Coming up this weekend, the 13th annual Gem & Jam Festival descends on Tucson, Arizona in the perfect marriage of unbridled natural energy and the sweet, explosive ecstasy of some of the world's best dance music. Produced by Fog City Productions, Legion of Bloom Music, and Mammoth Music Group, the gathering is a whirlwind of wild bliss with a pervasive spirit and a striking style. Preparing for all the wonder in this dusty intimate gathering is a difficult task if you don’t know what to expect. Naturally, EDM.com is on the case with all the must-know info.
World-Class Dance Music
Topping the bill, psychedelic acts like Tipper, Twiddle and Manic Focus are sure to serve up the sensational bass, undulating grooves, and memories aplenty. Those three are enough reason to go for bass music fans.
The three fully-equipped stages also have enlisted Big Gigantic, Balkan Bump, and The Floozies for a bit of instrumental thunder. Turning heads this year, the festival has also organized a historic Grateful Dead tribute band featuring all-star dynamos like Michael Travis, Jason Hann, Eric Krasno, Mihali Savoulidis, Reed Mathis, Todd Stoops, Michal Menert, and Pink Talking Fish.
On the other end of the top shelf is Dirtybird’s legendary Christian Martin, and a full-fledged Desert Hearts' takeover will ensue with Mikey Lion, Marbs, Rybo and Lubelski. This particular blend of Desert Hearts characters should catch many who think they know the label by surprise. In fact, it will likely be water in the desert for those who are thirsty for fun, trippy, spacey house and techno. The curation leans toward hard-hitting, heady acts that, between visuals and sonic textures, don enough force to make a sober face melt. Throw some of nature's glitter in there and boom: You’ve got Gem & Jam.
“We’re super excited to play Gem & Jam this weekend,” said Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic. “We just released a single called 'Burning Love' featuring Kidepo on January 14th, and we have a new album - Free Your Mind - coming out the 28th, so I’d say the thing we’re most excited for this weekend is just the opportunity to play a lot of the new tunes live!”
Further distinguishing Gem & Jam from other events in the woke milieu is its namesake Gem market. The market is a must even if you’re broke. Glistening with wares from a local Gem show in Tucson (without the Jam), which attracts collectors and purveyors from around the world, no other festival taps into as much in the way of minerals as Gem & Jam.
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For those who find healing, focus or some other benefit in a rare stone, this festival is a must not miss. Even if you’re only sold on the aesthetic, it’s difficult not to find an attractive fossil or mysterious opal hoping to post up on your desk on Monday. Perusing the shops is a great way to explore the lore that festies and mystics often attach to rare minerals.
Turnkey Camping Aids Local Relief Effort
The Ready Set Camping option offers a ton of arranged comfort, like high-grade tents made of a composite fabric purported to keep the chill at bay in the evening and the cool inside in the sun. The package includes an inflatable mattress, bedding, furniture and a space heater which can be run inside your tent because each one has a hot power strip to run and charge devices.
Where the aforementioned Ready Set Camping package is geared for luxury, the Camping Bundle is clearly for expedience on a budget. It includes a two-person tent, a couple of flashlights, pillows, sleeping bags, and an inflatable mattress. After the weekend, all the camping supplies that are still in good, working order are then donated to a local organization, Youth On Their Own. The inspiring non-profit directs a dropout prevention program and works to support the growing population of homeless youth in Pima County.
Art Stays Center Stage
Muralists and painters, stage designers and all manner of performer converge in pleasure and spectacle. For Gem & Jam, the physicality of gems become a template for the textures and colors you’ll find throughout the venue. From dazzling hues to glistening arrangements the collection of artists at the festival showcase a depth that stretches well beyond the blockbuster lineup billed for the event.
Gem & Jam Co-Producer Josh Pollack told EDM.com:
"The Gem & Jam experience is about the symbiotic relationship between music, art and gems. We pride ourselves on going big on our art offerings, whether it be live painters, art galleries, performance art, or interactive art installations - they're all meant to inspire with awe. That relationship influences every element of the experience that you just have to be there to fully understand. Also, keeping a diverse array of sounds and different genres is another important element, as we strive to keep our lineups fresh and featuring a healthy mix of musical styles. Building on that aspect, we intentionally put together a unique combination of artists that you won’t see anywhere else, in addition to special super jams featuring world-class musicians that debut at Gem & Jam."