Gem and Strawberry Jam: 2015 Coverage
17 Feb 2015

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I had a preconceived notion about returning to Arizona. My last time in the state was not very pleasant: heat, weird laws, and an overall bad experience with some of the state’s people. That said, things ebb and flow and I was optimistic to return with the beautiful participants of our festival scene in mind.

IMG_0201The 9th annual Gem and Jam Festival, held in Tucson, Arizona, hosted Sparkleberry Lane and thousands of other like-minded festival connoisseurs. It was a weekend incomparable to the hundreds of events one could consider attending and read promotions from. Happening in conjunction with the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show – one of the largest mineral shows in the world attracting an estimated 55,000 people over a few weeks – Gem and Jam offers a unique extra curricular activity outside of the festival experience.

The concept of this event is especially enticing because it shines a spotlight on something we all commonly use in our everyday lives and practices: crystals. Crystals have been used for healing for thousands of years. As we humans evolve, we learn more and more about specific gems, minerals, and crystals and how their individual properties can affect us. For example, we use them to store data, realign chakras, make energy grids, and so much more. Due to the internal structure of crystals we are able to recognize the potential of their healing capabilities and feel their vibrational frequencies resonate within us. We look to crystals to restore and harmonize balance in our lives.

Believe it or not, the festival site was once and old slaughterhouse. That said, creators were able to transform the facility into a safe space. Talk about a makeover; what was once a place of death is now home to an amazing event driven by love and unity. In fact, a larger community takes place in the reinvention of this venue as the entire town contributes to a crystal display of epic proportions, which morph into a glittering dance floor at night. An intimate setting, the festival had a single IMG_0338main stage and a smaller stage nestled indoors in the back. Unlike a lot of festivals, this one began early in the evening with amplified sound ending around 1 a.m. This was of no concern to those who wanted to continue their dance until sunrise since each night had special after-party performances. You could find those people at either the silent disco or an off-site location.

I entered the festival grounds on Friday night and instantly noticed the dance floor below me was made of grass. Different wavelengths of color bounced off the projectors into my eyes and I felt a rush of emotion pass over me. This being my first festival of the season, the jittery butterflies were starting to swarm in my belly. No matter how many of these events I go to, it always feels like the first time; I constantly crave this feeling.

Throughout the event, Attendees were lucky to spend time with Alex and Allyson Grey as they blessed our weekend with their Visionary Mystical Experience presentations. Exploring some of the largest religions around the world, they discussed and examined old and new age examples of ideologies through their artistic expression. I was able to catch the last bits of their conversation on Friday and they never seize to shock me. Each time I see them, I learn more from their chats and become truly inspired by the way their minds are able to flow information to those receiving it.

A favorite of ours, Andreilien, formerly known as Heyoka, pumped through the speakers as his honeycomb dreads bobbed up and down. During his set, our crew settled stage left and prepared ourselves for the night to unfold.

Vibesquad soon opened up the dance floor with an up-beat, jazzy feel. I could definitely see the hips start swaying all around me. He later crushed it at an after-party with long time favorite tunes oozing into the crowd. Vibesquad was a top performer that weekend due to the pure joy he wears on
his face as he plays. He really is an animated performer and his personality shining through accurately exemplifies his passion for music.

IMG_0009Later that evening, I was cheerfully surprised when I found one of my newly cherished duos, Krooked Drivers, performing. This group is a male and female team in charge of dropping some of the funkiest beats. The dance floor was alive during their set and I look forward to hearing them again in the (hopefully) near future. Sparkle bonus: the female in the group, Maddy O’Neal, has the most stunning, long, blonde mermaid hair I have ever seen.

Wrapping up the night, long time Sparkleberry favorite, Pumpkin brought good vibes and wide smiles. His set was more than groovy and he was able to convince me that the indoor stage was the place to be!

The sunset on Saturday radiated while casting an orange and pink aura on the entire setting. The way the golden sun lowered at dusk gleamed a particularly unique sparkle on the crystals of the vendors and those hanging elegantly around peoples’ necks.

TastyTreat, a relatively new partnership on the scene, incorporates a melodic flow with drum riffs, strong vocals, and what I would jam out to in my spaceship- if I had one! TastyTreat’s John Smith and DevRun both have solo projects and given their name, shared oranges with the crowd during their set. A tasty treat for TastyTreats? Don’t mind if I do.

Russ Liquid, who has been filling our ears with that stuff we do like for quite some time, converted the party with a multitude of different genres during his set. Not to mention he is a really down-to-earth person with intelligent talent.

The dopest set of the weekend goes to Thirftworks. This pigeon-obsessin’, milk-lovin’, maniac of a IMG_0171music maker has got it going on. The moment his first song hit my ears, I knew, we were in for some serious mind-melting. Sparkle bonus: his set had a special performance featuring Russ Liquid, which was PURE GOLD. Big ups to both Russ and Thrifty, you guys killed it!

Violin filled the air as Emancipator Ensemble serenaded the crowd capping of the second night. Throughout this set I had goosebumps and some serious deep feels for an entire hour. I am a huge fan of bringing EDM and live musical instruments together and Gem and Jam showcased this combination wonderfully with Emancipator being just one example.

Sunday night was an all around thumbs-up from us at Sparkleberry Lane. We got to stimulate our visual senses by seeing the weekend long art creations come to a close. Once blank canvases were now designed with color and formulations from the visions inside many artists’ heads.

The Welch Brothers, another esteemed pair, worked on a massive 4 x 8 painting together for the three day span. I had a chance to talk to Jeremiah Welch about their piece, which elegantly graced
the cover of this festival’s guide. It’s psychedelic combination of the Welch’s traditional style and their inspiration from the majestic Arizona desert proves why these two are becoming more and more recognizable across our culture. Keep an eye out for future projects from Massiflux, an artist collective that includes many of the artists at Gem and Jam.

IMG_0245Gem and Jam was wise to put Phutureprimitive as a closer to the entrancing weekend. Never have I ever been disappointed by one of his sets. His music always has a way of drawing the crowd into a wholly united dance party. By the end of the weekend, at his set, there were no strangers on that dance floor.

To envelope my article in something that is all Gemmy and Jammy I’d like to relate my experience to that of a crystal that presented itself to me time and time again this weekend: citrine. Citrine is known for its abilities to promote success, personal power and energy, and abundance. It amplifies generosity. This weekend was all that for me and those around me. I was, once again, reminded of how personal success in this scene is openhandedly given to all those who partake. Just another way of showing me that we are all in this together.

Thank you Tucson, you’re shining awfully bright right now.

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For more photos from Gem and Jam, click here.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 12.11.30 PMThis article was brought to you by Kendra Blum , the GLITTER BOMB ! <3 Photos provided by Christine Paris. If you’re interested in contributing to Sparkleberry Lane please feel free to reach out to us directly at Sparkleberrylane@gmail.com. We’d love yo hear from you!

 

 

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