The midwinter blues turn to rainbows as the cold January nights pass and eager festival-goers flock from across the country to Tucson, Arizona. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is a site to see. With vendors of all nationalities strewn across the city with rare fossils, cultural artifacts, art, geological wonders and more, there’s a new adventure around every corner. The culminating high point for me is the Gem and Jam Festival which showcases some of the finest Visionary Artists, local/national musicians, and DJ’s in a high-vibe environment under the desert sky.
Tucson is truly one of America’s best-kept cultural treasures with a diverse art scene, and some of the oldest history in the nation. This land has been inhabited and farmed for thousands of years with some of the oldest agrarian sites in north america. The Presidio built of adobe still stands right in downtown Tucson a block away from Old Town Artisans, a popular gathering place for music, art and food. There’s also the Hotel Congress where notorious gangster, John Dillinger was captured. Tucson’s 4th Avenue is the Haight-Ashbury of the Southwest filled with restaurants, thrift stores, and local art galleries.
For anyone who loves the summer festival season, this two week event is the perfect medicine for the long, grey winter months. I remember the early days of Gem and Jam when it was on 4th Avenue at the Hut. Now it has grown to a world-class event drawing fans from far and wide. I got a chance to ask Josh Pollack, a Gem and Jam Producer what will make this year special:
So the main element that is different this year is that we are able to offer on site camping options. In previous years attendees have had to leave the site to go to their hotel or Airbnb after the music ends. All of the programming is on site this year; the pre-party, workshops and late night events that have all been offsite in the past. Having a bigger venue surrounded by the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert enables us to have everything centralized and accessible which gives the festival a more easygoing vibe and enjoyable experience. Plus the late nights are now included in the ticket price whereas in years past it's been a separate ticket. This year there are more art installations and art galleries, plus the 2 main stages of music that go back and forth (no overlapping music). Lastly, this years musical lineup is by far the most extensive and diverse we've ever had in the 10 previous years. Bringing in more live acts, the potential for collaboration and improvisation is endless!” -Josh Pollack
With acts like Gramatik, Mike Gordon, Lotus, EOTO, the Infamous Stringdusters, the Motet, Steve Kimock and more, this years event is looking epic! Dates are Feb 2-5 but come early to enjoy the city and the sunshine. For more information about the Gem and Jam Festival, please visit their website where you will also find great photos from previous years. Now is your moment to get a taste of summer festival life before Old Man Winter loosens his grip.