Gem And Jam Is Back And Better Than Ever!

Gem and Jam 2020 was definitely a life-changing experience for us all. Held at the Pima County fairgrounds from January 30th to February 2nd, the desert sky lit up and music cascaded through the landscape. The crew at Gem and Jam took a year off to focus on building the best festival experience, and definitely didn’t disappoint. For their 13th installment they brought new music options, workshops and so much more to experience. There was also vendors selling every type of gem and mineral and shuttles to get to the Tuscon gem show. In the campgrounds connections flourished, campsites welcomed one another and people shared all the things that made their soul shine. Over on the festival grounds, new music was found around every corner, live painters and artists shared their creations, and memories were made that will last a lifetime.

Those Perfect Vibes!

The biggest new addition to Gem and Jam this year was the local Arizona talent at the Opal stage. A perfectly designed stage and incredible talent created that genuine AZ vibe with lots of local support! One local artist that I deeply enjoyed was Kiitos. He shares music that is is versatile and eclectic, stating that “…my goal is to give unique experiences each time I play, not limiting myself to a single genre.” With his name coming from the Finnish word for ‘Thank you’ he explained to me “…my aim is to express and bring forth a deeper sense of gratitude for all aspects of our existence.” Kiitos, among other local artists, brought a truly special experience especially for those of us that call Arizona home.

The Emerald stage was outside on a soft grass field, with headliners jamming throughout the night. Some acts on the Emerald stage were The Floozies, Big Gigantic, Billy Strings, Twiddle, Tipper and Dirtwire! Over at the Onyx stage, music played inside a huge warehouse which was gratefully warmer than the areas outside. Shows from Marvel Years and Thriftworks played there on Friday, with SODOWN and Buku on Saturday. Sunday brought shows to the onyx stage from Desert Dwellers and a Grateful Dead Tribute Band that closed out the night! The quartz stage set up in the grass with plenty of room for every hooper, dancer and beautiful soul. The talent found there included acts from Balkan Bump, Michal Menert, Endoplasmic, Funkstatik and much more! With plenty of jam bands and electronic music, there was a place for everyone to find a stage where the rage fit perfect.

So Much To Explore!

In between music, I spent my time exploring all that the festival had to offer. Browsing the vendor booths and seeing all the handmade merchandise along side some beautiful gems was wonderful. I saw lots of live artists and loved watching their progress on their projects over the weekend. We also enjoyed an Acro-yoga class, A slinky manipulation class by Slinky Josh and some wonderful meditations. One of my favorite things to experience was the fun, bubbly energy of Pam Hoops (pictured below on the left).

One area I loved the most was the Rainbow Family Circus. They hosted multiple workshops throughout the weekend for kids and families, and also had toys and play equipment to explore. I got to see fire performers, aerial performers, and countless displays of beautiful and intricate art installations. This years Gem and Jam was packed with extra surprises, welcoming environments and  more to experience then i ever could have imagined.

“My favorite part about Gem & Jam is my AZ family, the crystals, and how everyone brings their art and are able to share it.” -Heather Marie Dorsey of Richmond, Virginia

I spent a lot of time with festival-goers, asking their opinions and perspectives on this years Gem and Jam. For DJ Earl from Pinetop, Arizona, this year was his first Gem and Jam experience. He said “I really enjoyed it, the community and the vibes are my favorite part… and I’m overflowing with gratitude!” He was hoping to see cleaner campsites next year while Heather Dorsey was hoping to see more relaxed security. Ian Browning was here for his 6th Gem and Jam as he is a local resident in Tuscon. His favorite part is the opportunity to spread joy, every year he comes dressed in giant praying mantis costume which is absolutely wonderful (picture below).

Meg and Isaac Rodman came here from Bonanza, Oregon for their first Gem and Jam experience. Isaac said “This is one of the greatest music festivals I’ve ever been to”. He was also hoping to see an improvement in the amount of bathrooms. Meg explained that her favorite part of the festival is “…all the love that the people creating this event put into every part”. Tess from Denver, Colorado said ” I love how kind everyone is, and how helpful my neighbors are”. Overall it seemed that festival-goers truly enjoyed this years Gem and Jam and were excited to come back in 2021.

Memories For A Lifetime

As I settle back into real life, I find myself thinking over everything I experienced at Gem and Jam this year. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect after the year off, but what I experienced was beyond expectation. I connected with so many genuine souls who had brought a piece of their world to share with us all. I found myself surrounded by incredible talent, inspiring passion and a look of love in the eyes of everyone around me. Gem and Jam was a beautiful and exciting experience, and one that was full of surprises. I’ll definitely be back next year to join the celebration with this beautiful community and I hope you’ll come join me!

For news and updates for next years Gem and Jam check out gemandjamfestival.com

Photo Credit: gemandjamfestival.com, Tanya Czuchra, Heather Dorsey

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