Gathering of the Vibes – Levon and Bobby Go Big

Welcome To Now is back from the Vibes with smiles on our faces, mud caked on our shoes, and sunshine daydreams still firing through our synapses. What a fantastic weekend – it dosen’t getter much better than that. The highlight of the weekend imho was the back-to-back performances of Levon Helm Band and Ratdog on Saturday night on the main stage. The rain had left, clouds had parted, and the stage was set for a magical evening of music.

GOTV 2009 Main Stage

GOTV 2009 Main Stage

Levon Helm Band started off and played an eclectic and upbeat set with Larry Campbell and wife Teresa leading most of the vocal efforts along with Levon’s daughter Amy. Levon was on medical orders not to sing but the band was smiles all around and really seemed to be throwing down, Levon included. The set started off with The Band classic ‘The Shape I’m In’ – a fitting opener for day 3 of a rain, mud, and heat filled festival. The band then dropped into a few newer selections before giving a nod to Dylan with a nicely re-worked rendition of ‘Simple Twist of Fate’. Teresa then took over a beautiful cover of ‘Long Black Veil’.

Levon Helm Band - 7/25/09

Levon Helm Band - 7/25/09

That’s when things really heated up – Larry delivered a smoking ‘Deep Elem Blues’ to set the stage for Levon welcoming out Bobby for a perfect 1-2 punch of ‘Attics of my Life’ and ‘Tennessee Jed’. Bobby really clicked with the band on both tunes delivering a surprisingly well done harmony part on the ‘Attics’ and doing a stand-up job of leading the band through a fun version of ‘Tennessee Jed’. All in all, quite a treat – the kind of moment that reminds you why festivals like GOTV are so special.

Levon w/ Bobby - Tennessee Jed

Levon w/ Bobby - Tennessee Jed

After saying farewell to Bobby, the Band kept charging through the rest of the set and finished things off with two of my favorite Band songs – the soulful ‘It Makes No Difference’ followed by the rock anthem ‘Chest Fever’. To close things out on an even higher note, Bobby re-emerged for a picture perfect rendition of ‘The Weight’ complete with crowd singalong.

Levon Helm - 7/25/09

Levon Helm - 7/25/09

Levon Helm Band
Gathering of the Vibes
Bridgeport, CT

Shape I’m In
Love Played A Game
Crazy ‘Bout My Baby
Simple Twist Of Fate
Long Black Veil
Before I Get Too Old
Did You Love Me
Deep Elem Blues
Attics Of My Life (Amy Helm, Teresa Williams, and Larry Campbell w/ Bob Weir)^
Tennessee Jed (full band, Bob lead vocal)^
All On A Mardi Gras Day
It Makes No Difference
Chest Fever

The Weight^

^ – w/Bob Weir

Levon Helm Set – 256 mp3 Download

Levon Helm Set – Torrent Download (Flac Files)

Ratdog - 7/25/09

Ratdog - 7/25/09

Bobby and Ratdog were up next and the band came out firing on all cylinders. There were many complaints about Bobby as the choice for the headliner slot (from myself included) but it seems Bobby has gotten the message about the slow playing and flubbed lyrics – at least for the evening. Hands down, this was the best showing from Bobby I’ve seen in years. The band started out with the rarely played ‘Festival’ which set the mood and eventually segued into a smoking ‘Jack Straw’ complete with glow stick war and rocking jam section. After cooling things down with a soothing ‘Lazy River Road’, the band kept things rocking with a surprisingly upbeat ‘Bird Song’ that led into a fun ‘Bertha’. The band was just in the zone nailing seamless segues between numbers like it was their job.

Ratdog w/ Donna - 7/25/09

Ratdog w/ Donna - 7/25/09

The band then dove deep into their cover repertoire with a memorizing sequence of Silvio (Bob Dylan)> Tequila(Danny Flores)> Silvio> Tequila> Silvio. This sequence eventually gave way to the pleasant sounds of the ‘Scarlet Begonias’ intro vamp and out from side stage emerged Donna Jean Godchaux for an upbeat deadhead singalong galore. After Scarlet, the band launched into the closing and most intense part of the evening, finishing things off with Ashes and Glass> Iko Iko> Stuff> Days Between> Bird Song. Bobby really did ‘Days Between’ justice and channeled his love for Jerry along with the rest of the crowd – a truly special moment. Sandwiching this bust out between straight fire takes on Iko’ and ‘Bird Song’ (reprise) was just what the doctor ordered.

Ratdog - Iko Iko - 7/25/09

Ratdog - Iko Iko - 7/25/09

It wouldn’t be a Saturday Night with Bobby if he didn’t hit you with his classic ‘One More Saturday Night’ romp and tonight was no exception. The band welcomed Donna back out for a set closing rendition that just flat out rocked. After a quick break, the band launched into a beautiful though expected ‘Ripple’ encore (see Mountain Jam 2008). All in all, a great way to close out a truly, truly magical evening. To all you Bobby haters out there, remember: Bobby fans are people too!

Gathering Of The Vibes
Bridgeport, CT

Jam >
Festival >
Jack Straw
Lazy River Road,
Bird Song >
Silvio >
Tequila >
Silvio >
Tequila >
Silvio >
Scarlet Begonias*
Ashes and Glass >
Iko Iko >
Stuff >
Days Between >
Bird Song
One More Saturday Night*

E: Ripple*

*-with Donna Jean Godchaux

Previous ”Festival” 8/24/2006 [175 shows]

Ratdog Set – 256 mp3 Download

Ratdog Set – Torrent Download (Flac Files)

Long live the Grateful Dead and long live Vibe Tribe!


  1. Tee Said:

    Fantastic review , thanks for sharing

    • cnmn Said:

      Agreed…fantastic review and felt like it was the next best thing to being there! Appreciate and love Bobby!

  2. […] performances from this year’s Gathering Of The Vibes festival (check out coverage of the Levon Helm and Ratdog shows here). Thanks to the hard work of some tapers – special events like the Vibes live on long after […]

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