Gem and Jam: My Forever Festival

Photos by Sage Thomas

If I could go to only one festival for the rest of my life, it would be Gem and Jam Festival.

It’s intimate, it’s not extremely flashy, but it is most certainly HOME.

Just outside of Arizona’s own city of Tucson, lies the Sonoran Desert and a gem of a festival that is completely different from anything you have ever experienced. Here is where thousands gather for the yearly magic that is Gem and Jam Festival, an intimate get together for mind-blowing performers, passionate artists of all sorts, musicians, music enthusiasts, as well as inspirational nomads and gem and mineral lovers.

The beauty can be broken down into two categories: the GEMS and the JAMS-

So, let’s talk GEMS. The beginning of the year marks a special time for the city of Tucson, where it goes from just any other city to a global gathering of gem and mineral traders from all over the globe, not to mention art and culture as well. The basis that makes this festival unique lies in the surroundings, with shuttles taking you to and from the international mecca of rarities throughout each day. MUSIC and beautiful crystal showcases? Yep, I’m hooked. I highly recommend venturing outside of the festival grounds, you will be undoubtedly in awe of what this beautiful Earth we live on can create. Expect crystals larger than the size of YOU!

Next, let’s dive into the JAM of Gem and Jam Festival. I’m personally pretty new to the Jam scene (long-term bass-head here), but the more I see, the more addicted I become. Since the two STS9 sets that graced the Pima Country Fairgrounds and broke my tribe virginity, I have been listening to the STS9 Pandora station and only just that.

STS9 Night 1

Jam bands… something about the unexpected rifts and magic of never knowing what is coming next has the power to keep us hooked as music lovers. We’ve heard the songs before, but they are just a little bit different, just a little bit more exhilarating when they are created right in front of your eyes. A mecca of instruments come together to create what is best described as an eargasm.

The genre of jam is the epitome of good-vibin’, happiness-inducing music. These are the sets you spend busting out dance moves that you didn’t even know were possible and laughing out sounds that you have never heard before. Every band tends to bring something new to the table, a sound different from anyone else in the genre. Matched with the scrumptious, 75-degree winter weather, this all makes for a pretty wonderful experience. Sunbathing in January is a life-changing experience.

To put it simply, the musical layout of the weekend was absolute perfection.

Days were spent shopping throughout the variety of extremely heady vendors, fueled by the tunes of the main stage right nearby. With this, it was highly possible to be gemmin’ and jammin’ all at the same time, coming home with a crystal and a ton of good memories from your favorite sets.  And at the main stage, live painters blow your mind as you listen to your favorite musical geniuses perform. This has been one of my favorite qualities that Gem and Jam has to offer, and my jaw drops just about every time I take some time to explore.

Two funkalicious nights of Lettuce, two breathtaking journeys through time and space with STS9 (my new favorite band, if you were wondering), along with exceptional performances by Emancipator, Big Wild, Papadosio, Random Rab, and so many others graced the gem-adorned stages throughout the weekend. Arguably one of the most jam-packed lineups in Gem and Jam history and absolutely unforgettable.

The Late Night sets began at midnight each night, and were bound to make you warm inside on these cold desert nights. Yes, the trippy bass music that was bumping during the nights gave me butterflies and the uncontrollable dancing was warming physically, but the room is literally HEATED! I am extremely grateful for this year by year, as many festivals do not have indoor sections. Here is where CharlestheFirst, Jade Cicada, The Russ Liquid Test, and a few other favorites took over. Late night vibes… absolutely wild.

I could go on with why Gem and Jam is an event that I will attend for the rest of my life forever… the late night chats and chanting by the fire, the tea time with a person you feel like you’ve known forever, and the overall feel-good vibe of the festival, – to just give you an idea. I find inspiration and feel the love from just about anyone I run into, something that sticks with me all throughout the year and gives me the chills when it’s time to return yet again.

So, come check it out for yourself with YOUR squad in 2019 and experience my forever festival with me next time.


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