By Kevin Alan Lamb
Through the night I traveled with my best friend and partner in crime, the Postman, to cover a music festival founded over 20 years ago to celebrate the essential principles of peace and love. Our second festival in as many weeks permitted little turnaround-time before driving 687 miles East, to Seaside Park, for the Gathering of the Vibes. While the rest of the world slept we outran the anxiety in our heads, confirmed interviews for the coming days, and burned fervently on the caffeine, dreams, and love in our hearts.
We crossed the George Washington Bridge alive and inline with our purpose, while the city lights filled our eyes with a heavy pour of just what living is. After 11 hours on the road, sweet dreams and sleep would be the final destination for some; but we’re not your average storytellers: A 5am arrival meant just enough time to capture the 5:45 sunrise from Penfield Beach. We stood along the coast where the ocean meets the stand while the rising sun filled our souls with comfort and hope in the Vibes to come.
Birthday parties begin with an invitation, and this 20th birthday celebration was no different. My sister Lauren, her husband Brian, and my niece Fallon live in Fairfield, CT., 10 minutes from the coastal venue in Bridgeport. Before I even knew what the Gathering of the Vibes was, my sister learned that I was gaining access to festivals as media, and invited me to stay with her and spend some quality time with my seven-month-year-old niece. The day I applied for credentials, my request was granted: This is a Good Sign.
Good vibes and Good Signs go hand-in-hand. This four-day-fest featured a heavy-hitting lineup of locals, legends, and legions of the light. Throughout the weekend we had the pleasure of interviewing Nattali Rize & Notis, Relative Souls, Ryan Montbleau, The Brummy Brothers, Moon Hooch, Turkuaz, Deep Banana Blackout, Jen Durkin, and Trevor Hall.
The world continues to realize that music is the best form of entertainment. It provides a platform for people to share space, energy, and commonality in their mutual love and admiration for the music that moves them to joyful tears. This birthday celebration offered something for everyone, without the intimidation or hassle in-between. Abundant in smiles, first-timers, locals, road-warriors, intimate conversations, beach and black rocks, the spirit of Vibes is carried on each of its gatherer’s shoulders, and in each of their joyful hearts.
“True understanding is to see the events of life in this way: ‘You are here for my benefit, though rumor paints you otherwise.’ And everything is turned to one’s advantage when he greets a situation like this: ‘You are the very thing I was looking for.’ Truly, whatever arises in life is the right material to bring about your growth and the growth of those around you. This, in a word, is art — and this art called ‘life’ is a practice suitable to both men and gods. Everything contains some special purpose and hidden blessing; what then could be strange or arduous when all of life is here to greet you like and old and faithful friend?” – Marcus Aurelius
Following a momentous weekend a new friend of mine named Joan Shanley, who was wearing a Captain America mask at the time we met, thanked me for good vibes, and emailed me this quote saying it reminded her of our cause. How right she is. We are in this together. We carry Good Signs because people need them as much as we do. Not long thereafter I received another message that brought me to tears as we made our way home to Michigan, after a much needed evening of rest in the Poconos:
“You may or may not remember me considering you probably met 2,000 people at Vibes, but I wanted to reach out to you and tell you how much you meant to our group. We have been going to Vibes for years and your contagious positive attitude connected with us right away at a time when we needed it most. Our friend was tragically murdered last September and it was the first Vibes without him. The way you were so outgoing, happy, and smiling reminded all of us of him; including his beautiful fiance who mentioned it to me. Then we asked your name and you told us ‘6’7 Kevin’. Well his name was Kevin as well and we truly honored his spirit all weekend and like I said your vibe is exactly what he was all about.”
These are the precious moments that I live for, and find a way to carry on because. Our gifts are given for a reason, the very same as our deficiencies; and that reason is each other. Music is a song that sings in each and every one of our hearts; it will help us pick up the pieces and begin again if we let it; it will give you a chance to get to know your niece and hold on to the sparkle in her eyes when hard rains fall; and it will ensure the ones you’ve loved and lost never fade quietly into the night, because their memory is everlasting and with you so long as you carry it.
The perfect family and festival weekend was brought to close with Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals. I held my Good Sign high with tears in my eyes while reciting the lyrics:
“Take your face out of your hands
And clear your eyes
You have a right to your dreams
And don’t be denied
I believe in a better way”