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Wednesday, June 1

Grateful Fest Has The Perfect Name and Vibe. So we sent ourPhotographer and our newly created Dead Head to poke around. Photos &Words; Lori Bockelken

Grateful Fest Has The Perfect Name and Vibe. So we sent our Photographer and our newly created Dead Head to poke around. Photos & Words; Lori Bockelken
    


I first experienced a Rich Rivkin event I did so as an artist.  With a canvas in hand I grabbed my lawn chair, some paints, and barefooted I went to this new happening of combining bands and art.  It was one of my most memorable moment of summer.   The mixture magically inspires both art forms. I was very moved artistically and  as a music lover. A jazz musician himself, Rich has historically attracted over 1500 people to his Grateful Fest held at North Shore’s prestigious Vanderbilt Estates.  It started out comfortably crowded but every year it would grow. He is more than ok with his festival growing mostly by word of mouth. The year the new venue was Calverton Links, which consists of 80 acres of land.


It's been a pretty damp few weeks here on Long Island,  but no amount of rainclouds can stop these 5 Grateful Dead tribute bands as they enter the gates with vans of vibes and instruments.  The stage is set up with a less is more approach with just two magnificent tie dyed tapestries. To Kick off the day is Deadgrass, as they tune up guitars and test microphones, the sounds of Grateful Fest are already coming alive.  They tackle the coveted Grateful Dead songs and explores the freedom in bluegrass time. Under an overcast sky Deadgrass plays the songs we all love to listen to from J.G.B’s famous Jimmy Cliff cover “Harder They Come” to “Fire on the Mountain” this motivated the hulas hooping and bodies swaying while smiling became contagious.  Then as the set was winding down  a surprise.… a dedication to Bob Dylan’s 75th Birthday.



  A Deadgrass rendition of “Like a Rolling Stone” while the sun began to shine and we sing like the Island wind … “how does it feel, ah how does it feel?” … it feels like a fantastic day for Grateful Fest.
Warm welcomes go to the newest Grateful Fest family member, After Dark.  A band discovered by Rich Rivkin at a local Grateful Dead-centric venue in Greenlawn, Long Island he describes these guys, “After Dark” as a gem of a band, they have stellar musicianship, solid vocals, and tight jams, I knew that they’d soon become part of our festival family”  
 

I soon heard what a Gem of a Band sounded like and the jams had the Grateful dancing in almost a tribal fashion. The formed After Dark while all going to highschool. They Grew up, married and just recently returned to the stage and we are happy they did!  Opening with “Tennessee Jed” keyboardist, Larry Vedilago and his boyhood friends matured in sound and experience.


Reckoning hits the stage next and all is well at Grateful Fest.  Coming up from the now tightly packed ground Reckoning has been enjoying the day with us. They needed no set list they just played some tunes yet to be heard.  Well loved, the crowd is applauding and moving to the familiar innovative sound that they been sharing since 1990.  Reckoning is based on Long Island and have payed well over 2000 shows.  A familiar name at the largest festivals around the New York. Reckoning is one of the most popular GD cover bands in the area. 
   
The Electrix,  ended the music with a versatile band, They have historically played with stars like The Band’s beloved fallen leader Levon Helm on drums, Vassar Clements on fiddle and I see members of Old & in the Way.  Several other notables like Michael Falzarano brought the Vibe to a climax with the perfect spring bluegrass. The Electrix play festivals with the biggest names in music. They have an uncanny ability of extending sounds as moving as the trance takes over the body to the inspiring sounds of Jim Fleming on banjo as the next  bluegrass staple becomes recognizable.  This was often received with a deeper connection to songs like “moonlight midnight” as the music played acoustically it carried a heavier presence of Jerry.   Bluegrass sounds of the Old and in the Way on the banjo all gives The Electrix is signature sound with over 21 years together.

 Outstanding in popularity since their inception in 2004, Half Step continues to push the envelope into the stream of consciousness that at times they seem to be channeling Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead right before your very being. Replicating even the Dead’s instrumental collection, amplifiers, and musical accessories changes of members over these last 11 years have taken this band on a journey to who they are today. 
 

If the beautiful movements of Cindy Lopez is not enough to get you into the groove maybe the exact replication of the Dead’s sheet music as they play “Terrapin” to an already full festival crowd the spiritual oneness is spreading like sun in the morning until we all are warm. It's enough to self proclaim your own Dead Headedness at a later age than some. 
Feet tapping in the dirt and body swerving to the sounds of the most authentic Dead tunes since your last bootleg or Dicks Pick..  Close your eyes and take a stroll back to the day when you were grooving to peace, love and music … it is that contagious.  

  You feel the love, right?  We do too.  Thank you Half Step for sharing the love that Jerry Garcia instilled in them.  We here at Grateful Fest are in our happy place because of you. Have a Grateful year! 
Till next time, 
Gratefully yours
Lori Bockelken