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Celebrate life. Be kind and caring. Easy enough in theory, right? Is it as effortless in practice? Well, after experiencing it first hand at the 12th Annual Spring Joshua Tree Music Festival, my answer is a resounding YES.

In addition to an incredible music experience, the family friendly, communal event included live art, yoga classes, food, beverages, artwork, crafts, and boutique clothing. Kidsville offered a daily schedule of activities for children – including a pirate ship on wheels that sailed around a lake. With three stages and no overlapping performances, you had the opportunity to enjoy the entire line-up of performers. There were too many bands to mention each one in this short piece, but I will highlight a few.

The Magic Beans out of Nederland, CO kicked off the Festival on Thursday night; the band was full of bluegrassy, playful vibes that had the first night crowd grooving and reveling in the possibilities of the weekend to come.

Friday was chock full of exciting concerts, including Liesl, the Joshua Tree based girl with her bass. Via genuine song lyrics illustrating her life experiences, at times your heart breaks and laughter tumbles out simultaneously. While gifts of cupcakes packaged in “love” boxes are distributed to the crowd, she sings that she gives us cupcakes to make us happy, which in turn makes her happy, so really she is selfishly doing it for herself.

Saturday was just as incredible, with one awesome performance after another. Elle King from New York, NY graced the stage with a smoky, smooth punk sound and sweet demeanor. Elle called attention to her newly purchased skirt and gave a shout out to its creator Shari Elf, a local artist with a booth at the Festival. Shari creates unique fashion and art out of recycled items – think the horrible pink blanket that you hide in the back of your linen closet turned into a fabulous mini-dress with “I LIKE MYSELF” plastered across the front. Elle moseyed through the crowd after her set, giving hugs and smiles; we shared a few laughs and I snagged a couple of shots with her.

As the heat of the day subsided and the sun continued its magnificent desert descent, Kraak & Smaak, out of the Netherlands, kept the party going into the night with their house dance mixes that had the crowd on their feet dancing up a sand storm; it was unavoidable, the beats were contagious. The evening wrapped up with The Selections, a live karaoke band that rocked the night sky and made stars out of everyone who took the stage.

Sunday kept right on rocking; between partner yoga, swinging my cares away on Piper Robison and Gabba Evaro’s “More Love Swings” installation, stuffing myself with Pie for the People and washing it down with Jahlia’s fresh lemonade with muddled lemon basil, my dusty dancing feet became exhausted, and I sadly headed back in the direction of reality.

As I removed the Joshua Tree Music Festival image from the banner on our Arts Connection homepage today, my heart sank a little. The gypsy ease and lighthearted bounce was fading from my step as I walked my dog, Danzig, along the grassy lined streets of Redlands. While he searched for lizards to chase and bugs to eat, he was oblivious of the Festival’s amazing events and the new friends that were made. There’s a leftover piece of Pie for the People chillin’ in the fridge, the hula hoop is on order, and there’s a song in my heart – who cares if only I can hear it?

A huge shout out to all who make the Joshua Tree Music Festivals possible! There were so many incredible offerings throughout the Festival, it was impossible to touch on all of them – so my advice is to experience it for yourself! Save the date and be a part of the fun at the 9th Annual Fall Joshua Tree Music Festival October 9-12, 2014.

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The Garcia Center for the Arts
536 W. 11th Street
San Bernardino, CA 92410

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