Gem & Jam Brings Stacked Lineup and Camping to Tucson Desert
Now in its 11th year, Gem & Jam Festival will return to Tucson on February 3-5, 2017 for its annual celebration of music and minerals. After a decade of urban locations, the festival is relocating from downtown Tucson to a more vast and serene desert setting at Pima County Fairgrounds (20 miles south of downtown) where organizers prepare for its biggest year yet. Originally formed as a nightlife option for attendees of the Tucson Gem Show, the festival has expanded steadily and is now seen as a true gem in the Southwestern festival scene.
The state of Arizona contains an array of splendors. Whether it’s the magnificence of the rock-carved Grand Canyon or the omnipresence of natural occurring energy vortexes in Sedona; even the sprawling Sonoran Desert contains a certain majesty. While these attractions are spread out throughout the state, aspects of these wonders collide during this one grand event.
While you won’t find gigantic canyons filled with limestone here, you will find some of the finest gemstones the world has to offer that fuel an undeniable collective energy provided by musicians, vendors and attendees alike during this transformational weekend in the desert. This year the festival has one of its best, most diverse collection of musical acts that will play across three stages with on-site late night sets included.
Everything from funk and house to glitch and jam is present on this year’s lineup. Headliners include eastern-European producer Gramatik who mixes hip-hop, glitch, electro and dubstep into a tasty electronic groove. The brotherly electro-funk duo known as The Floozies, livetronic masters Lotus and bluegrass quintet The Infamous Stringdusters will also be taking the stage this year. Also included is a rare appearance from The Trancident featuring Kang, Kyle, Travis and Jason from The String Cheese Incident in what is sure to be a memorable set. Additionally, pieces of The Trancident are scattered down the lineup in improvisational dubstep group EOTO (Travis and Jason) and the Kyle Hollingsworth Band.
Though the headliners feature a collection of jam and funk, Gem & Jam also has something for those who like their music a little more deep and crunchy. Suitably so, California house collective, Desert Hearts, will showcase some of the best in house music including Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds and Marbs. Desert Hearts — alongside glitch front-runners Opiuo and Thriftworks— are sure to heat up the dance floor throughout the weekend. With such a staked list of music, the best lineup you may see all year might be one of the first ones as well. While the festival is sure to astound with the lineup alone, expect daily wellness workshops, gem and mineral exhibits, and a collection of some of the most celebrated visionary artists in the field today.
While Gem & Jam has seemingly flown under the festival radar, typically drawing a smaller crowd of local Arizona heads, this year’s lineup and new camping option is sure to be bring travelers from across the country. Pima County Fairgrounds is a 640-acre venue that can accommodate thousands of campers, plus a couple hundred RV hookups and boutique camping options. A bigger venue means more art, installations and an opportunity to improve over previous years.
Along with being one of the most unique festivals out there, it also one of the cheapest. GA passes are available now for $169, plus fees. Camp options range from $30 for walk-in camp to $85 for car camping. The boutique Ready-Set camp option will be a bit more expensive but includes shaded camping, and Shift Pod with mattress and bedding furniture. If camping doesn’t appeal to you, a 20-minute drive north into downtown Tucson will be met with an array of quality hotels.
The excitement is only building for the 11th annual Gem & Jam Festival. With only a couple months to go, the festival has much more to announce. Start planning to spend the beginning of your festival season in the Old West surrounded by natural, occurring beauty — both physically in gems and spiritually with music and human connection.