The Joshua Tree Music Festival is both about the experience and the music, incorporating braving the elements into an eclectic weekend.
The first year I came to the Joshua Tree Music Festival, I pulled into our campsite and admired how a friend’s tent was as big as a house, only to witness it fly up in air, flip a few times, and snap most of its poles.
This year the wind tested us again, leaving the days beautiful and bearable for most city folk. The camping element and having to earn your keep and make your space — it becomes part of the experience.
The festival spans Thursday night through Sunday night, with the option to camp from Wednesday through Monday. Joshua Tree Music Festival is billed as family friendly, and I can attest that it is. An area called Kidsville hummed all day long with art projects, plays for kids, child yoga, ranger talks, and more. Always a favorite is the “boat ride;” a boat on wheels pulled around the small lake by an ATV. This year a trio of musicians sat at the bow and entertained with a guitar, recorder, and fiddle. The festival is a fantastic way to introduce young children to this free spirit, artistic, music festival world.
But this is truly a music festival full of amazing bands from around the world. It is also an event for the childless and the festival crowd; the thoughtfully curated bands play eclectic, world music, electronic mixed with organic instruments and sounds, performing throughout the day on the four stages, playing music meant for chilling in the morning and dancing, enhanced or not, into the night.
This year, as the evening bands Diggin Dirt and Gene Evaro Jr. played, the areas in front of the stage filled up with the not necessarily “family friendly” normality of any good music festival. A bomb African beats meets hip-hop and rock band Earth Arrow and Dachambo, a Japanese “classic rock” band, with a Digeridoo, played during magic hour as well, entertaining guests of all ages.
One of the best things about JTMF, beside the all day yoga, the delish food options sold around the main music bowl and the unique shops full of handmade costumes and jewelry surrounding it, is that there are just the right amount of people. There is room to breath. The line for that Bloody Mary, the Lagunitas beer, Hard Kombucha, or even the bathroom is never long. There is nothing corporate about it. It is authenticity meeting professionalism.
As we walked through the festival we passed many artists painting canvases day and night. Some carefully worked off of their preplanned sketch, while others seems to change the direction of their piece with the change of the wind. There are many ways and reasons that JTMF can be enjoyed by people; you can be totally in the “camping in the the dirt” part of it or enjoy the musical and artsy fruits it bears out of the elements, and stay in a hotel down the road.
And since it is always about the music, the sound is really good, too.