Celebrating 15 Years of Gem & Jam in the Sonoran Desert, Feb 3–5
Situated at the crossroads between North and Central America, Tucson has farming communities that go back 4500 years and the city is still rich with cultural diversity today. So it is not surprising that people still flock to this special place during the winter months to see the breathtaking night sky, saguaro cacti and to temporarily escape the cold while basking in the Arizona sun. The Gem and Jam Music Festival is a popular destination for those who enjoy the irresistible feeling of dancing, camping, and celebrating the artistic lifestyle with their community. With headliners like String Cheese Incident, the Floozies, Emancipator, the Motet, Dirtwire, Funk Hunters and others the 15th Anniversary Celebration promises to be unforgettable.
Treasures in the Desert: For the first 2 weeks of February each year The Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show brings an eclectic array of artisans, jewelers, archaeologists, and crystal hunters. Enormous tents full of curiosities, an African Village with folk arts, Native American Crafts, and people from countries around the world all converge for this unique experience. Naturally when the shops and exhibits close the city streets are filled with colorful nightlife.
The Gem and Jam Festival has become the social attraction at the heart of the experience. Though the event grows each year it continues to be an intimate, creative community affair. Multiple stages, a kids area, workshops, yoga, parades and art installations fill the Pima County Fairgrounds for 3 days. Visionary artists paint live throughout the weekend so that you can watch their imaginations flow onto the canvas in real time.
Seeing a Native American Hoop Dancer on stage with Dirtwire, or participating in a prayer ceremony and drumming at a fire circle are the sorts of cultural collaborations that you might find. Meeting new friends while climbing on the various interactive art installations or soaking up the sun in a grassy meadow are great ways to decompress between musical sets. The event producers put great effort into creating a visually enchanted realm to explore.
Last year Shpongle invited legendary belly dancer, Ishani Ishaya to do a special performance that honored the The Amazon Prophecy Project founded on the indigenous wisdom of the Kogi People. Their legends say that all of life is connected with golden threads. In the video below you will see Ishani dancing in a costume with long golden threads that were passed out into the crowd symbolizing this sacred relationship between all beings.
Coming in 2023 is another collection of stellar performers. Legendary Denver-based funk/jazz/soul quintet The Motet is releasing their 10th studio album All Day on Wednesday, January 18. This marks the band’s first strictly-instrumental project since 2009’s electronica-fueled Dig Deep. With a renewed focus on the listening experience, All Day emphasizes the band’s instrumental mastery and we’ll get to hear their latest tunes alongside their classics live at this year’s event. You can sample the lead single of the album titled, 79 here.
Talking Dead is a collaborative project from Life During Wartime and Garcia Birthday Band, that will play a unique hybrid set for fans of Talking Heads and The Grateful Dead. This will be a treat with remarkable song couplings, groove mutations of fantasy mix-tapes and an outright celebration of two prominent song catalogs.
Snakes & Stars is a new improvisational electronic act known for captivativing their audiences by mixing traditional drumming with various electronic genres. The duo is made up of Michael Travis, drummer of The String Cheeses Incident, and Aaron Johnston of The David Byrne Band.
On top of making his highly-anticipated festival debut, psychedelic bass purveyor LSDREAM will also showcase his special, live Lightcode set which is an immersive sonic healing experience featuring original music, guided meditations and sound baths.
Initially starting as a solo project by DJ/producer Lev Averbakh, Since JulEYE recently added long-time collaborator and veteran keyboardist Todd Stoops (RAQ, Kung-Fu) as a permanent member. The Denver-based trip hop duo will be bringing a vibrant mix of Averbakh’s bouncy hip-hop production with Stoops’ jam band sensibilities.
If the land has stories to tell then the Sonoran Desert may keep some of the most ancient mysteries of North America. This February 3–5 we will add another chapter to the yearly Gem and Jam legacy as we celebrate the 15th Anniversary. Tickets are now available here. Come join us for this jewel beneath the Arizona sky to kick off the 2023 festival season!