My name is Kevin Statesir, the owner and operating manager of the music venue Higher Ground since it’s inception. I have known Michael Van Gulden since the early 1990’s when he worked security at Nectars. When I opened Higher Ground I personally sought out Michael to organize my in-house security team. I have always known him as a professional, sincere, safety-conscious, and firm but polite security person from several places where he has worked. Michael accepted my offer and organized and supervised the in-house security for the opening of Higher Ground. Michael was an integral part of Higher Ground’s success from the very beginning. He is responsible for saving the lives of many individuals that he has come across and helped in his years in the business. His handling of people in a professional and kind manner created a reputation for us that has lasted until this day. The Department of Liquor Control often went to Michael for identification of fake ids as well. Michael has continued to work on and off for us throughout the last 15 years.

I know that Michael works festivals and has a great reputation and is very well liked in the festival community. As a matter of fact, having worked with the band Phish for many years, Michael was the ‘go to’ guy for backstage security as the band was most comfortable having him on board.

– Kevin R. Statesir

Owner/ Operating Manager

 Higher Ground | South Burlington, VT

I have known Mr. Van Gulden for almost 20 years. He has been one of the most vibrant people in my life ever since meeting him. He is a warm, gentle, caring person with more friends than anyone can imagine. He is a legend in Vermont, and has made himself a legend around the country from running the security parameters at several festivals that I have worked at over the last 15 years. I’ve also had the pleasure of working next to him as he managed security at Higher Ground for 12 years, and still works there when he has the time to. As Production Manager at Higher Ground, I can speak firsthand is saying that Mikey is a true professional. People know him for his impeccable demeanor, his “zero tolerance” stance when it comes to the law, and his care for patrons and employees within. Safety first has always been his M.O. Mikey has been known as the best ID checker in all of Vermont – seriously. He’ll reject you, with a smile on his face. And no one could say a word to him, because of his excellent overall persona – it just oozes out of him. You walk the other way, and that’s it. You know you’re wrong if Mikey turned you away. He is a major reason why Higher Ground has developed the reputation of being the most strict club in Vermont, and remains to have that reputation because of the strong foundation Mikey has built for us.

Mikey has more experience in security and safety than 99% of the guards in the industry right now. He’s worked at several Burlington establishments, he’s been all over the country working as the head of security at several 10,000 + attendee festivals including Bonnaroo, Gathering Of The Vibes, High Sierra Music Festival, 10,000 Lakes Festival, and many more. He certainly has the credibility and has established himself time and time again. Mikey tells it like it is, and people and patrons alike only benefit from the safety standards that he embraces – not only on the job, but in life. I mean this.

– Chris Friday

Tour Manager
Mike Gordon 

Production Manager
 Higher Ground | South Burlington, VT

Mikey van Gulden has been a perfect example of what concert security/safety should be.

He was a major factor in the development of security for Higher Ground, and before that, a trusted, and respected pillar of Nectar’s safety.

Mikey’s extensive knowledge of IDs and concert security techniques have laid the foundation of my training as security head of Higher Ground; techniques and knowledge that I have personally passed down over the years with much success. He was always been known as the master; kind, sympathetic, logical, always smiling, yet firm and in control at all times. He is always the example of what concert security should be: knowledgeable, cordial, and strong when necessary. More importantly, as a person, he is altruistic, gentle, and an extremely positive influence to myself, my staff, and my children.

Several businesses that I know of have expressed their desire to hire Mikey’s company because of his reputation as a fair, welcoming staff member, and as an established member of the Burlington community. His impeccable reputation with patrons and business owners alike, his commitment to supporting his growing family, and his philosophy that safety/security can be maintained without violence, with a firm smile.

I love Mikey as a friend and long-time coworker. I trust him with the welfare of my children any day of the week. He is a good man and a trusted Vermonter to many.

– Chris “Z” Mecca

House/Bar Manager

Higher Ground | South Burlington, VT

 I have had the pleasure of working with Mikey at the Greyfox Bluegrass Festival in Oak Hill, New York for several years.  During this time, it was clear that Mikey’s skills working with the public, my security staff, and the musicians came from a deep understanding of this field, as well as from ample experience with this type of work and the situations that may arise in it.

No matter what his personal feelings or connection to a situation, Mikey has remained professional and respectable at all times.  His individual history has never affected the work he does.  His presence at our festival has made all the difference. Patrons recognize him as someone who will keep them and their families safe, and I trust him due to his training, personality, and years of experience.
Having him on site benefits everyone.  Patrons respect him and he knows how to keep events safe and friendly.
– Robb Tyler Doub

I have known Mikey for almost a decade now and over that time he has become one of my closest and most trusted friends.  As well as being close with Mikey in my personal life I have also worked with him in the professional realm on many occasions.  When I first met Mikey I was inexperienced in the field of security and have always considered Mikey a teacher and mentor in this field.  I have been in many highly stressful situations with Mikey and he has always comported himself in the most professional manner.  Mikey’s ability to remain calm under extreme duress and pressure is astounding.  I have never once witnessed Mikey behave in any manner that wasn’t completely respectful and professional to all parties involved.

Because of my experience both in working and growing with Mikey I would endorse him 100% for any endeavor he wished to follow.  I feel that he is an extremely honest and honorable person with a high level of compassion and understanding that is sometimes lacking in the field of security.   

– Steven Maneely

Burlington, VT

My name is Derek Corner. I am a 41 year old professional Electronics Engineer from Boston, MA. I’ve also spent over 12 years in the live music event/music festival industry working in a security management capacity. I have been at a Management/ Department Head level for a decade. I have worked very closely with Mikey at many live outdoor music events in a security role over the last 11 years, from small 1000 person events to large multi-day music festivals with 80,000 people.

Here are some events we’ve worked (but not limited to):

Berkshire Mt. Music Festival , MA. 2001, 2002, 2003
Gathering of the Vibes, NY,CT 2002, 2003, 2004
10,000 Lakes Music Festival, MN 2006, 2007, 2009
Bear Creek Music Festival, FL 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011
Smilefest Music Festival, NC 2005
Harvest Festival, GA 2002
High Sierra Music Festival, CA 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Asheville Music Jamboree, NC 2006
Wakarusa Music Festival, KS 2005, 2006, 2007
Phish Festival 8, CA 2009
All Good Music Festival, WV 2010
Nateva Music Festival, ME 2010
Phish Superball 9, NY 2011

Mikey has also worked countless live music events independently as well as managing security at various music venue’s for 2 decades. I know Mikey’s security experience, personality, strengths, skills, ethics and overall character very well. Michael is a trusted, seasoned security professional with many years of hands on experience. He approaches each situation in a calm professional manner and would always use his communication skills to diffuse a situation, never letting it escalate to a physical matter. Mikey Van Gulden is a level headed and smart security professional with good decision making and leadership skills. He approaches every situation with the safety and security of patrons, artists and staff as the priority.

Responsibilities include but not limited to:

Security Manager
Crowd Control
Stage & Backstage Security
Person & Vehicle Searches
Venue Security (indoor/outdoor)
Campground Security (music festivals)
Contraband Enforcement & Control
Front of Stage/Pit Security
Box Office Security/Cash Transfer
Personal/Artist Guard

Michael is an experienced security professional in every aspect and I would highly recommend his services based on my experiences working with him.

-Derek Corner


I have known Michael van Gulden since September of 1989, which makes us friends for over 22 years. Mr. Van Gulden and I have worked and travelled together.

Michael Van Gulden is trustworthy, honest, and a viable, contributing member of our society.  He has proved that to me on multiple occasions over the last several years. He has learned a lot from both his recent successes but also from his more distant failures. In my opinion those valuable lessons Mr Van Gulden has taken to heart and put into practice and brought out the positive changes I see.
I heard someone say at Michael van Gulden’s wedding that there is no other person they would want to go into battle with because of Michael’s strength, character, and  virtue. I would second that reflection whole-hartedly.
– Greg Ehle, MMSc, PA-c
Colchester, VT