Gem and Jam Festival 2016
Tucson celebrated their 10th anniversary of Gem & Jam Festival over the Valentine’s Day weekend with a star studded lineup accompanying a plethora of beautiful art, rocks, and performers. Every musical act performed flawlessly as if they each could have easily been the main act of the night. Nearly every show had performers across the three intricately designed stages whether they were flipping fire or moving to the groove. For the first time, Gem & Jam added onsite camping to allow attendees to make the venue their temporary home. Every single soul Freio Music met over the weekend was extremely kind and loving, making it easy to feel welcome outside of our home state.
The festival was held over the perfectly weathered weekend as it saw temperatures reaching to almost 90° during the day and dropping to cool summer-like desert nights just in time for the music. Entry into the venue and will call was seamless as there were never burdening lines despite attracting the largest amount of attendees in their history. The venue, located at “The Slaughterhouse,” was a perfect size, allowing minimal walking from one stage to the next. After the music was over for the night, Gem & Jam kept the music going almost until sunrise with three afterparties each night. Two were in downtown, and one inside the venue at the Onyx Stage.
Stunning art was spread throughout the entire venue with a constant crowd watching their creation. Artists were constantly tending to their paintings and putting out some of the most spectacular pieces of art ever seen. There were artists beside each and every stage as well as their entire surroundings, providing their own show of creativity.
It was overwhelming to see so many amazing musical acts under one bill. One could bounce from one stage to the next and see a nationally or internationally renowned act throughout the entire day! The Quartz Stage was beautifully hand decorated with laser cut wooden sculptures and plenty of artsy structures providing both shade and something to gaze at. Pretty Lights Music’s Michal Menert and Eliot Lipp each brought their own uplifting beats and Tycho’s downtempo set took over the main stage Friday night closing out with Minnesota’s heavy bangers. The Jade Stage housed Colorado’s very own Magic Beans who jammed heavily until the festival’s close.
On Saturday, the great music started with Dirtwire’s “swamptronic” music and didn’t stop until Beats Antique and their extremely well choreographed performers who closed out the second night. The night also saw many headline-worthy acts like the always entertaining dance moves of Polish Ambassador, the pulsing beats of Desert Dwellers, and UK’s OTT who definitely got the most people dancing during the whole festival. Once Arizona locals, Brothers Gow are always a pleasure to see as their jammy takes on old songs as well as their own can really get the crowd involved with their awesomely funny dance moves.
On its final day, Gem & Jam certainly did not slow down in terms of musical acts as many quickly-rising electronic acts took over the Jade Stage while legendary DJ’s and numerous live acts shook the main stage. Mark Farina brought his smooth “mushroom jazz” that laid backbeat to some very chill hip hop like A Tribe Called Quest. Marvel Years performed before going back-to-back with Manic Focus who brought the electro-funk to Tucson. Lyrics Born was the biggest hip hop act and gained many new fans with their lively show. Closing out the night, Lettuce’s funk music brought Gem & Jam to a bittersweet end. But before Lettuce, was our favorite of the weekend, Break Science with the Shady Horns. The horn section from Lettuce collaborated with Adam Deitch and Borahm Lee and provided a wonderful addition to Break Science’s electronic sound. Manic Focus even joined the party to put on quite the fun show.
Tucson, Arizona treated us well with open arms and Gem & Jam held a beautiful gathering of thousands of kind-hearted people. Everything from the extremely kind security (thank you), to the savory foods, to the great music provided us with an unforgettable Valentine’s Day weekend. The experience was top-notch and certainly stands out from the other festivals of this time and we are beyond excited to see what they have in store for us next year.
For its third year in a row, Arise Festival has united music lovers of all genres bringing an eclectic diversity of musical talent over the three day weekend in Loveland, Colorado.
It wasn’t just the quality performances across four stages that drew the crowd of over 5000 lovely people to the secret valley. It was the yoga, films, workshops, dialogues, live performances, and art that were enough to keep everybody smiling through the 90° days of Colorado sunshine. The week before the festival even began, the Permaculture Action Course brought people together for permaculture education and community building with a focus on catalyzing social transformation. The Polish Ambassador held his touring Permaculture Action Day at the venue with volunteers to actively regenerate biodiversity and natural resources. The family-friendly venue spanned over 100 acres surrounded by colorful mountains and festival-goers were treated with perfect weather and vibrantly stunning sunsets throughout the entire weekend.
At the elevation of 5394 ft. the thin air complemented crisp music of four music stages. The Eagle Stage hosted the largest of acts, sitting in a bowl and providing perfect views of the stage and down a valley of red-toned rocky mountains. Immediately next to that, was the Phoenix Stage which provided alternation in music to virtually never stop between the two stages. On the other end of the venue, the Area 51 Stage presented by TheUntz was dedicated to electronic music with 3D projection mapping, premium sound, and brought the dance party all day lasting through the night. The StarWater People’s Stage provided a constant array of music showcasing local talent that will surely become the next big names in Colorado. A stage dedicated to yoga in the Yoga Zone, rested on a hill above the festival grounds where people could embody their energies with leaders from all over the globe. During the hot days, the air-conditioned Big Sunrise Dome held films, intimate music and storytelling, and presentations.
This year, Arise continued to focus on uniting conscious music that aligns with the theme of conscious action, ecological activism, and social justice. Special guests were prevalent in nearly every act. In between promoting environmental awareness and expanding the gardens of Sunrise Ranch, The Polish Ambassador brought the largest crowd of the weekend with his funky smooth music that left attendees on an uplifted note for the rest of the weekend. Brooklyn based Turkuaz had the surprising highlight of the weekend blasting a mesmerizing set full of their unique take on funk with their powerhouse horn section and they’re beautiful singers. Earlier in the day, The ReMINDers raised faith in hip hop with Big Samir’s smooth flow complimented by Aja Black’s amazing voice. Not only did they rock the main stage, but the following day, they took over the Children’s Village playing a low key show for the kids and parents. Instruments were passed out among the children while other kids played on the hand built drums around the stage to join them in making music. Other musically talented people joined in to play saxophone and acoustic guitar; then kids danced on stage and even sang along side The ReMINDers. It was very heart warming to see a main stage act get intimate and spread smiles across all ages as they joined in on the music.
Saturday had a jam-packed musical lineup between the adjacent Eagle and Phoenix stages, allowing fans to never have to leave their spot. The non-stop music went from Nederland’s The Magic Beans, to the many musical styles of Ozomatli, to reggae’s finest Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, to the rocking Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, then chilling out with Wildlight, ending with the soothing beats of The Human Experience. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, formed by drummer Joe Russo from Furthur, brought many dedicated fans out to Loveland that night. With their rockin’ take on Grateful Dead songs, JRAD performed a highly energetic show that left the crowd wanting more. Those who missed them, should be sure to catch them in their next show. If it was possible to leave the continuous music at all, the Area 51 stage was packed with endless fun as well. The jamtronica trio hailing from Fort Collins, Skydyed fused electronic feels with funk, rock, and bass. Tnertle brought the Denver electro-funk before Defunk gave everybody a taste of his electro-soul beats.
The final day wound down with peaceful music across all stages leaving fans happily content before they head back to all over the country. Boulder reggae band Intuit brought their local captivating music to the Starwater People’s Stage. After playing to a sold out crowd at Red Rocks Amphitheater last week with Dirtyheads and Slightly Stoopid, Stick Figure continued the reggae vibes and graced us with their uplifting music. The large band Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros played a very enlightening show with lead singer Alex Ebert taking the time to preach love across the crowd. One of Colorado’s favorites, Mikey Thunder brought his fun-packed party to the Area 51 Stage before saQi performed his set full of mystic music sometimes backed by his soothing trumpet. Closing out the festival, Trevor Hall played his acoustic reggae to the loving crowd, bringing special guest singers and even a golden retriever to keep the feelings of peace spread throughout.
Overall, everything at the hybrid festival was incomparably flawless. Our journey, from beginning to end, was amazing in every way. Entering the venue with our cars was seamless, the festival grounds were immaculately clean, food vendors showed off their tastiest foods, and every single staff member and volunteer was genuinely helpful and kind. But it was the perfect camping, mind-opening workshops, earthbound yoga, and star-studded lineup over a weekend of beautiful weather that was one to never forget as we look forward to the next time we can all come together to experience what Arise has to offer.
:: A FreioMusic collaboration with Julien Deroeux & Duncan Lowder ::