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John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Kid Rock, Skid Row, Grand Funk Railroad, Heart, Three Days Grace, Hinder, and many other rock bands will be taking the stage and playing their many hits at Moondance 21 in Walker, Minnesota from July 18-21.
Moondance Jam is a four day event held each year in Walker, Minnesota featuring many top performers in rock and roll. What began modestly in 1992 has grown to an event with over 16,000 attendees each year. With an array of packages for every age and type of concertgoer this is the best camp out festival of the summer.
Kid Rock headlines the first official night of Moondance, Thursday at 11pm, to play from his recently released 8th studio album, “Born Free”.
“The catalyst for this record was Detroit, and my thoughts on the world through the lens of Detroit,” Rock said. “Watching everything go downhill over the past few years, the economy, the loss of jobs everywhere, I wanted to make a record that reflected the times but that still had soul.”
Opening for Rock are Skid Row minus Sebastian Bach and Okie-rockers Hinder. Hinder, best known for their hit song “Lips of an Angel”, have sold millions of albums over the past five years. The raspyness and longing in their music crosses genres and has them rising up the charts worldwide.
“We’re all really nice guys — at least we consider ourselves to be real nice, polite people — but at the same time at night, when shots go down and we start drinking, we also have that side,” Cody Hanson of Hinder said. “We’re those guys that are all or nothing. We either don’t do it or just go full steam ahead, at least that’s how I like to live my life. Either put 110% into something or nothing at all.”
On Friday night John Fogerty headlines, with Three Days Grace and Don Felder of the Eagles opening. Felder, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame since 1998, most recently became a New York Times bestselling author with his autobiography “Heaven and Hell” about his life with the Eagles. One of the original five members of the band, Felder plays through all of the Eagles’ hits.
John Fogerty, known for his band Creedence Clearwater Revival, continues to play his hit songs that span several decades. The remaining members of Creedence continue to tour without him, but no one can replace Fogerty’s signature voice and talent. With CCR, Fogerty created “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Who’ll Stop The Rain” to “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Down On The Corner,” “Up Around The Bend” and “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”. When he went solo “Centerfield” became as American as the game it was written about.
Saturday night, the last of Moondance Jam, features Night Ranger, Grand Funk Railroad, and Heart. Night Ranger is of “Sister Christian” fame and reunited in 1996 to carry on their signature 80s sound. Younger generations have also been reintroduced to Night Ranger’s music through video games like Guitar Hero and the popular movie Boogie Nights.
Grand Funk Railroad, one of my favorite bands after seeing them in 2009 at Moondance 18, return this year. Known as one of the quintessential American bands with a theme song to prove it, Grand Funk continue to tour each year.
After GFR was ripped off by their manager in the early 1970s and sold out Shea Stadium faster than the Beatles did, they finally made it big with “We’re an American Band”. Don Brewer, the singer and songwriter behind “American Band”, still rocks the drums and vocals on stage. His energy and charisma have made Grand Funk Railroad one of America’s greatest bands.
Not too long ago Cameron Crowe created the movies Jerry McGuire and Almost Famous. Nancy Wilson, Crowe’s wife, helped create the soundtrack that made those movies so memorable and successful. Teaming up with her sister Ann, Heart takes the stage on Saturday night to close out Moondance Jam 21.
“Crazy on You”, “Magic Man”, “Barracuda”, “Straight On”, and so many more songs secured Heart’s place in rock history. It also opened the door for other female led rock groups who would follow. Not only did the Wilson sisters lead the band, they wrote the songs and played the instruments too, making them the first women in rock to do so. Heart continued topping the charts through the ‘80’s and ‘90’s with huge hits like “These Dreams,” “Alone,” “What About Love,” “If Looks Could Kill,” “Never,” and a string of other hits.
Driving from Duluth is a quick ride and one that brings you through the lake and forest innards of Minnesota. When you arrive at the event the first thing you notice is the finely-tuned system of parking, concert, and camping. You can park and be shuttled from many locations or join the scores of campers who are in a very clean and well groomed campground that sits behind the stage. There is a carnival type of atmosphere for food and drink, and even a large bar behind the main stage that lets you view the buses and bands as they go on stage. The Lazy Moon Bar also features bands playing on an acoustic stage throughout the weekend.
One band that I would recommend seeing on the Lazy Moon Acoustic Stage, Thursday at 4:15 pm, is July Fighter. I spoke with lead singer/songwriter Jimmy Lyback about his Minneapolis-based band and asked him to explain their sound.
“I would best describe July Fighter as a culmination of the classic rock I grew up on,” Lyback said. “From the Beatles, Grand Funk (Best three piece ever in my and my dad’s opinion), the James Gang etc... is where the foundation came from. Then along came SRV and so many other influences from the 90’s all the way to some of our more rockin’ Foo Fighter’s sounding music like “Your Advice”. It’s constantly expanding and morphing, but it stays within a pop culture vein. That is very intentional. The song “Echo” from our first album is a favorite and also one of the crowd favorites at our shows.”
As a festival the overall feeling at Moondance is friendly, relaxed and efficient. You can always find a place to see or just pop up a lawn chair and relax while still being able to see the bands. If you really want pampered treatment you can purchase “Rockstar” or “VIP” status which will give you god-like views from balconies erected on the side of the stage, as well as many other perks.
Give Moondance Jam a try this year. There is camping available and the crowd is, as everyone describes it, like a family. Best of all it is a safe, outdoor venue that allows you to relax and enjoy music at your own pace. If you want to camp out and hang out with that crowd you may. If you want to stay in a hotel and take a shuttle, that is also an option. You can visit www.moondancejam.com for more information.