Bill Bieloh, of Walker, Minnesota conceived the Jam in 1992 as a way to promote the riding stables he and his wife Kathy own. The event got off to a modest start that first year by featuring a roster of regional bands.
"I think if it's successful, it could become an annual event with an even bigger lineup."
- Brad Walhof
The second year, national artists such as the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Bad Finger, Head East and more, along with an impressive lineup of regional bands highlighted a year of tremendous growth.
"One of the biggest thrills of my life was going on stage and announcing next year's Jam 3."
- Bill Bieloh
Moondance Jam III in 1993 had a decidedly county slant to it. Pirates of the Mississippi, Johnny PayCheck, Evangeline and Gary Puckett performed, along with regional and local bands. This was the first time an event had been held in the Walker area with a large lineup of national recording artists. The modest interest in the turnout for Country artists coupled with poor weather made Jam IV look doubtful.
"There was more excitement and enthusiasm with the classic rock than there was with the country acts."
In its fourth year Moondance Jam came of age. The Jam brought a "Who's Who" of top 40 artists whose hits spanned three decades. The Grass Roots, Guess Who, Survivor, Starship and Kansas along with two nights of great weather and a vastly improved light and sound system drew record crowds and put Moondance Jam on the concert map.
"The sound and lights were just phenomenal and a quantum leap compared to the previous Jams."
- Paul Nye
"The people in Walker really know how to party."
- Jack Jordan
Moondance Jam V featured many prominent national acts. Some of the performers in 1996 included: The Byrds Celebration, Three Dog Night, Mitch Ryder, Starship, Randy Bachman and .38 Special. Poor weather threatened all weekend, but never really let loose. However, the record breaking crowds did let loose and Moondance Jam was on its way to becoming the premiere rock music festival in the Midwest.
"Moondance Jam V, in the eyes of most who attended, continued Bieloh's tradition of improving the Jam each year."
- George Fairbanks
By 1997, more than 35,000 Jammers flocked to the festival and packed the concert site for three days. The increase in numbers was due in part to big headline bands like REO Speedwagon, America, Grand Funk Railroad and Corey Stevens. The other reason was that the word was getting around about the event. So much so that, more than 300 cars had to be turned around at the gate on Saturday night before REO Speedwagon hit the stage.
"This takes a backseat to nobody. What a great thing to be a part of."
- Jack Jordan
The Jam officially became the largest rock festival in the state of Minnesota in 1998. A crowd in excess of 50,000 were entertained and delighted by the likes of Foghat, Jonny Lang and Steve Miller Band on Thursday; John Entwistle (formerly of the Who), Alan Parsons Project, and Yes on Friday; Saturday's lineup of The Romantics, April Wine, Steppenwolf, Eddie Money and Foreigner.
Despite attempts by organizers to upgrade facilities, including an additional 160 acres of parking, the event site and the roads leading up to the fairgrounds were grid locked with traffic stretching back towards Walker for nearly seven miles. As the time approached for Jonny Lang to take the stage many people simply pulled off the side of the road, parked in the ditch and began the long walk to the fairgrounds. Some people walked as far as five miles to reach the Jam site. Despite the gridlock, there was a festive atmosphere among the people as they walked towards the distant sound of music. It was the most remarkable scene in the history of the Jam.
By Friday the problem had been solved and traffic flowed smoothly for the next two days and the bands brought the curtain down on the most successful and acclaimed Jam to date.
"Moondance Jam VII was a smashing success by any measurable yardstick. It was a success in terms of attendance, the weather was beautiful throughout the entire three days and the entertainers themselves seemed to feed off the huge and enthusiastic crowds. There was a sense of excitement and happiness throughout the crowd all weekend."
Two inches of rain fell on the Jam site opening day turning much of the grounds into a muddy mess. The Moondance Jam crew had to shuffle parking, camping, and shuttles to make up for approximately twenty-five percent of the grounds being saturated and to handle the tens of thousands of Jammers who traveled hundreds of miles to party with Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, The Outfield, Hank Williams Jr., Lynyrd Skynyrd, REO Speedwagon, and many others.
Lynyrd Skynyrd was one of the major highlights of Jam VIII, along with The Outfield, the mud, and the nice weather on Saturday.
"We were 100 percent happy with the crowd and the music... The last day saved us and that's the day they will remember. It has to do with classic rock. We get an older crowd and everybody is so cool."
- Bill Bieloh
Moondance Jam 2000 got big performances from the Beach Boys, George Thorogood, STYX, and Peter Frampton among the many prominent national bands who made up the best Jam lineup since it was conceived.
The lineup and perfect weather brought in record breaking crowds to camp, party, and jam the weekend away. Thousands of Jammers were able to park off-site and shuttle to the Jam site and back effortlessly.
"Moondance is made of memories, and memories are what bring this whole event alive."
- Bill Bieloh
The 10th Anniversary of Moondance Jam was highlighted with clear skies, warm temps, and a little twist in the lineup. Classic rockers from the 70's and 80's Ted Nugent, Pat Benatar, CCR, George Thorogood, Night Ranger, & REO Speedwagon were meshed with 90's groups Big head Todd & the Monsters, Blues Traveler, and The Wallflowers.
"We wanted to offer favorites for every generation."
- Bill Bieloh
"A number of Jammers who had been at previous festivals commented this year's crowd was the biggest they had seen. This year's Jam featured a new stage design with more lights and louder sound. Jammers in the dancing area directly in front of the stage were clearly impressed with not only the stage's sound power, but the sound quality as well." -George Fairbanks
For the second straight year, the Jam offered music from the 70's, 80's, and 90's with top performances coming from Journey, STYX, Indigenous, Blondie, The Scorpions, Gin Blossoms, and Loverboy.
"Bill and Kathy want to be sure that everybody who comes here, whether working or just here for the music, has a good time"
- Deb Weimann
Crew & Performer Caterer
A little rain early on, didn't put a damper on the biggest rock 'n' roll party in Minnesota. The Jam produced record crowds for Friday and Saturday. The campgrounds and fairgrounds were more organized then ever making for an incredible experience for most Jammers. Several of the bands even commented that Moondance Jam was a great place to play.
Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar, Boston, George Thorogood, Rick Springfield, Joan Jett, and Joe Cocker were the big names headliners along with a handful of others that put on a fantastic show.
"We do everything we can to make it better than last year."
- Kathy Bieloh
"The thing is about this place, everyone is friendly."
- George Wetherbee
"It's gotten better every year."
- Linda Nelson
Lucky 13 turned out to be all of what its name implied. Four days of perfect weather, great music, and great people.
Record crowds showed up on Wednesday for ZZ Top and seemed to stick around for all four days. The new Moondance Jam Saloon regional stage, the friendly Jammers, and the campgrounds with all of their unique setups and activities were a ton of entertainment by themselves. Add to it all of the fantastic performances from ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Huey Lewis & the News, Rick Springfield, Santana's Gregg Rolie, The Allman Brothers, Pat Benatar, and some of the other lesser known acts, and it became an awesome spectacle. With all that said, it is hard to believe that one performer could steal the show at Lucky 13. For many Jammers, John Fogerty did just that. He wowed Jammers with a combination of his CCR tunes and solo hits that kept them dancing and clapping for the entire show.
"I can't think of any bands that weren't fun to deal with."
- Mark Kirchhoff
"It's just a matter of fun, music and getting away a few days."
- Paul Gebeke
"It's a better atmosphere than WE Fest."
- Karen Johnson
Fab 14 will be remembered for so many reasons it is impossible to pick out a single highlight. Every day temperatures soared & allowed Jammers hang out all day and party all night. Jammers who drove in on Wednesday won't forget the endless line of traffic trying to make it in before .38 Special and Skynyrd unleashed their tight Southern Rock assault on the largest Wednesday night crowd in Jam history. 2005 had something for everyone. Eighties rockers Tesla, Cinderella and Whitesnake wowed Jammers with their heavy rock and 80's ballads. REO and Journey brought down the house with their arena rock anthems, while Cheap Trick, Grand Funk and Blackfoot kept the 70's classic rock nostalgia.
Saturday's crowd got an emotional Tribute to Our Troops as 13 year-old Kristy Peterson sang "God Bless America" and a song she wrote with her father called "Solider Come Home" with the American Legion Post 134 Honor Guard presenting the colors. Afterward, a surprise flyover by a Blackhawk helicopter added the final touch to an emotional moment.
Fab 14 literally wore out everyone from Jammers to promoters, but in the end it improved, once again, on the positive tradition of Moondance Jam: Music, Good Times, Friendship & Celebration.
" Classic Rock Revisited highly recommends this event to all of our readers around the world... Moondance Jam is the premier classic rock festival in the United States."
- Jeb Wright
Classic Rock Revisited
"...the bands, parties, games, security & other staff, amenities, concert area & saloon stage and, of course, the people are second to none."
- Scotty Mac
"Well, after this Moondance will definitely be a yearly ritual with me... by far the best outdoor festival i've ever been to, in terms of organization and general atmosphere, as well as lineup--and i go to at least forty shows a year"
Grand Forks, ND
"This was even better than last year though I never thought it could be."
Dream 15 continued the tradition of the Jam: great rock music, thousands of festive fans, and a friendly campin' & jammin' atmosphere. Record crowds and record temperatures slowed jammers down a little during the early and mid afternoon hours, but as the bands hit the stage the fairgrounds were the place to be.
Even though all of the bands were solid, Poison's show was the highlight for many Jammers. They had been requested for many years and did not dissapoint. Their sound and energy had the entire crowd singing, dancing and jammin throughout the show.
One of the coolest spectacles of the weekend was the storm that formed when Ted Nugent hit the stage. It was as if nature knew The Nuge was taking the mic. A wall of clouds soaked in the fireball sunset moved in on the over heated crowd. As it darkened, the storm moved closer and the rain started coming down rejuvenating Jammers as Ted's energy on stage escalated. The entire show took a life of its own as lightening shot across the sky in the distance and Ted wailed on his guitar to a sea of glistening arms raised toward the sky in celebration of the surreal show of music and nature.
The Saloon Stage's regional bands rocked all four days and was highlighted by tribute bands Hairball, Zed Leppelin and the hard rockin' ladies of ThundHerStruck who wowed the late night jammers with their AC/DC covers. The Camping Contest brought out the creative side of many Jammers and the addition of the Mardi Gras Stage brought a new element of fun and more stage entertainment.
"Moondance can actually sell you a ticket that will transport your mind and soul back 25 years for four days each July. The Jam is unique in that memories of youth come flooding back at the same time new memories are being made."
Classic Rock Revisited
"WOW!! As first timers, we were in total awe the entire 4 days... It was so very impressive to see the lengths your staff went to, but also how organized the daily maintenance staff is."
- Lynn, Duluth, MN
"What makes this whole thing work is that we're continuing to have fun."
- Mark Kirchhoff
"Thanks for rockin' out with us! Moondance Jam kicks *ss!!! - Stephanie from ThundHerStruck, CA
"I went to Moondance on a scouting mission on behalf of our rock fest party group. My report back to them will be that we MUST get vacation days, tickets and camping lined up for Moondance 16. Not only great bands and music, but the whole event and availability of services was well coordinated and organized."
- Lucy Lounge, Fargo & Minot, ND
"What a party! The Jam totally rocked in each and every way possible!! We had 'nothin but a good time!' From the moment we arrived on Tue. night the fellow Jammers were awesome. All of our neighbor Jammers were great." - Tinman, Jammer
by Jeb Wright of Classic Rock Revisited
I believe in what I call Moondance Magic. The Jam is a place where you can be the real you and not the person the world has forced you to become. Remember the movie Field of Dreams? Moondance Magic works along the same lines. There is a scene in Field of Dreams where Shoeless Joe Jackson looks around at the baseball field built in the middle of acornfield and then up to the starlit sky and asks Kevin Costner, "Is this heaven?" To which Costner smiles and replies, "No, this is Iowa." While Shoeless Joe may have been in Iowa, I knew that I was not in Walker, Minnesota. That may be the name of the town on the highway sign but I knew where I was during those magical four days in July. I was in heaven. [full article]
by Marty Moffatt
We’ve been to many festivals over the years, including the first 9 Donnington Monsters of Rock Festivals in the UK in the 1980’s, but I have to say that Moondance Jam was far and away the best organised and most enjoyable festival we’ve ever attended. [full article]
"We've been to many festivals over the years, including the first 9 Donnington Monsters of Rock Festivals in the UK in the 1980's, but I have to say that Moondance Jam was far and away the best organised and most enjoyable festival we've ever attended."
- Marty Moffatt, Swindon, England
"Thanks for the great time we had a blast once again cant wait till next year!!!"
"Faster than a Speeding Bullet, more Powerful than a Locomotive.... it's the Moondance Experience that rocks us year after year! Thank You Bill & Kathy and all the Staff for for bringing us the Best Rockin' & Rollin' get together in the USA! See Ya Next Year!"
"This is our second home. All the people you work with, year-in and year-out; it's family now. It's enjoyable."
by Chris Murphy for Classic Rock Revisited
For the fourth year in a row, my wife and I made the 9 ½ hour trek north to Moondance Jam in Walker, MN. What started in 1992 featuring regional bands over two nights has blossomed into the premier classic rock festival in the US that takes place during four nights in July every year. While other festivals have come and gone and still others have changed their format to draw in younger fans, Moondance Jam has stuck to its guns and has continued to bring the best classic rock to northern Minnesota... As soon as you enter the jam site, you can tell your experience will be different than just a rock concert. The staff is extremely friendly and it is easy to tell they enjoy their job... The next thing to notice is row after row of campers all enjoying themselves, some sitting around talking while others are playing games... The camping area now has over 300 electrical campsites and over 1800 primitive campsites. The one thing everyone has in common is a smile on their face... [full article]
by Marty Moffatt
We left Moondance Jam at the end of the night confident that this wouldn't be our last Jam. We'll almost certainly be back next year, and the year after…. I've attended many, many festivals (albeit all in the UK) but I can honestly say Moondance Jam is the friendliest and best organised festival of them all. [full article] [Slidshow: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4]
"This year was another great year. We had a lot of good compliments again. I can't stress enough that it's because of our staff that has been with us so long that this place does run the way it does."
- Kathy Bieloh
"I've attended many, many festivals (albeit all in the UK) but I can honestly say Moondance Jam is the friendliest and best organised festival of them all."
- Marty Moffatt
"...the festival felt extremely accessible and left one feeling like they were a part of a larger family."
Reader Weekly & Fountainheads.com
by Dan Wall and Jeb Wright, photos by Brad "Phil Collins" Neville of Classic Rock Revisited
Stepping onto the grass at the Moondance Jam is like stepping onto hollowed ground. This truly is where the magic happens. I looked around knowing that for the next three nights I would be interviewing bands, watching them perform and hanging out with people just like me. Who would have thought that four hours from Minneapolis, in the middle of nowhere, a rock n’ roll heaven could exist? The odds are staggering that this thing should never have happened; yet here we are getting ready to celebrate the Jam’s eighteenth birthday. Long live rock n’ roll. [full article]
by Matthew Becker of Melodic Rock Concerts now Live Rock Journal
Moondance has done it again. The Minnesota rock festival is a long-running summer escape that aims to please its attendees by providing a fun and safe atmosphere to experience live performances by some of the best bands in the world.
by Andrew Olson of Reader Weekly & Fountainheads.com
With bands ranging from Spin Doctors and Sheryl Crow to Whitesnake, Judas Priest, Journey, a dead on Page and Plant tribute band Zed Leppelin, or screaming AC/DC women in Thunderstruck, there was something for everyone. You get a lot of festival bang for your buck as well with cheap food and beer sold on location. The best aspect though is the intimate feel that Moondance has. It is comfortable and extremely entertaining. It also isn't that far away. [full article]
by Andy Nathan of Get Ready to Rock
...this was a thoroughly enjoyable festival with a relaxed friendly atmosphere, well organised, and with some memorable performances including bands who rarely if ever play the UK. [full article]
"Had the greatest time!!! Exceded expectations 1,000,000 times. Looking forward to my second jam next year. But you just might see more Canadians next time because I'm tellin' everyone!!!"
"This is the highlight of our summer every year. The shows were great and your helpful staff as always made it a fun time for all of us. "
Norm & Peggy B.
"This was our first year at Moondance and it was a blast. The grounds are so well kept, the staff are very friendly and the bathrooms were always clean."
-Mary Jo A.
by Dan Wall and Jeb Wright, photos by Brad Neville and Alan Morrow of Classic Rock Revisited
It is difficult, year after year, to describe the power of the Moondance Jam. I don’t want to repeat myself and I certainly don’t want to become cliché. The truth is, however, that the Moondance Jam simply contains a magical element that makes it the most beloved festival in the United States. People who come to Moondance once, come back time and time again. In fact, during Day II, I spoke with a couple that said it was their first Jam. They both smiled and said in unison, “We’re addicted.” I smiled and gave them a look back as if to say, “I, too, am under the Moondance spell.” One wonders if scientists took soil samples at Moondance what they would find. The place is like a homing device for true music fans. The Moondance Jam calls people to it. Once your MD virginity is gone you don’t simply attend Moondance, you are called back to it, day after day, year after year. You dream about Moondance and you obsessively wait for the website to announce the bands for the next year. This is no ordinary concert. [full article]
by Andy Nathan of Get Ready to Rock
With a choice of standing in a sandpit at the front, going for a VIP section or sitting in a lawn chair on a hill, generous set times of an hour and ten minutes minimum for each of the five daily bands, and two covered bars with local bands playing in between sets, not to mention the best of American customer service, the Moondance concert experience is a very agreeable one. [full article]
"Not only are we excited that our festival will be shown on DIRECTV, but it will be produced by a company that shares our philosophy that it is about the fans. Kathy and I started Moondance Jam in 1992 as party for friends and family and now it has grown into Minnesota's largest rock festival bringing in over 50,000 friends and family through the gates over three days. Over the years we have always done everything we could to keep Moondance Jam a fan friendly rock festival. We still maintain open festival seating for general admission ticket holders so they can get up close to the stage. We also added a restaurant and bar that overlooks the backstage area a few years ago that is open to all fans. Our fans need to have that full concert experience for the amazing artists that put on such great shows every year. So to have Blaze TV come in and recreate that experience for fans that have never been to Moondance is a dream come true for us."
"Camping is just as much a part of the Jam as the music... It's all fun. It's all about the people and the music."
- Tim Bakken
by Dan Wall and photos by Alan Morrow of Classic Rock Revisited
With the biggest crowd in festival history gathering on Friday to see KISS and record crowds all weekend, it appears the rock version of this show (there's a country show as well) will be green-lit for 2012. [full article]
By Dean Morrill The Pilot-Independent
Moondance Jam 20 rocked!
That's the easiest way to describe the music, party atmosphere and spectacle at the two-decade anniversary event with a lineup that included KISS, 38 Special, Stone Temple Pilots, 3 Doors Downs, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Paul Rodgers. [full article]
by Andy Nathan of Get Ready to Rock
Small enough to have an intimate family atmosphere, but large enough to support good facilities that attract high calibre bands, Moondance once again felt like the party that never ends. And the great news is that they have since confirmed that there will be a Moondance 21. Once you go there, you too may find you are hooked for life. [full article]
"Have been to Moondance for 7 years now. It is more than just an event, it is part of my life. It is only during this time of the year that I meet up with very special friends from around the country. We all feel the same: that it IS our summer. The atmosphere and well run events are greatly appreciated.
"I have been at the Moondance jam for many of years, and MDJ 20 was the very best!!!! This is the first year I went VIP, I'll tell I'm going VIP ever year after. The staff in VIP was AWESOME. The whole staff were great, but up in the VIP tent I felt like a king GREAT JOB!!!"
"Thank You to all that are involved with moondance. This event changed my life. I have met so many wonderful people over the course of 2 years. I want to be a lifer when it comes to moondance... Thank you Bieloh Family and all staff involved for making Moondance the greatest place on earth. Hands down it beats disney world!"
By Dean Morril The Pilot-Independent
The first two nights of Moondance Jam turned out to be record nights, thanks to Kid Rock and great weather, and it just kept on getting better...
Back Stage Production Director Mark Kirchhoff also thought this year's Jam was the biggest and best one ever. He gave each day a special emphasis. Wednesday was amazing, Thursday fantastic, Friday incredible and Saturday was stupendous. [full article]
by Mitchell Walters and photos by Nancy Ann Peterson of DoubleRock Press
Kid Rock was the Thursday night Headliner that broke all record attendance for Moondance Jam. Campers and fans began moving into the outdoor venue on Wednesday and were treated to pre-concert high energy performances. Thursday was the beginning of the main acts that went through Saturday night with top notch performers as John Fogerty, Heart, Motley Inc., Grand Funk Railroad and more.
Hot weather and only a threat of rain one evening gave way to a near picture perfect weekend. This was the 21st year of the festival that keeps growing each year and has the reputation of running a top quality concert venue. [full article]
"Thank you for a great experience. This was our first time back after 12 years of not jamming. Great fun. Fielder was good and Fogerty was AMAZING! Nice to have the variety as well...Kid Rock was a lot of fun."
"Thank you so much for another great Moondance experience! There is no doubt that (in my opinion) this was the best lineup in our 13 years of going to Moondance. It was a great combination of classic and newer bands, and from the size of the crowds each night a lot of people must agree."
"From the bottom of my Camp Howler heart to the top of the Moondance stage I cannot thank you enough for the Best Jam Ever!! Truly truly tryly had the time of my life!! The real world since has been often icky but I'll forever have the memories made at Jam 21 in my mind and in my heart..."
By Dean Morril The Pilot-Independent
The fairgrounds, which can hold more than 20,000 people, were almost full for Thursday night. Most came to see Motley Crue, who put on a performance that won't be forgotten. Known as the world's most notorious band, the Crue rocked the stage. Also performing were Cheap Trick, Buckcherry, Shooting Star and Cain.
The next two nights also saw huge crowds come out to see Slash, featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Bachman and Turner, Blue Oyster Cult, The Offspring, Theory of a Deadman and Halestorm, whose performance Saturday was before a record crowd for a 7 p.m. show. [full article]
The festival created to please fans continues to do so in even bigger ways, boasting a cross-generational lineup and a friendly atmosphere that feels a lot more like family.
In the process of bringing legendary rock bands to northern Minnesota each year, Moondance Jam has been become a legend in itself, and a testament to the power of love and commitment to an idea. [full article]
by Jeb Wright and Dan Wall of Classic Rock Revisited
The 22nd Moondance Jam has finished, and The Offspring’s set is still ringing in my ears. That’s okay, because if it’s too loud, you’re too old, and you shouldn’t come anywhere near this great rock festival. [full article]
"This is just a great atmosphere. It's fun to see everyone enjoying themselves. That was always Bill's dream. It's great when everyone can work together and make that happen."
- Kathy Bieloh
"We were first timers at Moondance this year and had VIP tickets. Best time ever! Special thanks to Scott and the crew in VIP for making it an unforgettable weekend. Everyone was so nice and helpful! Motley Crue was the BEST! Already looking forward to next year! VIP all the way!! Thanks!!"
"Another amazing year at Moondance Jam!! Every band was amazing, with my personal favorites being Slash, The Offspring and Halestorm! I'm stoked that REO Speedwagon is already signed on for 2014, can't wait to do it all over again!!!"