The 17th Annual Fall Joshua Tree Music Festival October 6-9, 2022!

By Lisa Lynn Morgan

Once upon a time, back when “out in the middle of nowhere,” was truly out in the middle of nowhere, a handful of friends joined fellow music junkie, Barnett English, to help him raise the framework for the first Joshua Tree Music Festival (JTMF). Pounding nails out of old boards and recycling them in pieces of art, the stage they built, and its adorned encampment, would ultimately support decades of up and coming, eclectic talent the likes of Elle King, The Avett Brothers, Valerie June, and Trombone Shorty.

Much has changed over the years. The areas around the National Park have become more than a place to drive past en route to somewhere else. The desert provided a place to escape during the pandemic lock downs, exposing greater numbers to its deep magic. There are more lights on the horizon after the sun goes down now, and the night sky is a bit less startling because of it. However, some things remain the same and are seemingly etched in stone: “The desert is freedom, music is power, and community is crucial.”

“This isn’t just a bunch of cool concerts,” a young 30-something mother attending in 2021 explained. As she slathered sun block on her squirming son, Brady, impatient to get back to his friends, she added, “It’s a place where strangers become family, where your soul can be nourished and refreshed. Kids can be happy little kids here, and so can the adults. The world feels good here. We go home feeling connected to the world and more hopeful.”

“Discovering up-and-coming artists has been a lifelong obsession,” Barnett will tell you. “It started when I would go down to Sears on Shelbyville Road in Louisville, Kentucky. I’d buy records for $5 each.” His obsession would be fed at the 100s of music festivals he would attend as a coffee vendor. You could say that Barnett has been training his whole life for this, fine tuning and curating an event that exhibits all the things he loves best about festivals, and implementing what is missing. But it’s the nature of his heart that bleeds into this patch of dirt and makes it truly a significant and powerful experience.

Barnett and his tribe have always been conscious of the human experience, breathing themes of kindness and love into the framework of this biannual congregation. While many other festivals across the country feature a predominantly male cache, the JTMF lineup has always had a decisively diverse collection of artists in all colors, flavors, gender expressions, and languages. The schedule also strongly supports the incredible offerings of local talent; you can chew on the energy that flows off the stages when these artists perform for their JT Music Family.

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After a year of downsizing to support the safety of attendees during the pandemic, this October event celebrates the return towards traditional programming and regular capacity. Attendees can expect:

• More music! Initial lineup has been released with more artists to announced.
• Music all day starting from 10AM on the Cafe Stage, then alternating between Indian Cove and Boogaloo stages so you don’t have to miss a thing.
• A robust schedule of yoga and workshops
• Single Day tickets are available to all (joining for the full 4 days is highly recommended)
• A fantastic schedule of activities for families and their children

As always, the JTMF tribe vigorously supports an environment of safety, respect, and compassion. Masks are not a requirement, but if you want to wear a mask, feel free to do so without being hassled. You might get hassled a bit if you don’t wear pants, but not about a mask. And by hassled, I mean you may be gently directed to the fantastic clothing vendors on premises.

There is something special in the air around the JTMF campus this year. Perhaps it’s the return to their unique kind of “normal,” or an extra sense of gratitude for life on this little music and love oasis. Perhaps so much good has been soaked into the dirt and walls of this sanctuary and its surrounding campgrounds, you can’t help but feel it. One thing is for sure; the Joshua Tree Music Festival experience is something you need to stop reading about and experience for yourself. Come and “Be the Light.”

For details on this festival of music, yoga, inspirational workshops, random acts of mindfulness, art, and activities for the littles, go to

Photos courtesy of Joshua Tree Music Festival

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