Spaces for the Spirit and Sounds of the Soul: A Gem and Jam Review from Wisdom Workshops to Main Stage Magic

Article Contributed by River Siobhan | Published on Saturday, February 18, 2023

The 2023 Gem and Jam is one to be remembered! This year’s festival had workshops on topics from mycology to movement to mindfulness, musical performers & guests that blew our socks off, and spaces that cultivated groundedness and inspiration.

On Friday, as festivalgoers arrived and grounded into the festival space, Andrew Ecker of Drumming Sounds guided attendees through an Opening Ceremony. He guided prayer and invited folks into gratitude for land, for water, and for ancestors. Throughout the weekend, Andrew gave several workshops at the Drumming Sounds workshop space.

He shared, “My experience at music festivals is really about this, about having conversations and connecting with people. I've seen a lot of great bands, and I'll gravitate towards the dance floor every once in a while. But most importantly, it's about interacting with the people. And what's happened with the contemporary music festival is it's morphed into this really powerful kind of system for information that I feel fortifies the design of that culture that I'm speaking about. So when we offer workshops and we offer drum circles, when we offer these tools to integrate, we're really meeting the needs of the people. And I come here to serve, you know, fundamentally to serve that reflection of my younger self in the eyes of the people that are seeking these experiences.”

Andrew Ecker | Gem & Jam Festival - photo by River Siobhan, Sensation Media

Andrew Ecker is the author of ‘The Sacred 7’ and offers his book online for free. Through his own journey of healing, Andrew has come to a place of offering facilitation of spaces that focus on suicide prevention, substance abuse, individual and community development. He works to curate spaces at festivals for attendees to drop into this healing energy and come into deeper connection with self & community.

I think that the design of the container is based around transformation and I feel that energy exists in two forms, density and flow. So I'm continually holding the space of optimized community engagement, optimized individual persona, optimized self-identity. I'm hoping that people are in that place of living their best self. And that's what I'm hoping people will gain from the ceremonial practices. Opening up that container saying, hey, we're coming to this place consciously and intentionally, and we're creating a foundation that inspires people in transformation, brings them to a place of alleviating the intensity and finding flow.”

Friday also featured KR3TURE, a musician known for his sultry beats and lively dance floor energy. Currently on tour through the west coast and transformational festival circuit, he shares, “I just make fun music that I love. Because of who I am and my values and inspirations, I feel like that comes through in the music and it fits really well in these settings… (my music) really encapsulates what I feel is like a positive expression to help people transcend challenging times, connect with themselves, express themselves, be free and open in a safe, positive and loving container.”

Gem & Jam Festival - photo by River Siobhan, Sensation Media

Beyond music, KR3TURE has a background in ecology and currently works with a couple of nonprofits in the environmental field. Spaces like Gem and Jam definitely resonate for him. KR3TURE stated, “What I believe is that when people feel more connected to the world around them, to be connected to plants and animals through nature or to community, in these gatherings, I feel like we create a more connected, more holistic reality for one another. I felt that connection when I started studying ecology as a college student. I was like, oh my God, these plants are incredible. And the more I learned about them, the more incredible they became. And it made me feel better about the world because the world is such an amazing place. And the more we learn about the world and how incredible it is, the more inspired I become. I just try to share that feeling. Cause I think that that feeling is really a healing place to be.”

Gem & Jam Festival | Tucson, AZ - photo by River Siobhan, Sensation Media

On Friday night, Poranguí and his partner, Ashley Klein, took stage with their improvisational set of sacred songs, prayer and dance. This sunset ceremonial-energy performance created soundscapes for healing and connection across the Emerald Stage lawn.

In our conversation before the show, Poranguí shared, “I always lead with this question: How can I create more beauty in this moment? How can I compliment life, the life that's here, and how do I make it more beautiful? And I found it, including each individual that's in the audience with me. How do I leave them more beautiful than when they came into the space, to the festival, to the venue.”

This sentiment resonates alongside Poranguí’s Beauty Way Tour – which just announced two more months of tour dates across the West Coast of the USA and down into Mexico.

Gem & Jam Festival | photo by River Siobhan, Sensation Media

Saturday set the stage for expansive energy, from workshops to musical performances. We were also wowed with a special guest on the Opal Stage headlining set – if you hadn’t heard by now: CloZee surprised the Gem and Jam community with an appearance during LSDream! During his set at Opal Stage, LSDream brought out CloZee to perform their two new collaborations. It was an epic moment that you definitely wouldn’t want to miss.

photo credit: John Verwey

Earlier in the day, LSDream debuted his new offering: Lightcode. This sound bath experience immersed listeners in a meditative space – and little did we know what was to come during LSDream’s evening set later that night!

photo credit: John Verwey

During the day on Saturday, we had the opportunity to drop into some mycology magic with workshop presenter Rayne Grant. Rayne led a workshop on Mushroom Nootropics and Aphrodisiacs, which dove into a variety of mushrooms and their benefits. Rayne Grant teaches mycology workshops across the west coast - and if you didn’t catch her presentation at Gem and Jam you can find her at this year’s Lucidity Festival.

“It’s so important to be sharing these life skills with each other because we need that and we need to be able to connect with family. And when we create spaces like this, when we come back to these spaces, we see a lot of the same faces, and it feels like community. And whether that's sharing about, say mushrooms, or that's sharing about skills, sharing community is really important. Cause we can share our skills with one another, so that enhances each of us, right?”

Gem & Jam Festival - photo by River Siobhan, Sensation Media

Rayne Grant also runs the Four Corners Mycological Society and is the president of the Psychedelic Club of Durango. She is available online for learning about mycology and sharing resources for a variety of topics within the mushroom world. Rayne shared, “You can always reach out to me… I can point you in the direction if you’re wanting to learn how to cultivate, if you're wanting to learn how to forage, if you're wanting to learn how to build… there's so many different aspects of fungi, you know, building soils, for instance, and permaculture settings. So there's a lot of resources out there.”

Gem & Jam Festival - photo by River Siobhan

On Sunday, we stepped into more jams on the musical side of things - flowing from Bloomurian to Ayla Nereo to Dirtwire to a Cheese Incident set. String Cheese closed out the main stage for the weekend with two inspiring sets and the birthday celebration of Keith Moseley, bass guitarist for the band.

The String Cheese Incident - photo credit: Greg Bollinger

Bloomurian’s Sunday set was another moment of surprise for Gem and Jam attendees, with the entire Balkan Bump team joining him on stage. Bloomurian shared that Gem and Jam “was amazing! Seeing so many friends, being surrounded by visionary art and crystals, and dancing to epic, beautiful bass heavy music was phenomenal… (my favorite part was) definitely getting to perform on the Onyx stage with all the members of Balkan Bump joining me on stage, and a bunch of my friends dancing!”

Bloomurian - photo by River Siobhan, Sensation Media

Following this performance, Ayla Nereo performed at the Emerald Stage for a set that reigned in transformational magic. Ayla started her Sunday set with ‘Eastern Sun,’ a song of awakening and renewal, as the sun set for the last night of Gem and Jam. Through the set, rays of light beamed over the crowd as we transitioned from day into night, sun setting and full moon in leo rising above us.

When asked about her set’s musical flow, Ayla shared, “it was fun to figure out because I had all these new songs that are more like a different production. I just came off of a totally acoustic tour and so I was like, I think I wanna start a little lighter and then go into the dance. And this was kind of the beginning of something that's coming. The whole arc was more light and then we're going deeper and then popping out. I'm excited to create more of a journey. So this was kind of the first iteration of something that's coming. It was magical out there

Gem & Jam Festival - photo by River Siobhan, Sensation Media

I felt committed to being with the energies of the Leo Full Moon and just that feeling, what does it mean to be in our full expression? Especially having this be the first step of a new kind of sound and a new kind of set, stepping more fully into that and inviting that energetic reflection from the audience felt so good.”

Dirtwire’s set closed out their month-long tour and their performance was full force with all the organic sounds and high energy beats that Dirtwire is loved for. They were joined on stage by Briana Dimara, a violinist who often joins Dirtwire in their live shows.

Gem & Jam Festival - photo by River Siobhan, Sensation Media

Dirtwire shared, “We had a blast at Gem n Jam this year! Playing before for The String Cheese Incident was a real honor. What we really love about Gem and Jam is the vibe - there's nothing else quite like it. It's a great mix of people that appreciate a lot of different acts and genres. It's a uniquely Southwest experience.”

Gem and Jam is creating a culture that has expansive energy with top of the line music artists while holding onto its organic grassroots values through community culture, mindful musicians, and holistic workshops. One of the few remaining independently owned and operated festivals running in the states, Gem and Jam is thriving in its roots, while blooming into new opportunities and offerings.

Gem & Jam Festival - photo credit: Silky Shots

Through the weekend, whispers of a new festival spread through the festival grounds, and as we headed home from an epic weekend, the Gem and Jam team announced their upcoming Pacific Northwest gathering: Cascade Equinox Festival. This freshly announced festival will be coming up September 22nd - 24th at Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond, Oregon. Given the magic that was brewed up at this year’s Gem and Jam, we are so excited to see what the team cocreates in Oregon late September.