Photo by Sotrab
People from all over the world embark on an adventure to Tucson, Arizona for an incredible display of the finest gems each year. For the past 13 years, travelers also have the opportunity to see some amazing live music hosted by Gem and Jam Music Festival. It’s a weekend filled with jaw-dropping stones, memorable sets and inspiring artwork. With so much to see and do, it can be difficult to find the time to do it all—so here’s a rundown of my favorite musical moments of the weekend.
Odds are you probably haven’t heard of this supergroup before because Gem and Jam was their debut. And what a debut it was! The group is made up of The Floozies’ Matt Hill and members of String Cheese Incident Michael Travis, Kyle Hollingsworth and Jason Hahn. It was an improvisational journey through groovy electro-funk. It was a perfect blend of jam and electronic music, in my opinion. I cannot wait to see what else these guys do! So if you see TH3 on a lineup, don’t sleep on them!
Now I’ve seen Manic Focus probably over 40 times throughout the years. I always have fun, and I always look forward to the new music he puts out. However, something about this set hit differently. The amount of energy he was exuding was intoxicating—this was probably the most hype I saw a crowd all weekend. He dropped the favorites, killer remixes like Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” as well as some unreleased music that we cannot wait to come out. Overall, this is by far the best set I’ve seen by JMac. Keep it up, brother!
I was beyond excited to finally catch Eminence Ensemble at Gem and Jam! They’re a Denver-based band that bends and blends a variety of different styles of music through improv. Their set was the perfect way to start my Saturday off on a high as everyone was dancing and singing along. As a jam fan, I always love finding new music, and Eminence Ensemble is definitely a new favorite.
Late Night Radio
Late Night Radio takes the cake for the best overall set of the weekend. He brought the fresh hip-hop, electro-soul beats to the beautiful indoor stage, Onyx, on Saturday. From dreamy songs like Sunshine to a dope flip of Come Down by Anderson .Paak, we danced the night away while underneath the glimmer from four large disco balls reflecting off the metallic human-size crystals hanging in the stage background, creating a psychedelic nightclub. It was the kind of set you wish would go all night.
Gem and Jam brought a wonderful mix of electronic and jam to the Arizona desert. While the above are some of my favorite highlights, we can’t leave out the sets from Daily Bread, Tipper, SoDown, Billy Strings, Desert Dwellers, Mersiv and so many more. It was clear to see the artists were enjoying the festival just as much as the fans, which is always a sign of a great festival. I’m already looking forward to seeing what they bring to the table next year; until then, stay gold.