GEM & JAM IN REVIEW : A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
If you’re all anything like me, Gem & Jam was not your first festival. No, you’ve been there, you’ve done that, you’ve sipped the festie koolaid. In fact, you’ve probably shotgunned a can of it. But this – this is not your everyday festival. Unlike your typical musical jubilee, Gem and Jam sparkled and shined with a different kind of festal, one that was directed toward the soul; the inner self. In a world where entertainment is aimed at the physical senses, Gem & Jam stands amongst the few that aims to unite us on a deeper level. It brings together not only our sense of self, but intertwines our community through song, dance, and sacred art.
The art, the sacred geometry, the gems- they show us the beauty and uniformity of existence that is met with the optimistic chaos that beats within ourselves. Gem & Jam has a way of highlighting this dichotomy between us and the world that has granted us the privilege of life. Whether you listened to Alex Grey’s speech, had your body and soul moved by Random Rab, or just funked out to The Motet; you knew you were experiencing something beautiful, something more than just music.
Alex Grey spoke of art being our religion; of how we come together to create this tribe; a community of love. One that we can’t measure in any traditional sense of the word. As he spoke, you could look around and see the art as he described it. Artist upon artist had their work displayed; a sea of canvases. Though they differed in content, they each evoked such emotional appeal. Each piece awakened something in us, it may have been different from me to you, but to deny the strength of the artwork that surrounded you would be to deny the beauty of the Arizona sunrise.
Art does not just exist within the confines of a canvas. You could see it in the vendors- vendors who put their heart and soul into the creation of their shirts, hoodies, and glasswear. Vendors left and right offered gems, crystals, and precious stones. The gems move our spirits just as the music moved our bodies. And holy shit, did we groove.
Let’s just start by saying, GOOD LAWWWWWD have you danced that hard before?
The nights consisted of wiggly flip-flopping between the outdoor MainStage and indoor rage-tent. I stayed in the indoor stage for most of the evening, and this is of no disrespect for any musicians, but the heart of the artists’ playing inside could not have been met by the loyalist of lions. Feet stompin. Heart poundin. Booty pop jiggle-jaggle. Did I say Trap-ostriching? Trap-ostriching.
However, nothing could prepare us for The Motet. I once heard a wise man say “we want the funk, gotta have that funk”, and did The Motet get the message. A brass section that could make a stone wall shake some ass accompanied with a bass rift that can make even the British Royal guard shimmy. That funk hit me like a lightning bolt, and the energy didn’t dissipate until the next morning when I was an exhausted puddle-of-a-person that someone needed to mop up off my hotel floor.
The second musical wow-moment of the weekend came form Random Rab Live Band. He moved me, he moved the people next to me, and if you give him the chance he’ll move you to. Now we were fortunate enough to get some live instrumental Rab, but then here comes Cedar with in-your-ears percussion wonderfulness! Now at this point, it couldn’t get any better, but “couldn’t get any better” was not in Gem & Jam vocal.
Rab then hits the crowd with live vocals, and I don’t know if you ever heard a man’s soul, but DAMN! That just melted my mind. And my legs. Serious case of smile-wearing get-down party on the dance floor. That set made my passion stronger, and echoed my weekend sentiments that we are together, that there is no sense of self without a sense of unity and community. We are symbiotic, and it took this set -one damn beautiful set- for this revelation to hit home.
Before I knew it, Rab was finished up, and just when I was getting funky fresh to some Boombox, the lights come on. Gem & Jam had come to an end. As I walked out the venue, there was no denying the smiles on every. single. face. I’m talkin those ear-to-ear cheesy grins too, the good stuff! HEEEEEADIE SMILES OVER HERE! We left Gem and jam smarter, wiser, nicer, and just plain ol’ better people. As Aesop once said, “There has never been a man so ignorant I could not learn from him.” Well, unfortunately, there has been many festivals I could not learn from, but Gem & Jam taught me something. Something that I want my friends and family to know; that we are here and we don’t know why, but I’ll be damned if we aren’t in it together. Heed my warning, not all festivals produce this feeling within, but after all Gem & Jam is not like all festivals. Give it a try, make the trip, see what you learn -and while you’re at it – enjoy some good tunes 🙂