlust, and it’s not because of their first album title Banooba’s Travels. After a series of setbacks, including the tragic death of their guitarist and fairly recent departing of their lead singer, Banooba has continued their legacy of genre-bending arrangements that bring all types of music lovers together. With use of reggae, funk, and jazz sensibilities, these five piece band has been compared to Sublime, Incubus, and Steely Dan. With an established batch of musicians, Banooba has completed several tours across the Northeast, Costa Rica, the UK and the US Virgin Islands. As they grace the Green Vibes Stage at this year’s Vibes, make sure you join them on the musical adventure that unites people of every country (and music taste, for that matter). In the meantime, give a listen to the track that brought them on Sirius XM’s Jam On Station, entitled “Sinora.”
4) Turkuaz- Saturday @ 6:15pm on the Green Vibes Stage
Some funk bands are a lot like college roommates- you start off with just one, but after a while you realize it’s much more efficient to add more to the mix. Next thing you know, you have 9 roommates, or you have Turkuaz. Starting out as a small ensemble of two in Boston, guitarist Dave Brandwein and bassist Taylor Ward Shell moved to Brooklyn to bring funk to NYC, while adding some new band mates along the way. Now as a 9-piece funk entourage, Turkuaz has recorded and released a self-titled first album, two studio albums, two live albums, and one cover album to show off their versatility as an ensemble. Their sound is modeled after Sly & The Family Stone, Rick James, and Earth, Wind & Fire, and they have the full set of equipment and musicians to match. Their most recent studio album Future 86 features a plethora of memorable tunes, such as “Bubba Slide,” “Club Foot,” and the title track of the album, “Future 86.”
5) Warren Haynes- Saturday @ 11:45pm on the Main Stage
As a respected veteran of Gathering of the Vibes past and present, Warren Haynes is greeted with open arms as this year’s headlining act. His contribution to the Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule, and Phil Lesh & Friends are unparalleled, and his ability as bandleader as well as a supporting musician has granted him extraordinary opportunities. His 2011 release of Man In Motion features an array of songs demonstrating his independent vocal abilities separate from his mastery of guitar. His influences of Eric Clapton and Otis Redding have shaped his sound to a southern soul with a dash of blues. In anticipation for his new album with Railroad Earth, entitled Ashes & Dust, you can find a preview below of his new song “Beat Down The Dust.” When he’s not working on his own musical projects, he has been featured in a variety of shows and compilations with Dave Matthews and Blues Traveler. Despite his generation-spanning success as a solo artist, featured guest and band member, he is also heavily involved in giving back, through his creation of Xmas Jam, which gives proceeds to Habitat For Humanity.
Joined by a team titled “The Seaside All-Stars”, he will grace the Vibes Main Stage along with jazz saxophonist Brandford Marsalis, Jackie Greene from the Black Crowes, founder of The Meters and legendary bassist George Porter Jr., and Joe “The Madness” Russo with Marco Benevento from the Benevento Russo duo. It’s not often you get a group like this together, so it’s certainly not a performance you want to miss. You can, however, get warmed up earlier in the day when Warren Haynes makes his first performance with Railroad Earth at 7:30pm on the Main Stage. As a reoccurring Vibes artist, there’s no telling what tricks he has up his sleeve for this year.
And there you have it: five artists to see live, twenty years to celebrate, and four days to take it all in. While there’s no guarantee of an Empire State Building light show, we can guarantee a well-lit stage and a variety of new and returning acts that’ll bring you the same energy you submerged in at Soldier Field. So don’t worry Deadheads, Vibes is only 23 days away, so get yourself packed and we’ll see you there.