An Interview with Gathering Of The Vibes Founder Ken Hays

What do The String Cheese Incident, Wilco, Ben Harper, Weezer, Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Grateful Dead drummer Billy Kreutzmann and camping at an awesome location on the beach all have in common? You got it, this year’s Gathering Of The Vibes. We caught up with festival founder Ken Hays for a Q&A. Like a proud papa, Hays beamed when he talked about this year’s festival, which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary at Seaside Park in Connecticut.

Are there any special memories in particular over the last 20 years?

There are so many; that’s a tough question. A couple of years back when Jane’s Addiction performed and had the flying girls onstage was certainly a first at the Vibes. I thought it was spectacular. I think it’s important that we continue to showcase musicians and bands of all genres, and this year’s no different. Weezer falls in line with the incredibly talented group of musicians that I’m thrilled to expose to those who don’t already know who they are.

What act are you looking forward to seeing most at this year’s fest?

I’m looking forward to seeing String Cheese Incident with David Grisman and Peter Rowan do some Jerry stuff as well as their own music as well. String Cheese will do a couple of sets, and it should be a great party on Friday night. They’ll do a set with David and Peter first, then they’ll do their own thing.

How did the Warren Haynes collaboration with Branford Marsalis, Jackie Greene and Joe Russo come about?

            We wanted to put something together that is distinctly Vibes. Warren has been with us off and on since 1997, and when we pitched it to him, he was immediately excited about the possibilities. Together, we developed the band, and this will be something incredibly special for Saturday night.

Any chance of an Allman Brothers reunion since practically all of the members, including Gregg, Jaimoe, Warren and Derek Trucks, will be playing the fest with their own bands over the weekend?

            That’s something that happens organically. If different members are in the house, it’s up to them. We pride ourselves in setting the stage and letting it happen.

Will Billy Kreutzmann be joined by anyone in his set with Billy & The Kids?

Billy’s rockin’ it these days. He’s excited to be banging on the drums, having fun and making great music. He’s certainly earned that space, and it’s awesome to have him back.

Are there any other things going on for people that want to take a break from the music?

Whether it’s going down to the beach for swimming or checking out the nonprofit world, Kids Corner & Teen Scene, or hopping on the Ferris wheel for a spin, there’s lots going on.

Is the fest kid-friendly?

Last year we had 2,300 kids under the age of 15 and tons of activities, including the School of Rock stage and face painting for kids of all ages. We have family camping space that is reserved just for them and no smoking areas as well. Now we’re at a point where we have three generations of families coming for the weekend, and that’s something that’s truly unique about the vibes!


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