After one-year hiatus, Gem & Jam Music Festival returned to the Pima County Fairgrounds this past January 31 – February 2, 2020, for its 13th year. The festival boasted over 50 musical acts across four stages and three days. In addition to the jams, Gem & Jam participants had the option to engage in a variety of activities including health and wellness classes, drum circles, live painting demonstrations, and interactive art installs.
The festival coincides with the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral show, which provides attendees another venue of entertainment. Shuttles run from Gem & Jam to Tucson to encourage festival-goers to check out the world renowned mineral show happening just a short drive from the festival. With multiple locations and every type of mineral under the sun, it was easy to get caught up perusing the overloaded gem displays for a few hours.
Staying true to a rich Arizona tradition, minerals were a major focal point of the festival. From the stage names and stage design to the art and vendors, everything was all gem all the time. The Emerald Stage had huge rough cut quartz points adorning the stage, while the the indoor Onyx Stage had an iridescent faux crystal point backdrop that created a cave-like environment.
Alongside all those gems were a ton of jams! With four alternating stages, the lineup left the Santa Rita foothills ringing all weekend. Measured by sheer crowd energy, earlier acts that proved to be a hit included Dirtwire, Manic Focus, and The Floozies. As the sun dropped below the rolling hills and the desert temperatures dropped, the evening jams grew heavy and participants who braved the chilly evenings were rewarded by impressive closing acts by Tipper, Big Gigantic, Mersiv, and Buku. Mersiv brought massive sound and energy to the Onxy Stage while Tipper delivered glitch-hop beats to the tightly packed crowd at the Emerald Stage.
While the musical acts are the festival’s main focus, there were plenty of live painters, sculptors, and artists with a background in everything from clay, glass, and woodworking showcasing their art at Gem & Jam. Brad Rhadwood, most famous for his trippy animal designs painted on wood, completing a live painting over the course of the weekend that was then auctioned off. Rhadwood also had a larger piece displayed near the Emerald Stage accompanied by a projector which helped entice attendees to stop and gaze at his creation.
We got our rocks off checking out art, minerals, and grooving to great tunes at Gem & Jam and are excited for the return in 2021! For the full photo gallery, check our album on Facebook.