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This past weekend Moondance Jam in Walker was a huge success as fans filled the entire venue to capacity for Kid Rock on Thursday night.
The theme of Moondance this year surrounded around ships, with the most important being friendships. Bill Bieloh, the founder of Moondance, passed away in 2010. The festival reflected his personality and each year he would often be seen talking with jammers throughout the entire event. He took time to establish strong relationships that became the foundation of success that the festival is built upon. The second Moondance without him had emotional tributes and the largest crowd I had ever seen in my last four times attending.
With growth comes change and Moondance has done both in the short time that I have been attending. It is bigger each year with more people, more venders, and more bands. There were modern bands like Hinder and then classic rock juggernauts like John Fogerty to give a full menu of rock.
With Kid Rock the audience on Thursday night was younger than I had ever seen at previous Jams. The uniform that women wore consisted of cowboy boots, cowboy hat, and extremely short-shorts. It is amazing how short-shorts can still change over the years as they get smaller and tighter. The heat was palpable when Rock took the stage with no room to move anywhere. From the moment you entered the gate at the outer rim it was jam-packed as fans stretched from the stage to the outer walls.
Kid Rock put on a great show and played through many of his new hits and his few older ones from the distant 90s. The crowd ate up anything Rock was serving and continually asked for more. When he finally hit his song, “Bawitdaba” he really stretched out singing, “My name is KKKKKKKKKIIIIIIDDDDDD RRRRROOOOOOCCCCKKKKK!!!” My ears are still ringing from how loud it was up close and the audience was left cheering as he left the stage over an hour later.
John Fogerty headlined Friday night to a slightly smaller, yet more manageable crowd, which made for better vibes. I was more impressed by Fogerty than Rock even though Fogerty was born before my father. Sure Kid Rock has many hits, but who can compare to Fogerty? The guy is a hit machine.
Fogerty’s entire set was one chart-topping song after another with so many in his arsenal that he couldn’t even play them all. One crazy fact about Credence Clearwater Revival, the band that Fogerty founded back in 1967, is that they never had a number one hit in the US. They had several number twos, but never a number one.
The most memorable story from Fogerty came prior to him playing, “Who’ll Stop the Rain”. He explained how it was based on Woodstock and lamented the constant rain he endured. Fogerty joked about how no one had umbrellas at Woodstock and compared the women there to Moondance Jam.
“There were good lookin’ women at Woodstock, but the ladies certainly were not as good lookin’ as this crowd. People were kinda stupid and there wasn’t one umbrella among 500,000 people. So I went home and wrote this song.”
Fogerty has a twang to his California late-60s attitude on stage wearing a plaid-blue flannel and red scarf. The crowd was very into his music and some seemed surprised that the set list was so full of constant hits. “Proud Mary”, “Born on the Bayou”, “Down on the Corner”, “Fortunate Son”, “Up Around the Bend”, and so many more songs ended Friday night on a high note.
One interesting trend I have seen on stage from quite a few bands lately, including Fogerty, is that they have a guitarist who plays the Rickenbacker semi-hollow body electric 12-string guitar. The guitar was made famous by The Beatles’ George Harrison back in 1964 when he was playing a prototype 360/12 model for their song, “I Call Your Name”. It has an extremely distinct sound the way that it tings and twangs, and it fit Fogerty’s music and voice like a glove.
The last night featured Grand Funk and many of their hits followed by Heart. Nancy Wilson attacks the senses on guitar while her sister Ann has a very powerful voice. There was no rust when they performed their hits like “Barracuda” and “Magic Man” from many years ago. Nancy Wilson also has worked extensively with her husband Cameron Crowe on his movies. The music of films like Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous make them so successful.
Moondance is a great festival for many different kinds of concert goers. You can camp out with your friends, you can stay in a hotel and be shuttled when you park, or you can even camp at the Northern Lights Casino parking lot and ride their shuttle. There is a huge lawn chair crowd, VIP backstage access, and many other packages. Visit www.moondancejam.com for more information.