By Haddon Libby

The 14th Annual Fall Joshua Tree Music Festival (JTMF) starts Thursday, October 4th and runs through Sunday, October 7th.  The event is held at the Joshua Tree Lake Campground located at 2601 Sunfair Road in Joshua Tree.

While music is a key component to this four day event, JTMF is about more than music – it is about a different way of seeing life.  The event is meant for families of any age who are comfortable with the concept of radical inclusion.  While radical inclusion can mean different things, at its core it is about being non-judgmental of others and living in harmony with your neighbor and nature. 

The judgmental types will say that this sounds like a bunch of hooey.  To them it probably is.  But to the JTMF folks who prefer to live life as happily as possible no matter what their daily challenges may be, it is about turning off a screamy and yelly world that pollutes our brains and world and focusing on the beautiful gifts of love, life and nature.  You see, it is an entirely different perspective on existence.  As such, JTMF is most certainly not for the judgmental, the negative or those who walk through life in a general state of grumpiness or assholerly.*     (* a few words here that I need to copywrite)


Let me walk you through a typical day at Shangrala aka the JTMF.

At 9 am, Walter Winfield leads participants in Qi Qong which incorporates yoga, breathing exercises and the martial arts.  Both before and after Winfield, you will find numerous yoga teachers of various approaches with sessions throughout the day in one of the many shaded practice areas.

Where Festival food is usually pretty bad and awfully expensive, that is not the case here.  Speaking from experience, the coffee shop and smoothie bar are easy ways to start the day.  Quality food choices abound along with an assortment of goodies for those with a sweet tooth.  For those wishing to shop, there are dozens of artisan booths to peruse.

There is a full day of activities for the kids in an area aptly named, Kidsville.  Micaela leads Dance Freedom while members of the Desert Rhythm Project create concerts using the kids.  No, the children are not the instruments but the performers in an impromptu jam session.  FlowBox Circus Troupe entertain with their Circus Game.  Meanwhile, kids are recruited to perform in their very own talent show.  Right around this time, local teens perform songs for children and parents alike.  No kids area would be complete without a bus to commandeer or tables on which to create Rembrandts.  All of this is brought to you by the non-profit, Joshua Tree Living Arts.

Keep an eye open for the “Random Acts of Mindfulness.”  Festival organizers make the first gesture with free rice, beans and beer (for as long as it lasts) during the Festival kick-off Thursday night.  At 5:30pm on Thursday, Mustafa Akbar raps his eclectic mix of soul, funk, reggae and Electronic of all kinds with Spain’s Raul del Moral.  At 6:45pm, Joshua Tree’s version of Bruno Mars’, Gene Evaro, Jr. takes the stage  before the evening concludes with Akbar’s return to the stage with the night’s featured artist, Afrolicious.

Throughout the Festival, there are “Positive Vibration Stations” which include classes on creative movement, drum circles and the exploration of chakras.  You will find the visual arts and artists throughout the festival.  Similarly, the Healing Arts will be on display throughout the grounds.

On the southwest side of the lake (yes, there is actually water) are land conservancy efforts known as “This Land is Your Land” which include a talk on the desert tortoise.

On Saturday and Sunday, music can be heard throughout Festival grounds.

Friday’s music starts at 10am with Sunny War followed by Edith Crash, Tim Easton, Gisella Woo and the Night Owls, locals the Desert Rhythm Project and Earth Arrow.  At 8pm, showman Kelly Finnigan leads the Monophonics in their soulful ways before giving way to Evanoff at 10pm and the ever-interesting Jessika von Rabbit at 11:30pm.

Saturday’s schedule starts at 10am as well with Trevor Green followed by Bells Atlas.  At 1:15pm, do not miss Selah Poitier of the Bahamas who is reminiscent of a young Diana Krall or Esperanza Spalding.  The day continues at 3pm with Whiskerman and Jungle Fire before global superstar and women’s rights activist Fatoumata Diawara of Mali takes the stage at 6:30pm.  She is followed by The Egg of the UK, Matador! Soul Sounds and Everyman.

Sunday gratefully starts later at 10:15am with Gabriella Evaro followed by Myskin Warble.  At 1:15pm, do not miss The Delgres who mix their chunky Delta Blues sound with Caribbean influences.  The Los Angeles duo, Kolars, takes the stage at 3:30pm followed by the world beats of Jupiter & Okwess from Congo.

At 7pm, join the House of Hamsa on their shamonic global odyssey to close out the festival.  McCoy and Fraser combine to play such instruments as the Moroccan bass, a Turkish fretless banjo, an ancient Moroccan three string lute, a West Africa harp, a Persian flute, a pan flutes, a bamboo harmonica from the Bronze Age, an African hand piano, the South African musical mouth bow, jaw harps and many more instruments while sampling and looping their riffs live.

As you can tell, there is more going on than any one article can rightly do justice to.  Visit or just visit the festival itself to find out for yourself!