[The Audiofiles] We Be Jammin’: Get Your Rocks Off at Tuscon’s Gem and Jam Festival

We are all creators in our own way;
It doesn’t matter if you’re a artist, or a musician…
If all you bring is peace to a situation, you are a creator
– Papadosio –

A never ending, socially constructed conundrum – time stands as a source of equal amusement and bemusement, destruction and creation.  We build, generate, and fuel our personal passionate fires because we want to leave a legacy on the world, so much so that we can lose sight of a single moment; which, in all honesty, is all that truly exists.  But right now,I’m finding that difficult to conceive; it feels like three lifetimes ago that I left Los Angeles to embark on the trip of a lifetime out to Tucson, Arizona.

In reality, it was only last Thursday when the sun set into a golden amber hue as we loaded the car in a pseudo hurry, stopping every so often to swoop one of our four cats and fit in some mandatory cuddle time with our kittens before we hit the road.  As rush hour dissipated, we cranked the jams, rolled down our windows and gleefully noticed as the saguaro cacti haphazardly filled the horizon and multitudes of stars illuminated the sky. Crushing through the 10 Freeway, we had our one track minds set on the monumental weekend that we had before us. Sure, we were five individuals, our brains flying ten million miles an hour as we launched through the desert, as we ebbed and flowed through the lineup, hashing out set conflicts and reminiscing about Festivals Past. This was the first time that I’d gotten to give Danny and I’s best friend and third tripod leg Giordan entry to a multi-day event and it felt so good being able to give back something I’m personally always so thrilled to experience.  Even though our other friends David and Jimmy were simply coming for the first night of entertainment,  I was beyond excited to share the feelings of love and community that I get being a transplant at these festivals with my closest friends. Events like this aren’t really any fun if the Homies can’t have none, and for the first time I was blessed with an opportunity to share the adventure with some of my close knit crew. Between the lot of us we were made up of 3 photographers, 2 writers and 2 sound engineers; no, there’s no funny math involved, we’re just multi-talented modern day Renaissance people trying to make it in the world.  

Standing as the South West’s preeminent West Coast Bass infused transformational festival, Gem and Jam  was entering it’s 9th year and we were itching to drink it in.   With the resurgence and incorporation of jam bands and live group instrumentation within the umbrella of dance music, the weekend was perfectly poised to inject life into a genre that’s become inherently cookie cutter over the past decade. And the music is just one part of the puzzle. An amalgamation of highly skilled spiritual and psychedelic live artists ranging from Alex and Allyson Grey, The Welch Brothers, Xavi Panneton, Jef Logan and Amanda Sage setup easels around the grounds, drawing inspiration from effervescent, thoughtful musical performances while vendors adorned the walls and true performance art: fire dancing, acro-yoga, poi and aerial silks galore were displayed en masse to wild-eyed wanderers by performance troops and novices alike, the festival eagerly embraces the underground counterculture’s conscious community and the creator in each and every one of us.

Collectively curated by the genius minds and happy humans at Infinite Music Productions, Euphonic Conceptions, New Earth MUZiQ and Challenger, for three solid days at Tuscon’s Slaughterhouse.  Currently grounds for a makeshift haunted house befit for the most horrific of Halloween haunts, the Slaughterhouse was originally a Farmer John’s Meatpacking Plant (that huge wooden platform we were on definitely weighed cattle), not to mention plays host to a spooky urban legend that makes me shudderHowever, for one wonderful weekend, the venue underwent a magical metamorphosis into a world that pulled inspiration from the principles of Burning Man, the ethos of Lightning in a Bottle, the humor of a tent circus and a community that immediately inducted you into their festival family.

Timed in synchronicity with Tucson’s internationally famous Gem and Mineral Show, an annual event that easily accrues upwards of 50,000 international characters to the area to peruse pristine, colorful and often rare stones, gems and minerals, the Gem and Jam Festival is a unique bloom in a field of copycats and mainstream events.  For three days and thirty six hours, hundreds upon hundreds of conscientious creatives adventured down a rabbit hole of artistic prowess while souls entwined and slipped into a sonic bliss to auricular excellence.

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
Maya Angelou

500 miles and seven hours later, the saguaro cactus had become a semi-permanent fixture in our field of vision and the flat desert landscape was playing tricks on our vision.  But triumphantly, anxiously and excitedly – I pulled into the festival grounds with four of my best friends, eager to digest a new festival in a new state.  A cornerstone of Arizona’s emerging Bass Vibe, the morning’s at the festival consisted of workshops on yoga, dancing, flow movement, and crystal education while this year’s afternoon and evening lineup was stacked to the brim with acts that fully embody what it means to jam out with their gem’s out.  Jam Culture, which really kicked off with 60’s groups like the Grateful Dead and Phish dishing out genre bending musical improv layered over harmonic chord progressions and pulsating grooves, has met an electric, new wave match in unprecedented ways almost 50 years later.

Strolling into the grounds on Friday afternoon, my heart fluttered with the same excitement some get when they open a new book to start a grandiose adventure – beyond just music and art, I love pure, unabashed creative expressions of humanity, and they were bountiful this past weekend.  Vendor booths didn’t just wrap around the festival grounds, they were scattered outside on walkways and throughout the parking lots, leaving a humerus trail of hippie bread crumbs for future archaeologists to find.  While Andrelien got the crowd moving, we migrated through the vendor booths – delicately discovering little treats and treasures from a fun variety of vendors like the Fancy Shop of Important Things, Third Eye Pinecones, Anonymous Creations and Rainbow Bliss Botanicals. By the time we snagged delicious Chinese Food from Jane’s Rolling Wok, we danced around the perimeter of the grounds to PsyBill, but once we heard VibeSquaD it was game over; the crowd roared to rambucnctoious life as Vibesquad gave the South West a taste of the Southern California Bass Sound I’ve grown to know and love.  LTJ Bukem’s lyrically liquid set cemented a place for drum and bass within underground festival culture and that MCs like Armanni Reign with a cathartic cadence and powerfully placed punchlines are what can make a great set fantastic.  The evening ended with the musical storytellers for a new generation as Papadosio’s effortlessly excellent Indie Folk sound, with an electro twist and a wonderful message.

 Rising and Shining while adjusting to the time change on Saturday morning, the lot of us made a collective decision to get out and hit a gem show or two and I’m beyond the moon that we did.  Gigantic geodes, glistening quartz and sparking carborundum adorned the hotel rooms and lobbies all over Tucson – part of the reason it’s actually difficult to book rooms to stay for the Festival itself is that the majority of the hotels play host to pop up shops from around the globe, ranging from India to China, Alaska to South America.  Wandering through the rooms, we manhandled stone after stone (they’re minerals) pining for sparkles, air bubbles, and ribbons of rainbow all the while breathing in the bartering culture of the gem and crystal world in search of the best deals, and boy – we found some beautiful ones! As we left for the festival grounds, we were down a group member – and already felt a little incomplete without their witty one liners, pleasant demeanor and creative prowess they perpetually bring to the situation.

For the first time in 9 years, the Gem and Jam Festival sold out on Saturday evening – capping the party population at 5,000 beautifully bouncing bodies – we lucked out, snagging an extra ticket for our friend Jimmy, an up and coming photographer with an exceptional eye for beauty and an urge to learn on the fly.  With the night’s interstellar lineup, no one could blame the troupe of ticket hunters fiending to gain entry until the festival ended at 1 AM.  From start to finish, the day packed a one-two punch of funky bass and layered harmonies as Tasty Treat and Adem Joel kicked off the day’s music.  Congregation, cooperation and novel creation were the name of the game as acts from Denver’s electronic instrumental duo Lost Optical, Ill-esha expertly fusing live vocals with the violin while Zion I’s Amp Live brought in a fresh spin on Hip Hop.

The classically trained Russ Liquid teamed up with friend Andrew Block on guitar for the debut performance of Stupid Americans, fully equipped with squishy bass, intricate production value and the pristine influence of pure instrumentation of Russ getting down on that harmonically sexy trumpet. How you follow an act like that is beyond me, but leave it to the musical genius of Thriftworks to figure that out.  After giving a heartfelt shout-out to both his grandmother, who used to attend the Gem Festival, and his aunt and uncle who were roaming the grounds, Terry D swooped down on the crowd; causing faces to melt and minds to explode with his unique and unprecedented distorted dubstep stylings.  As the set moved between tracks from Fade, Fadest and Deviation, Russ Liquid reappeared for a Trumpet cameo as the duo got down for a performance of their first ever song together, Jerry’s Lament.

In polar opposition to the previous sets of Russ Liquid and Thriftworks, Random Rab washed a tranquil mood over the rambunctious Saturday night crowd, as many enjoyed his music cuddled into friends on the soft dirt. The best piece of news I got the whole festival was that Late Night Radio was no longer overlapping with the Michal Menert Trio, because you know that the Super Best Records Team, including Krooked Drivers, was looking to support their own. We darted, danced and dashed through the crowd to a tepidly humid, small, indoor stage;  dimly lit, slightly humid and flush with lasers, you couldn’t help but feel like you were going through a rabbit hole and into an underground warehouse party. For an extra special birthday set, Late Night Radio threw the party of the night as he injected new life into old school hip hop beats, intermingled with the electric, live guitar sounds of friend and peer Kevin Donohue from Sunsquabi. Every so often, LNR – known to friends as Alex Medellin – taunted and teased the crowd with a good time, asking the animated crowd for requests, even indulging us in a remix of Lettuce coming out imminently.

Continuing with the Super Best Music Crew, the label’s founder – Michal Menert – had a special treat in store, bringing hometown friends Marcelo Moxy, AC Lao and Dwayne “JuBee” Webb to pick up what he was putting down in a once in a blue moon Michal Menert Trio.  Conjoined in musical prowess, they collectively brought the house down, swaying between tracks off of Menert’s latest solo album Elements, as well as his latest project with friend and music aficionado Paul Basic as Half Color.  The pure beauty of Emancipator emanated, as they enlisted the whole ensemble – including a menagerie of fire dancers, acro yogis and all over stage candy – for a beautiful end to the second night.  With Doug Appling at the reigns, joined by violinist Ilya Goldberg, drummer Colby Buckler and Peter Thatch on bass, the music ebbed and flowed like a love story, starting slow and building into a passionate, pulsating frenzy; just to throw it out there: if they could always play as an Ensemble from now on, that’d just be fantastic.  

The crowd got comfortable as the main stage came to a lull,- reminiscing with new friends and old about the wondrous adventures, moments of hilarity and incredible musical talent of the evening.  As the festival tapered out, anyone with a party itch could scratch it in either the Silent Disco on site or at an after party Solar Culture in Downtown Tucson. Absolutely no one was in a rush to leave, with vendors lining the walkways out, friendly faces and plenty of people camped in their car – it almost felt like a camping festival, even though it definitely wasn’t. 

After two amazing, but exhausting days of wonderful art and music, it was finally time for the coup de grâce in the form of Sunday Funday.  As we rolled into our last day of the festival, we noticed a relaxed mood had washed over the crowd as they lazily strolled through the entrance.  Not intending on staying the whole weekend, Jimmy had resigned himself to making new friends and enjoying the vendors around the outskirts of the festival – but Danny, being the gentleman he is, had a much better idea.  After a little sweet talking, a couple generous bear hugs and flashing a handsome smile – Jimmy and Danny waltzed over with an extra bounce in their step, presenting Jimmy’s wristband.  We jumped up and down like the giddiest of school children, hugging and laughing our way inside the festival with appreciative smiles and shit eating grins. It’s one thing being able to live your own dream, but letting three of your friends do the same – that’s a priceless feeling I won’t soon forget.

Kaminanda and Little People set an exquisitely beautiful vibe on the main stage, and had the crowd in a perfect musically induced daze, swaying back and forth while forgetting they’d spent the last two days entirely on their feet. Giraffage had the grounds goin’ up on a Sunday with a remix heavy set that brought us all back to middle school.  Trance finally had a place at Gem and Jam as we danced around to ATB, and then a slew of other songs that we were pinching each other back stage as we danced around: Better Off Alone, Miley Cyrus’ Party in the USA, Baja Men’s Who Let The Dog’s Out and last but definitely not least, the Ignition Remix – because it was the freaking weekend, and we were having some fun. UK’s The New Mastersounds offered a fresh big band sound, while final evening closed out with an emotive and lyrical Dubstep set from Phutureprimative.

Once you throw in the incredibly human element of Jam Music, or live instrumentation as almost every group over the weekend exemplified, you allow room for mistakes; music finally can imitate life’s imperfections, as life all too often imitates art. They allow mistakes, they falter and shine a the same time while the crowd wouldn’t know the wiser; they’re a mirror, paralleling life – resonating the love of the community right back into our ears. We build the world up only to burn it down and rebuild again, we rejoice at each other’s triumphs and pick each other up as well fall; as a community, we’re fully aware that we’re only as strong as our weakest link and through that, we choose to educate, integrate, appreciate each other in ways that some people still have no idea are possible.

The Gem and Jam Festival is where you find a conscious creative community who embrace humble rock stars, not the press play all stars – as Menert calls them. Roaming through the festival grounds, through the vendors and into the food court, you could reach out and touch your favorite musicians and chances are, they were just as thankful for your interaction as you were with theirs. Each and every artists I had a chance to talk to has a beautiful soul and intelligent vision of their craft; I’m honored to have shared the weekend with the lot of them and cannot wait to see where their careers take them next.

Gem and Jam is a unique experience that inspires your mind while moving your feet, from start to finish it’s one of – if not the-  best run festivals I’ve ever had the opportunity to attend.  A few thank you’s to some special people that I encountered this weekend: To Cody for the Cherry Picker ride, I had to get over my fear of heights somehow.  To Luke and the Tsunami Media Team for a seamless, lovely weekend that I couldn’t help but gush to everyone back home about.  To Harmonic Light for an incredible long exposure photo experience. To non profits like Dance Safe, that ensure the safety, intelligent decisions and education is available to everyone. To Michal Menert and the Super Best Records crew for being an inspiration to rise to greatness.  To Russ Liquid and Thriftworks for ensuring weird is new normal, and to the rest of the artisits for providing enough audiovisual candy to give me a sweet tooth, hugging me and letting me gush about how amazing I think you are – I’m probably never going to stop being a fangirl, and I think that’s a beautful thing; to the fans, because this wouldn’t be the same without any of you – because let’s face it, I am one of you.  Last, but certainly not least – thank you all for the scream laughter and instant friendships, for swapping art and trading hugs, for the Hunch Punch, the ‘Hey, Nerds!’, the buff jobs (that I didn’t get, but got to live vicariously through and that was good enough), for the people giving good mustache and excellent smiles, selenite crystal unicorn horns and hometown hospitality.

The Gem and Jam Festival implored me to understand that great individuals are great because they can raise the vibrations of the outlying community while remaining true to themselves; each and every artist that graced the stage at the festival, whether musician, painter or dancer, was so thrilled and humbled to be sharing the essence of their being with us.  Let life imitate art and attack the day with the same passionate wanderlust that they instill within us.  We live in an inspiring, intimate artistic community with not just an overwhelming desire to create – but to share, collaborate and learn.  Art is our religion, it’s out tradition, our culture – our craft and our trade. It’s about cohesive collaboration, and we can only shine by making those around us shine. There’s a material world that we’ve built around us, while trying to convince ourselves that our ends justify the mundane means of everyday life.  We push, inspire and beseech ourselves to express, extrapolate and push the creative boundaries of our existence – all to discover that where we are, is exactly where we need to be, but that we wouldn’t be who we were if it weren’t for the community that raises us up.  Between the exquisite live art from a variety of mediums and personalities and exceptional jam band music, we more than got our rocks off.  If you’re looking for a sun soaked adventure to the South West in the heart of Winter, I highly implore you to permanent marker in the Gem and Jam Festival for next February.

Check out the Full Facebook album, shot by Daniel Leist Photography

For more on the Gem and Jam Festival itself, check out their socials:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


[The Audiofiles] LIB ’14: Let The Beauty We Love Be What We Do

“Let the beauty you love be what you do;
There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the Earth”

DJ Tennis at the Woogie

Dirt Devil Sized Woogies

Between the epic amounts of live music and menagerie of performers – from stilt walkers to fire dancers and back to the artists live painting  as part of The Do Art Foundation’s ‘Lightning in a Paintcan‘, the Lightning in a Bottle music festival has consistently and gracefully walked a thin line between Burning Man, where the festival draws it’s transformative inspiration, and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where The Do Lab’s been curating their own bass heavy, freak friendly stage for the past decade.  Originally held in the sprawling Live Oak Campground in Santa Barbara where Lucidity Festival has been located for the last several years, Lightning in a Bottle’s been jumping around Southern California from Oak Canyon Ranch in Silverado in ’10 to Lake Skinner in Winchester for last year’s festival – all in search of a location they can continue to call home; and with the new location situated halfway plush in the hills of Monterey County between their devoted underground music communities of the Bay Area and Los Angeles  – it feels like they’ve finally found it on the North Shore of Lake San Antonio.

This guy was doing it right.

As with any year, this location wasn’t without it’s challenges – this wasn’t a festival that happened to have a camping option, this was a pretty rough and rugged camping trip that seemed to organically create a music festival inside of itself; and unlike previous years, the camping was intertwined with the festival grounds.  So, whether this was your first LIB or your third – everyone was met with new environmental challenges. Some people came prepared to let loose at a festival for five days, and just happened set up some tents while they did it – others came prepared to really rough it and set up camp for the weekend and happened to enjoy a festival while doing so.

As we waited in line for the mass exodus on Monday afternoon, dirt stained smiles and glistening eyes gave away the Thursday crowd that’d planned for Lightning in a Bottle for months – alternatively, complaints of heat exhaustion, distances to the stages paired with an overall lack of filth emanated from attendants that showed up with a last minute ticket Saturday morning unprepared for the mayhem and the magic. From Thursday when the majority of campers arrived through Monday afternoon when the majority left, we dealt with a high of 100°, a low of 49° (thats more than a 50° shift) and winds of up to 34 mph. If you were there, take a moment and brush that dirt off your shoulders – because there’s an actual chance with all those dust storms and dirt devils that there’s just a little bit still left over somewhere from the weekend, no matter how many times you shower or do laundry.  For those of you that have attended Burning Man, you’re well aware that the weather conditions at Lightning in a Bottle are nothing to joke at – and are at par, if not slightly more intense than last year’s Playa conditions.

Though held at Lake San Antonio, the lake was dry and the lake beds were converted into expansive camping space as well as two renegade stages – The Ditch, and The Drift; the former of which was hosted by Distrikt and now has it’s own Facebook page and the later was basically in my front yard and hosted surprise sunrise sets from the Desert Dwellers and Random Rab.  And for those that are still feeling the hills in their legs and thighs – there’s another reason to pat yourself on the backs, earlier this month on the South Side of Lake San Antonio, the Wildflower Triathlon was held for it’s 32nd year in a row.
Formerly a Chumash Reservation, Lake San Antonio is currently 30 miles from both a Recruiting station as well as an Army Base. Unbeknownst to festival attendants, residents of Bradley were given free entrance to the festival so they could experience the event firsthand and jump to their own conclusions about our intentions.  The second night of the festival, a rugged older gentlemen with an adorably welcoming olive green yoda beanie stumbled into my campsite and sat down with my friends and I.  After a small and socially awkward conversation, we realized that not only was he a resident of Bradley – but a US Army Vet with a conservative viewpoint and at that very moment time – a staunch representation of the reason transformational festivals are so important:

Well, I showed up in my camouflage hunting cap but that felt so out of place, so after looking around at the vendors I found something I was excited to wear – I lean to the right, but I have some real right wing friends and I can’t wait to show it off around them.

I didn’t know people could be so wonderful.  Originally, I didn’t want the festival here because I thought it would be a group of ignorant kids trashing the environment.  ” He admitted, “But now that I’m here, I see people throwing away their trash and looking after one another. This is a special group of individuals. There’s amazing live music, and the art! There’s so much art being created and being explored; I hope they have LIB here again next year, but if they don’t – I still want to go, and I’ll even pay for it.”

The Courtyard / Giggle Juice Cafe

The three main stages of the weekend – The Lightning Stage, The Bamboo Stage and The Woogie – each had such a unique feel and draw, which brought about three different types of musical crowds. Back at the road, back where the festival land starts is the Bamboo Stage – let’s think of this as your ‘One Night Stand’ or ‘Spring Fling’. You go there for a reason: you want to get your head warped and you feel an overwhelming urge to get hit with an epic bass drop; it hits hard, it’s sexy, it wobbles, shakes, can get sweet for a second but overall – the Bamboo stage is pure debauchery.

What So Not





From the time Filabusta opened the stage at noon on Friday until the final set on Sunday, when The Gaslamp Killer gave everyone a lesson in Low End Theory as he hit them with the sound of an Earthquake – what happened at the Bamboo Stage was unprecedented, revolutionary and magical. Sunday afternoon was the hottest day of the festival both temperature wise (99) and musically.  From start to finish, the stage was stacked and hosted the surprise set of the whole weekendstarting with  Late Night Radio opening to a rapidly growing crowd.  There might be a limited dancing, but believe me, each and every last inch of shade was taken up by an eager crowd that didn’t care about a dancefloor.  Plantrae followed the only way he knew how, a melodic dubstep set layered with a live electric violin – the skills!   Other notable sets of the weekend came from What So Not, Cashmere Cat, who turned up the sexy on Saturday night, and Baauer who payed proper tribute to the Rap and Hip-Hop influences so readily heard in EDM.


Beats Antique Closing the Lightning Stage

The Lightning Stage is the ‘Long term, Serious Relationship’ stage: It’s moving, emotional, light hearted, romantic – but serious, committed (And if it’s Amon Tobin, it can be straight aggressive).  And just as anything emotionally important, the stage was tucked deep into the heart of the festival and was chalk full of emotionally moving music all weekend long.  Between amazing live experiences from Norwegian trio Kraak & Smaak, The Do Lab’s own Lucent Dossier Experience, Chet Faker and Phantogram as well as headlining sets from Gramatik and Gold Panda; each and every artist told a story, strung together beautifully and deliberately.

On Friday night, Moby threw a party straight out of a rave 5 years ago – as we shimmied up to the stage,  Infinity 2008 (Klauss Remix): Guru Josh Project: was blaring from the speakers – a bouncy, fun moment – but not what I had in mind when I chose LIB.  On Saturday, Amon Tobin threw an exceptionally well DJed party for himself and didn’t seem to mind that literally no one in the crowd was moving a muscle to the heavy, aggressive and industrial Drum & Bass tracks.  In contrast, The Polish Ambassador’s Sunset set on Friday night had everybody movin’ and groovin’ to his fresh beats, including the jumpsuited passe he habitually brings on stage with him and Beats Antique closed the festival with a visually stunning performance, getting the entire crowd – including local police officers – to get weird with friends and neighbors alike as they danced their cares away for one last night.

The Polish Ambassador at Sunset

Last but definitely not least, just a hop, skip and a jump across “The Ditch” – there’s that Woogie – your little sultry, sexy, little thing on the side where you go when you want to dance your cares away. From noon til midnight, Friday through Sunday, the Woogie was movin’ and groovin’ to deliciously deep house thanks to a brand new sound system from Pure Groove Audio.

Simian Mobile Disco holding down the Woogie

As the torch was passed from Los Angeles resident Tara Brooks to Maxxi Soundsystem and the bassline for ‘Regrets We Have No Use More’ came on, the dance floor exploded in energy; only to be topped by DJ Tennis, Damian Lazarus and the Dirtybird legend himself, Sir Claude VonStroke.  The jams continued into Sunday night where Lee Burridge played an All Day I Dream Set during the final sunrise and Simian Mobile Disco whipped up a seductive, old school set and reminded the crowd why they’re one of the best DJ duos in the business; simply put – if we ‘Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat’, they ‘Wake Up, Make Dope Music, Go To Sleep’


One thing I found – even though my days and nights were packed with activity, I felt like I both saw it all and saw absolutely nothing of the camp grounds.  On the first night during Ryan Hemsworth’s set at the Bamboo Stage, we jumped on the shuttle to Camp 13 (The RV Camp), because….well….just because – and it let us see just how expansive the festival grounds really were; absolutely astounding.If you had time between sets, you could wander into the vendor area to ease your hunger pains or get your fix of adorable festival worthy gear including Spirit Hoods, Jammy Packs, Electro Fur and amazing jewelry from the team at Third Eye Pinecones. As far as food was concerned, it’s a camping trip – so it’s always recommended to bring your own.  That said, the event offered some amazing food options ranging from Vegan to Vegetarian, and even Pescetarian if you were lucky enough to find the mouth watering sushi.  Between the breakfast burritos, seaweed salad, pizza fresh from the Do Lab’s Dough Lab that I’d gladly purchase any day of the week and smoothies – you could have your cake and eat it, too.  I’m all for conscious eating, so this was a great time to actively engage in the practice – but at the end of the trip, all I could think about was bacon.  Next year, if my camp plans a little better – we’ll just bring our own bacon, cook it – and add it to the breakfast burrito; hunger problem, solved.

Though it wasn’t as heavily advertised as the main lineup, other stages boasted smaller, but equally talented musical acts. San Francisco’s Silent Frisco hosted an after hours silent disco for the event once the main stage music had ended. San Diego’s Vokab Company and The Herbert Bail Orchestra wowed The Grand Artique – another alternative source of music for the weekend.  One wandering through the area was enough to delight and amuse the festival at large – with a mock election for Mayor, and a hidden speakeasy with some deliciously free pickle bottoms if you happened to know the password, or Joaquin Murrietta.

During the day, The Temple hosted talks from Bashar and Lucent Dossier Experience creator and Lightning in a Bottle co-founder Dream Rockwell.  Author Daniel Pinchbeck spoke on his book ‘Breaking Open The Head’ – a personal favorite’, Moby gave his thoughts on art as therapy and Youtube creator Chad Hurley divulged his secret recipe for following your dreams. Each night after the speeches were over, the venue hosted music – Wildlight – the emotive sideproject from The Polish Ambassador and Ayla Nereo – wowed the crowd early Saturday morning.  Sunday evening the was curated by up and coming Los Angeles locals, The Luminaries who brought in The Human Experience to close with a moving set on Sunday morning.

Wildlight at The Temple


Beyond the large, ornate and often fire engulfed art sculptures – thanks to The Do Art Foundation, easels scattered throughout Lake San Antonio filled with color as the festival grounds filled with happy campers.  A menagerie of local artists, including Vyal, Andrew Knights, Anthony West and Max Neutra, used inspiration from the festival to create paintings displayed at a showcase Sunday night of the festival, fully equipped with a silent auction. All proceeds go directly to the artists and a small percentage will go to supporting the public arts through the foundation, run by The Do Lab.

“This was my second year live painting at LIB and once again I was blown away by the amount of love and dedication that goes into LIB. Painting at LIB allows me to paint in a wonderful setting, converse with strangers about a variety of subjects and consequently feel true connectedness, spirituality and healing. When I paint I try to put the feeling of the music or talk into my work! Last year my painting evolved with the music I heard from the two stages I was I between. This year I positioned myself by the temple of consciousness and my painting slowly evolved into a psychedelic mandala! My surroundings inspire the direction of my work! I love how LIB allows me to push my work into new frontiers. The energy at the festival is my souls food!” – Andrew Knights


Andrew Knghts with wife Amanda by his finished masterpiece

On Monday afternoon, as the temperature crawled past 100 – and everyone, for lack of a better term, was miserable.  As I looked around, I thought of everything  could do – I asked the Do Lab to turn the hoses back on, but they were busy – and rightfully so – trying to delicately tear down the Woogie. So I did the only thing that came to mind – grabbed a friend, unloaded squirt guns from our luggage, reloaded them with water and aimed them at the three hour line waiting for a shuttle that felt like it would never come.  Slowly, a collection of unspoken frustrated faces instantly lit up with excitement as they were drenched with some of the free water that was provided to the camps all weekend. A two person team became an eight person army, filling misters and hoses – bringing about smiles and laughs, camaraderie and community.

For five days – we camped under stars and a clear sky, told our darkest secrets to strangers and our deepest dreams to friends, laughed at the sight of bubbles and cried when we ran into an unexpected friend. We’ll always light up when ever we hear the words ‘Woogie’, ‘Drift Party’ or ‘Picklebacks’ and howling as the sun goes down might become second nature.  We weathered dust storms and heat waves with smiles on our faces and a bounce in our step.  Whether we met or not, if you were at Lightning in a Bottle – we’re forever bonded by this event.

As we left our beautiful, blissful weekend to returned to reality Monday evening, we were all confronted with current, tragic events in Santa Barbara.  For those of you that are new to the LIB Family, the festival community and the and Santa Barbara are incredibly close knit –  the Live Oak Campground where Lucidity Festival was held this past year played host to Lightning in a Bottle back from ’06 to ’08.  This past weekend was a beautiful, necessary and touching reminder that humanity at its core is wonderful, creative, giving and ever evolving. We build communities and families together, we help our weak and empower our strong. we dance with friends and laugh with strangers, we battle the elements and wish on stars.

We aren’t trying to say that it was the perfect conditions for the festival, but I’d like to argue that it was the perfect storm. The dry lake beds were more than we bargained for, but where some people lamented the exercise – others gleefully ran across, some holding hands, others  balancing ornate sculptures on their chins or giving their friends a piggy back ride – and some of us, including myself, had dance parties in the middle of the ditch and made new friends.  We’re a problem solving community that works together, in the moment, to find the best solution.  We’re strong, charismatic, energetic and whimsical with a lead by example attitude where no stranger is left behind.  Strangers instantly evolve into a camp, a tribe – a family.  People watch out for each other with flashlights, buy two drinks instead of one because they know if they’re thirsty – someone else has to be, too.

Every single person at Lightning in a Bottle – from your best friend to your camp neighbors, stilt walkers to the burlesque show at Amori’s Casino, the painters from ‘Lightning in a Pantcan’, costumed actors who stayed in character all weekend and the musicians themselves – each and every individual has a unique gift to share with the world. And we’ve proudly staked our claim as an empathetic band of weird and wacky humans just itching for our chance to give back.

As with any collective, as humans – we’re only as strong as our weaknesses; the time is now to explore your gifts and give back to the community that’s provided your personal inspiration.  It’s not the ‘Maybe Lab’ – it’s the Do Lab; do it with love, and do it now – there’s a whole family of people that can’t wait to see what happens next.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead


Sunrise Set: Desert Dwellers with some Ditch Dwellers


My Loves


Hosed Down during Plantrae

A huge thank you to The Do Lab, The Confluence, the Do Art Foundation and the extended Lightning in a Bottle family for such a  beautiful weekend. For every dollar donated to the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, The Do Lab will match the donation.  Please visit The Chumash Sanctuary Website for more information.

Lightning in a Bottle: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

The Do Lab: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud | Youtube

Photography Credit: Daniel Leist

[The Audiofiles] Required Listening for Lightning in a Bottle ’14



I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning with a huge bounce in my step and a smile on my face; why, you ask? Because I can count down the days until Lightning in a Bottle on my fingers and toes! As of today, there are only 15 days left until my favorite music festival; 15 days until I leave the ‘real world’ of Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 jobs that leave us yearning for some semblance of self satisfaction; 15 days until I cruise up to the San Antonio Camp Grounds up on the Central Coast of California for a weekend of fun, sun, beautiful people and wonderful vibes.  After last year’s amazing experience at Lightning in a Bottle, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to cover the event for The DJ List and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  So, with 15 days left until the big weekend – I give you the 15 acts you have  to see.



Back when I first set eyes on the LIB’14 flyer, I recognized less than half of the artists on the bill – which is better than last year’s lineup, where I probably knew about a third of the acts pre-festival.  In an effort to educate my eardrums, I decided to start from the bottom right corner where the lesser known acts resided and work my way up to the top where mainstream headliners like MobyPhantogram and Little Dragon sit comfortably. Beyond the fact my taste in music has evolved over the last year, what I realized while winding myself through the lineup is that there’s just so much good music out there to discover for everyone.  From Goa and Psy-Trance to Ambient Chillscapes, Glitchy Dubstep to Liquid Drum and Bass, and Funky Deep House to Nu-Disco Soul Music – this year’s lineup for Lightning in a Bottle absolutely has something for everyone’s taste in music.



Late Night Radio: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | The DJ List

When I started rummaging through the line-up, I had no idea that my plan to make it from bottom to top in a day at the office would be thwarted.  Not by the fact I had a meeting, or a heavy workload – but because third from the bottom is Late Night Radio and once I started listening, I simply couldn’t stop.  Even though my heart has found it’s way into an EDM groove over course of the past decade, Hip-Hop and Rap have a way of speaking directly to my soul – and that bassline, oh, that bassline – it most certainly was the gateway drug that converted me to Electronic Music.  So, when I started grooving to the Vinyl Restoration series from LNR –  I was absolutely sold.  Known to friends as Alex Medellin, LNR effortlessly blends ambient Electronic instrumentals with a Neo-soul, Hip-Hop groove – and the result is absolutely insatiable.  Hands down, he’s my #1 Must See at LIB.

TouristWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | The DJ List

Admittedly, I’m a sucker for remixes – reworks, really – if you want to get down to brass tax. There’s a guy on Soundcloud who goes by Virgin Magnetic Material and he’s known for his masterful mix downs of hit songs. My first Tourist track reminds me of VMM in the best of all possible ways – it was ‘Your Girl’, a rework of the 90’s song from Aaliyah. The more I tore into his discography, the more I fell in lust with his downtempo, melodic and sometimes eerie, Deep House vibe. One of my personal favorites right now is ‘I Can’t Keep Up’ featuring the vocal stylings of Will Heard; it’s absolutely breathtaking.

The Polish Ambassador: : Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | The DJ List

WildlightFacebook | Soundcloud | The DJ List

Even though TPA is half of Wildlight, it’s difficult to put them into the same category of music – unless that category is called: awesome.  The Polish Ambassador excells at working the festival crowd and has made a name for himself through his funky fresh remixes of jams like ‘No Diggity’ and ‘Girl Control’; Wildlight, on the otherhand, is a side project with the amazingly talented Ayla Nereo that fuses her ethereal voice with earthy instrumentals, creating what I can only describe as World Music that your parents could appreciate.  They’re two drastically different sounds, but they’re equally moving – and I highly recommend catching both.



Lee BurridgeWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud| The DJ List

Ask anyone who’s attended any All Day I Dream event, and they’ll all gush the same thing: Lee Burridge is an expert at throwing day parties.  From the beautiful vibes his smile elicits, his “Get Weird” attitude, right on to the lovely house grooves coming off the decks – Lee’s Sunday set will undoubtedly attract all of the Deep House fanatics at LIB.

Slow MagicWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | The DJ List

My first Slow Magic discovery was the song ‘Youth Group’ – a synth heavy, melodic anthem that makes you want to stomp around. Since then, I’ve been dabbling in all things SM and it’s been getting me really amped for their set!

Maxxi Soundsystem: Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | The DJ List

A few Summers ago, I had what I’d like to call a ‘Love Affair’ with Deep House. It was perfect for lazy Summer days by the pool where you didn’t want to move an inch, or lazy Sunday afternoons where you were soaking in memories of the weekend. But at the time, what Deep House didn’t do for me was move my body. Thank goodness my friends introduced me to Maxxi Soundsystem. Their music is an infectious, rumbling journey into the melodic side of deep house – trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed.


Random RabWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | The DJ List

Back a few months ago at King King, I got my first introduction to Random Rab and immediately, I was hooked. Most music – I can describe fairly well, but Random Rab provides almost meditative, downtempo soundscapes that you can drift into a daydream with.

Kraak & SmaakWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | The DJ List

I have an incredibly vivid memory from How Sweet It Is ’09 – Fedde Le Grande was headlining the Main Stage, but because of capacity issues – officers on horseback ushered us away from the main tent and told us to find another stage. Keep in mind, this is when I was firmly planted in Electro House and Progressive Trance – and the thought of going to the Neon Gardens or Bass Pod at the time almost terrified me. Immediately, some fast friends of ours noticed our shift in mood and announced that they were going to introduce is to something magical and mindblowing. As we shuffled into an almost empty tent, our ears were full of live instruments and MCs – it was all so brand new, so exciting and so beautiful. Between SHY FX, Booka Shade and Kraak & Smaak – I was introduced to so much good music that night that’s since then, heavily influenced my life. Their epic hit ‘Squeeze Me’ gives me goosebumps to this day; I can’t wait to see K&S again now that I’m familiar with their catalog.

Desert DwellersWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | The DJ List

If you’re opening for Shpongle, chances are – your music is insanely progressive. When Shpongle graced the stage at Avalon last month, they brought friends and fellow Goa/Psy Trance aficionados Desert Dwellers with them as their opening act and it was absolutely perfect. Slightly more downtempo than Shpongle, DD creates gorgeous ambient soundscapes that you can effortlessly lose yourself in but with just enough bass and harmony where you can dance to your heart’s content.



PumpkinFacebook | Twitter | Soundcloud |The DJ List

Hands down, Pumpkin was one of my top five sets from last year. I have to hand it to the Gent, he really knows how to get the crowd movin’ to the music. A Los Angeles local, Pumpkin’s been in high demand within the festival circuit at Coachella, Sea of Dreams as well as Lightning in a Bottle over the years. Just take a five minute peak into his set at LIB and you’ll more than see why!

Dimond SaintsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | The DJ List

Dimond Saints is the brain child of Trip-Hop phenom An-Ten-Nae & friend ReLeece. For the last few months, they’ve been pushing hit after hit out to the Hypem charts and I’m really diggin’ what I’m hearing them put down. An-Ten-Nae threw down one hell of a set at Sea of Dreams as LowRiderz with Laura Low and has more then proved himself as a versatile artist and producer. He’s definitely going to be one to watch over the next few years.

ThriftworksWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | The DJ List

The first time I heard of Thriftworks was through the Sea of Dreams lineup, and now I just can’t get enough of him. Somewhere in between the down-tempo Glitches and Trip-Hop beats, I lose myself in the music; some Thriftworks in the afternoon sun sounds simply perfect.


Claude VonStrokeWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | The DJ List

One thing’s for sure – there ain’t no party like a Dirty Bird party, cause a Dirty Bird party don’t stop! On NYE at Sea of Dreams, I saw Worthy and J.Phlip hold it down for the Dirty Bird crew – and now, I’m excited to see the Big Papa of the crew back on the decks! I saw him at Avalon back in ’12 and I’ve been itching to see him ever since. J.Phlip will also be in attendance for LIB, fingers crossed we’ll see some back to back Dirty Bird action goin’ down at the Woogie stage!

Beats AntiqueWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | The DJ List

The first time I saw Beats Antique was back in ’08 when they opened for Bassnectar at the El Ray; that was right around the time that my mind was expanding exponentially with new music. No longer was it just House and Trance for me; all of a sudden – there were new, glitchier, funkier, grimier, more industrial sounds to explore – and Beats Antique was my first real introduction to them. At the time, I called it ‘great music to ride a horse to’ and while slightly ignorant, I still hold to my statement; Beats Antique elicits a bohemian bazaar feeling that immediately transports me back hundreds of years with their ‘World Music’ inspired sounds.

Tickets for Lightning in a Bottle are selling like hot cakes, so be sure to get yours now before they’re sold out – this is one weekend you don’t want to miss out on; trust me, I’m a festie.





[Artist Spotlight] Late Night Radio



For the last few weeks while I’ve been moving, I’ve been making a point of slowly but surely migrating from the bottom right of the Lightning in a Bottle flyer up to the top left just so I could really understand the entire breadth of the line-up.  I made it about three lines up until I had to stop myself because my ears were swimming with a new sound; something that found it’s identity somewhere between the groovy rhythms of MoTown Soul, the raw emotions of Hip Hop and our new age electronic influences. Originally from Houston but now residing in Denver, Late Night Radio – known to friends as Alex Medellin – puts a fresh take on old favorites; transforming classics into revamped masterpieces in incredible Vinyl Restoration series as well as his EP’s – Far Into The Night and Concrete Collage.  They’re so funky and retro, but with a unique flare of Electro Soul that keeps you dancing minute after minute.

Each time I’ve gone back to the lineup, I find myself going right on back to LNR – and each time I listen to his mixes, I find a new moment to covet or song to obsess over.  I’ve even converted my boyfriend and our housemate into fans – and as it stands, we’re more excited about LNR at LIB than almost everyone else on the lineup.  His collaborations with Robotic Pirate Monkey are obscenely amazing but I’d have to say, my current favorites are ‘For Dreamers’ – and his latest mix in the VR series.

I can picture it now: a lazy Saturday afternoon in the beautiful, Monterey sunshine – hundreds of smiling faces, of every age and every type of music lover – grinnin’ and groovin’ to some of these LNR sounds…

Keep up with Late Night Radio across their socials –

Website | The DJ List |  Facebook | Soundcloud