by Brandon Lopez
Gem & Jam Festival in Tucson, Arizona is entering its 11th year and is bigger than ever before. This year Gem & Jam has moved locations to the Pima County Fairgrounds, allowing the festival to continue to expand its production and camping capacity. For the first time ever Gem & Jam has added a Thursday “early arrival lineup”, making the jams last that much longer. While the event packs an impressive amount of talent, the festival would not be the same without the gemstones. During this time of year the world-renowned Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase is in full swing with dozens of Tucson locations hosting thousands of gem vendors from all over the globe. Whether you are looking for a chunk of obsidian, a fossilized shark tooth, opals, emeralds, peridot, or a new piece of jewelry, you will be able to find it there. With shuttles running on the hour there is no need to drive to the treasure hunt.
Not in the mood to venture out across Tucson to treasure hunt? No problem, ’cause Gem & Jam will host to a large variety of artists and vendors who will peddle treasures to festival goers. The festival is abundant with visual performers, live artists, workshops, lectures and art galleries. With so much to offer, Gem & Jam is certain to satisfy your inner cravings for artistic expression. Gem & Jam also presents a plethora of Colorado-based artists of many different practices. Evan Davis of Boulder, Colorado will be showing off his skills with prop manipulation where he brings to life geometric shapes using light and fire. Blais Bellenoit and Molly Gardner of Denver, Derek Carpenter of Boulder, Matthew Fredricey of Loveland, and Jim Figora of Crested Butte will all be painting at this year’s Gem & Jam.
Once the sun goes down the music begins, and the lineup this year is quite diverse with a variety of DJs and live performances. With this year’s amazing line-up it is imperative that you set up camp early so you don’t miss any of Thursday night’s performances. Finishing off Thursday night is EOTO who is an absolute must see. EOTO performs live improvised music that is made up on the spot, with nothing prerecorded. By combining live drums and lyrics with the looping of live guitar, bass, and keyboard synths, this duo creates Drum & Bass, Electro, Dubstep, House, and Glitch Hop dance music right before your very eyes.
Starting off Friday night is HÄANA, who you may have seen recently at the Ogden playing the violin alongside the Desert Dwellers. HÄANA performances can best be described as cinematic sonic bass. Fun fact – HÄANA has previously performed for Michael Jordan’s wedding and for President Obama’s Inaugural Ball.
Saturday is stacked with a solid line up of artists including G Jones and Gramatik. G Jones delivers music self-described as “trippy, broken beat bass music” The impressive expanse of genres used by G Jones has made him one of the Bay Area’s and bass music’s hottest artists. He will be bringing new tracks from his Visions EP, due to be released on January 7th. Check out the new G Jones single “We See It Clear” for a sneak peek at what may be in store. I am crossing my fingers that Gramatik will play some Grizmatik tracks such as the newly released “As We Proceed”. While a Grizmatik performance is never complete without both GRiZ and Gramatik present, hopefully we’ll get a taste of their new music at this year’s fest. There’s no reason Gem & Jam 2017 shouldn’t be the best yet.