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Moondance Jam
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Moondance Jam Sizzlin’ 17
July 9-12, 2008 in Walker, MN

By Chris Murphy

Review originally posted at
August 2008

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. While the first jam had around 500 area music fans and friends of owners Bill & Kathy Bieloh, the jam today has close to 20,000 people per day from all over the country and even a few from England. Back in 1992, the jam had two nights of regional bands such as The Classics and The Blenders. Today it features four nights of nationally touring acts such as Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Now known as “The Campin’ and Jammin’ Event of the Summer,” the site also features over 300 acres of camping surrounding the site with many campers arriving the night before the music starts to reunite with friends they have now camped and partied with for years.

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 fact that I have seen many of the same workers at the jam each of the last four years is a tribute to what great people the Bieloh’s are. The next thing to notice is row after row of campers all enjoying themselves, some sitting around talking while others are playing games. Many even have bar-themed campsites and invite others to come and join in their festivities. Several of these campsites participate in the traditional camping contest that is hosted and judged by the Bieloh’s. According to Bill Bieloh, judging the camping contest is one of his favorite parts of the jam. 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. While I don’t camp, I have found that the campgrounds are a huge part of the jam and a daily stroll through camping is a must. The only problem is you might end up having so much fun you miss some of the music.

Not a camper? No problem. There are many hotels and resorts in the area, some even providing transportation to the jam. It is wise to book early though as many people stay at the same place year after year. While there is pay parking on-site, a better option is the free park-and-ride offered by the jam from nearby Northern Lights Casino. For those with a VIP ticket, parking beside the concert venue is provided.

Inside the venue there are three areas for music, the Lazy Moon Stage, the Saloon Stage, and the Main Stage. The Lazy Moon Stage features mostly acoustic singers and is located inside The Lazy Moon Backstage Bar and Grill. The bar, added last year, provides patrons with a true backstage view of the bands as they prepare to take the main stage. The Saloon Stage features mostly regional bands and starts at 2pm every day and continues late into the night after the last Main Stage performance. The Main Stage begins each day at 3pm usually with a regional band followed by four national touring acts that go two hours apart starting at 5pm. With the coordination between the saloon and the main stage, there is rarely a minute that passes without hearing classic rock music.

For food and beverage, there are many options besides eating and drinking in the campgrounds. The Lazy Moon Backstage Bar & Grill features a full menu throughout the day, starting in the morning with a breakfast buffet and bloody Mary bar. Throughout the concert venue are a variety of food stands offering everything from tacos to onion blossoms to pork chops on a stick. What I have found to be the best option is the VIP area which offers free drinks all day starting at 2pm, appetizers and salads from 3:30pm to 11pm, and a full meal every evening. The VIP is run by an excellent staff who work tirelessly to truly make you feel like you are a VIP.

Something about Moondance Jam always brings out the best from the bands as well. Perhaps the best feature for the bands performing on the main stage is the fact that anyone can make their way to the front of the stage. While other festivals reserve their seats in front to those in VIP, Moondance Jam has a sand pit that stretches the entire length of the new, multi-million dollar stage that is open to anyone. This allows the most die-hard fans to get as close as they want to their favorite artist and provides a great deal of energy to the performer on stage. Those in VIP are still treated to a great covered seating area beside the stage and even have the opportunity to watch a portion (usually four songs) of each band’s set from a raised stage box on the side of the stage. Yes, that is right, you basically get to watch from on the stage in what is one of the most incredible views I have ever seen at a concert.

The Music – Day 1

The first day of music featured a mix of bands that had never been seen together on the same stage. The first national band to take the stage was Otis Day & the Knights from Animal House fame. Front man DeWayne “Otis my man!” Jesse reprises his legendary role from the movie with a great backing band that can play a wide variety of genres of music. Today the band played perfectly to its audience by featuring a wide range of classic tunes. Early in the set the band played The Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin,” The Rolling Stone’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Satisfaction,” Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want),” and The Beatle’s “Come Together,”all of which had the crowd singing and dancing. After finally playing a song from Animal House, “Shama Lama Ding Dong,” the band performed their best song of the night, BTO’s “Takin’ Care of Business,” which featured an extended jam. While Jesse’s voice is not what it was from the movie, his backing band is very talented and his female backup singer had a great voice and was easy on the eyes. After leaving the stage to cheers for an encore, the band obliged and returned to play “Shout,” the song that has allowed Jesse the opportunity to still tour 30 years after the debut of Animal House. Scattered throughout the audience were many fans wearing togas in honor of the movie. I was surprised by the band’s performance and it was a great way to get Sizzlin’ 17 started.

Next up was Led Zepagain, a tribute to Led Zeppelin that is actually endorsed by Jimmy Page. While Wednesday was originally planned to be an entire night of tribute acts, a change in plans resulted in Led Zepagain to be the only true tribute band of the night. While it is unlikely we will ever see a reunion tour of Led Zeppelin, Led Zepagain is an excellent recreation of the music of the legendary band, complete with outfits from the era and guitarist Steve Zukowsky playing guitar with a violin bow. The band opened with “Rock ‘n Roll” and “Good Times, Bad Times” before playing my favorite Zeppelin song, “Ramble On.” While the band didn’t play it as well as Page and Plant did when I heard them back in 1996 (who could?), I still enjoyed the song and felt lucky to hear it on the Moondance stage. The band stuck to the Zeppelin songs that everyone wanted to hear as they continued through stellar versions of “Black Dog,” “Kashmir,” and “Communication Breakdown” before playing their best song of the night “Dazed and Confused.” Next was the classic “Stairway to Heaven,” complete with line “Does anyone remember laughter?” from the movie The Song Remains the Same. Closing the set was “Whole Lotta Love,” which proved vocalist Swan Montgomery has the chops to give justice to Robert Plant. After seeing the band and the great reception the audience gave them, I began to wonder if an opening night of tribute bands may have been a great way to start the jam.

The final two bands of the night were bands both without the singers that made them famous, Big Brother & the Holding Company and Creedence Clearwater Revisited. While Big Brother is missing the late Janis Joplin, the band still features three original members, bassist Peter Albin, guitarist Sam Andrew, and drummer Dave Getz. The band has toured the last few years with several singers playing the role of Joplin and released a live album in 2007 titled “Hold Me” with Sophia Ramos on vocals. While I had hoped to hear Ramos as she has an amazing voice on the album, tonight’s vocals were handled very well by Marie Bridget Davies. The band performed excellent versions of their classics “Down on Me,” “Combination of the Two,” and “Women is Losers.” However, it was their new song “Hold Me” that was the highlight of their show for me. It is unfortunate with the way radio is today that it is unlikely you will hear this song as I feel it could be a hit today just as it could have been 40 years ago when the band first got its start. The band also played their best known hit with Joplin, “Piece of My Heart,” and finished with a strange selection, Joplin’s solo hit “Me and Bobby McGee.” The talk after the concert was the excellent voice of Davies and how surprised people were that they enjoyed the performance.

Creedence Clearwater Revisited finished the night off in style by playing excellent renditions of most of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hits. Revisited is led by the original rhythm section of CCR with Doug “Cosmo” Clifford on drums and Stu Cook on bass. Playing the part of John Fogerty is John Tristao, who has been with Revisited since their inception. While no one would confuse the bald and stocky Tristao with Fogerty by looking at him, close your eyes and listen and they are hard to tell apart. While many CCR fans refuse to accept this version of the band, I thought they did an excellent job finishing the first day of the jam and had the crowd singing late into the night. I applaud the fact that Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s Clifford and Cook continue to tour and present these classic songs to the fans. Highlights for me included “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Fortunate Son,” and my favorite CCR song “Long as I Can See the Light.”

On paper, the lineup for this first day seemed very strange. But in the end, it worked as a much larger crowd than I expected came to support the fact that great music was on the stage and there is no better place to hear great music than at Moondance Jam.

Day 2

The second day started early for me as the much-anticipated area 80’s tribute band Hairball took the main stage at 3pm. While I had seen them in the saloon a few years ago at Moondance and was not overly impressed, I decided to give them another try and I am glad I did. Hairball stormed the stage with a singer dressed as Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, playing both “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” As the chord to the latter song was finishing, a new singer came out in full makeup as Paul Stanley from Kiss and the band lit into “Detroit Rock City,” followed by “Strutter.” Next up, the first singer returned as Joe Elliott from Def Leppard and the band played “Rock of Ages” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” The band finished their set with their second singer performing AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells,” “Back in Black,” and “You Shook Me All Night Long.” The crowd loved it and packed the saloon for their sets later as well. I caught a little of their first set in the jam-packed saloon and heard them perform excellent versions of songs from Loverboy, Bon Jovi, and Whitesnake.

Next up was one of my favorite bands of all time, The Guess Who. While only two original members remain in the group, the band was one of the highlights from Moondance Jam 15 and a big crowd came out to hear Canada’s legendary rockers. Once again, the band didn’t disappoint and put on one of my favorite shows of the entire jam. They also played one of the longest sets, not only playing their hits but delving deeper into their catalogue with songs like openers “Bus Rider” and “Star Baby” and one of my favorites “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon.” The highlight of their set was when they played the hits “Laughing,” “Undun,” and “No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” together mid-set. The band’s appearance had been in doubt after lead singer Carl Dixon was in a near fatal car accident in April but the band brought Derek Sharp aboard to fill in and Sharp ended up being one of the highlights of the jam, especially for the ladies. While only drummer Garry Peterson and bassist Jim Kale are left from the original lineup, Laurie MacKenzie was excellent on guitar and Leonard Shaw does a great job playing the keyboard and flute and even the voice of Wolfman Jack on “Clap for the Wolfman.” The Guess Who is underrated in the US, perhaps because of their Canadian roots and revolving lineup. However, the Moondance Jam crowd has embraced the band two of the last three years and I hope more of the US soon follows suit.

Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas were next up in one of the most anticipated shows of the jam. Even though he technically was not the headliner for the night and played an early 7pm slot, he easily brought in the biggest crowd of the day and put on the best show I have ever seen at Moondance. As the giant red curtain with Hagar’s image was dropped, the band tore into “I Can’t Drive 55,” followed by two more solo Sammy cuts, “There’s Only One Way to Rock,” and “I’ll Fall in Love Again.” The band played the best set list I have yet to see Sammy play. Included were four Van Halen songs, “Top of the World,” “Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Dreams,” and the encore “Finish What Ya Started.” Unfortunately “Dreams” was played entirely acoustic as I think an electric guitar ending to that song would be amazing. No one played the crowd better than Sammy either. At one point he announced he had talked with owner Bill Bieloh and next year he would be returning to Moondance Jam and he would play for free and sponsor the jam with his Cabo Wabo Tequila. The crowd went crazy. Sammy even threw in a Montrose song, the well-received “Rock Candy,” although I would have rather heard “Bad Motor Scooter.” He followed this song by discussing his current weekend gigs with Kenny Chesney. Chesney told him he was happy to have him on tour because he would be able to hear “Eagles Fly” every night. When Hagar told him he no longer played that song, Chesney basically told him he had to play it to get the gig. He then played the song, which was his best performance of the night. About the only weak song in his set was “Serious Juju,” which I think should be replaced by the rarely played “Give to Live.” The stage setup was also very elaborate, with a light show that unfortunately couldn’t be seen in the daylight and his patented risers for fans to rock on stage with the band during their show. It is hard to believe that Sammy is celebrating turning 60 as he was the most energetic of any performer during the jam. As a performer, I would have hated to follow Sammy’s show.

That task was left to Boz Scaggs, the Grammy nominated blues singer/guitarist, who is most remembered for his 1976 album Silk Degrees, which was backed by Toto. A great thing about Moondance is fans can come and go as they please back to their campsite for a drink or into the saloon or Lazy Moon for more music. Many fans chose to do this after Sammy’s show and didn’t make it back for Scaggs’ performance. Those who did return were treated to a solid, but not spectacular, set of Boz’s music. Highlights of the set were “JoJo” and the crowd sing-along “Lido Shuffle.” His backing band and two female backup sings are a solid unit that you can tell has been together for a long time and Scaggs’ voice has changed very little over the last 30 years. Personally, I would have liked to hear the more upbeat “Breakdown Dead Ahead” instead of the extended “Hercules,” which I believe would be fine at a Scaggs’ solo show, but not at a festival with casual fans who largely want to hear songs they know.

Finishing the night were Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s Crosby, Stills, and Nash, who Bieloh was most pleased to be able to have onstage this year. Making their first appearance at Moondance Jam, the band did a great job of hitting the majority of their hits from their huge catalogue of songs. It was evident on the opener, Stephen Stills’ solo hit “Love the One You’re With,” that Stills’ voice is nowhere near what it once was, but his guitar playing is still top-notch. His guitar solos were some of the best heard during the jam. Highlights of the show were excellent versions of “Southern Cross,” “Marrakesh Express,” and the Crosby-penned “Almost Cut My Hair.” It is worth noting that he has yet to cut his hair. The band also performed the classic “For What It’s Worth,” from Stills’ days with Buffalo Springfield. Unfortunately, the signature beginning portion of the song was almost unrecognizable, but the band did pull it together about half way through the song. The band also stuck to its political roots with a solid rendition of Nash’s “Military Madness.” Crosby got a nice cheer during the encore by announcing teachers should get paid ten times what they do before performing “Teach Your Children.” Overall the performance was okay but in no way measured up to the bar set by Sammy earlier in the evening.

Day 3

After regional band Mountain Ash finished their 3pm set on the main stage, Mother Nature decided to take over the jam for awhile. As storms headed toward the site, staff and security did a great job of going through campsites and the concert area alerting everyone to take cover until the storm passed. Fortunately, besides some wind and rain, severe weather never materialized and the music was allowed to continue, albeit over an hour late. Unfortunately, this led to shorter sets by the bands so headliners Poison could still go on close to 11pm.

Great White finally took the stage after the rain to an extended opening of “Call It Rock and Roll” before lead singer Jack Russell took the stage to cheers and started singing. The band, now touring with almost the entire lineup that made them famous over 20 years ago, played an entertaining set of bluesy rock. Russell looks like he has conquered some of the demons he has dealt with in recent years and his voice still sounds great. The song that made them famous, “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” actually was their weakest song of the day. The band is at its best on slow, building rockers like “Rock Me” and “House of Broken Love,” which was their best song of the day. Unfortunately the band did not cover their usual Led Zeppelin song, perhaps because of time constraints. Their live acoustic cover of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” is one of the best covers of Led Zeppelin I have ever heard. While their future was in serious doubt after the 2003 Rhode Island tragedy, the band seems to have a renewed energy and got the day started very well.

Sebastian Bach, original lead singer of Skid Row, was next to take the stage and played the loudest show I have ever heard at Moondance Jam. His first song was a cover of Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle,” from his latest album Angel Down. The album sounds a lot like Skid Row’s Slave to the Grind and Bach even got Axl Rose to sing on several songs for the album. The intro to his new song “Stuck Inside” even had a short snippet of him singing “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” While I thoroughly enjoyed Bach’s set, it was little heavier than most are used to at the jam. He swings his microphone over his head with such force I was afraid it might detach and injure someone. He did scream a little much, especially on the new song “American Metalhead,” but his versions of his Skid Row era songs were great. He also committed the crime no lead singer wants to do about half way through his set when he yelled “We love you Wisconsin!” and heard nearly complete silence from the Minnesota crowd. They forgave him in no time though. Bach has an excellent voice and his strength is actually in slower songs like “18 & Life” and his new song “By Your Side,” which, unfortunately, he cut off after a few chords because his time ran short. Luckily he didn’t have an attitude about having to leave the stage and instead went right into a great version of the Skid Row hit “I Remember You.” His last tune was the Skid Row anthem “Youth Gone Wild,” which had the entire sand pit chanting throughout the chorus.

Next up were 70’s rockers Sweet, who have just reunited behind original bass player Steve Priest and are touring the US for the first time in years. While Priest is the only original member in this version of Sweet (the only other living original member Andy Scott has a version in the UK as well), the band did not sound like they had only six shows under their belt together. They performed a nice set of Sweet tunes to near perfection and had the crowd surprised at how many songs they knew by the band. Because of the lack of touring, the band has become somewhat forgotten in the US and it is easy to forget they had string of six top 20 hits in the 70’s with songs like “Little Willy,” “Ballroom Blitz,” and “Fox on the Run” that still get regular radio airplay today. The band was even bigger in the UK with 15 top 40 hits in the 70’s. The band took to the stage with their hit “Action” and ran through nearly their entire catalogue of hits before the night was through. Lead singer Joe Retta did a great job of singing the songs like the fans remember them, even though he had obviously had to change the band member names spoken on the intro to “Ballroom Blitz.” Lead guitarist Stuart Smith also did a nice job in place of Scott. Their strongest songs of the night were “The 6-teens” and their last hit, 1978’s “Love is Like Oxygen.” About the only song that didn’t work was the new song “Sweet Dream,” from Priest’s latest solo album which few in the crowd were familiar with. The crowd had the most fun during perhaps their best know song, the sing-along “Fox on the Run.”

After Sweet’s set I headed over to the saloon stage to check out the Heart tribute band Bad Animals. The band played one of my favorite saloon stage sets last year and this year were promoted to closer in the saloon. Not only does the band do excellent renditions of all the Heart classics, but they also look the part too with a blonde guitarist and brunette singer who look and sound great. The band played a short set because of the rain delay but did stellar versions of “Who Will You Run To” and “Magic Man,” among others. The band hails from the Minneapolis area and will be playing all over Minnesota this summer. They are definitely worth checking out.

Finishing the night was one of the features of this year’s jam, Poison. While Poison played the jam two years ago as a last minute replacement for The New Cars, this year they were the band pictured on all the billboards and advertisements and expectations were high. The band did not disappoint in front of probably the biggest crowd of the jam. Poison opened with “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” the title track from their debut album, and continued running through the hits and even a few rare songs. “Cry Tough” is being played regularly on this tour for the first time in 20 year according to lead singer Bret Michaels. Thankfully, the band was also able to bring their full pyrotechnic stage show to the jam stage as well, something missing from two years ago. Besides their own hits, the band also played a couple songs off last year’s cover album Poison’d, “What I Like About You” from the Romantics and Loggins and Messina’s “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” which they actually released in 1989 and is a tour regular. I would much rather have the often-played latter song replaced by another cut from Poison’d like The Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See.” I am not a big fan of too many solos during a show but both guitarist CC Deville and drummer Rikki Rockett played solos that fit into the show well and were not drawn out or boring. The only real misstep of the night came when Michaels’ took too much time thanking the crowd for making his show on VH-1 the #1 show on the network. We all know about the show and I don’t think he needs to focus on it during a Poison concert. The female fans loved the ballads “Something to Believe In” and the band’s only #1 hit “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” but I thought they were best on faster songs like “Ride the Wind” and “Fallen Angel.” The band finished the night with their two biggest party songs “Talk Dirty to Me” and “Nothin’ But a Good Time” and kept the fans in the venue until the very end.

Day 4

The final day came much too quickly with jam veterans and all-female AC/DC cover band Thundherstruck taking the main stage at 3pm. After stealing the show last year with a surprise 5pm main stage performance after The Family Stone cancelled, the girls came back and rocked the jam again. Hailing from California, Thundherstruck has been adopted by Moondance Jam as their very own. The band tore through several AC/DC hits, including “Back in Black” and “Thunderstruck,” complete with guitar solos and bassist Andrea Zermeno chugging an entire beer with her left hand while strumming with her right in about 15 seconds. Lead singer Dyna Shirasaki commands the stage, and guitarist Tina “Angus” Wood can shred the guitar and even performs the Angus Young dance across the stage during solos. Their set got started a little late and was unfortunately short, but the band was able to play much longer later in the day when they closed the saloon. As usual, the saloon was standing room only during their performances.

Next up were Minnesota’s own The Gear Daddies, who gained fame in 1990 with the song “I Wanna Drive the Zamboni.” The tongue-in-cheek tune about wanting to drive the machine that smoothes out ice skating rinks was featured in the movies Mighty Ducks 2 and 3 and Mystery, Alaska. The band eventually played Late Night with David Letterman but broke up in 1992. Over the last couple years, the band has reunited to play several shows. Many in the crowd knew their tunes and sang along the entire set to songs like “Color of Her Eyes” and “Heavy Metal Boys.” Unfortunately the band did not play what I think is their best song “Strength,” but their set was a nice change of pace and pleased many who remember seeing them in their heyday. I think they would be a great band to see in a bar where they can take their time and play as many songs as they like.

Another jam veteran, Kenny Wayne Shepherd was next to take the stage. Shepherd, easily the best guitarist of the jam, opened with the crowd pleasing three-song combo of “Somehow, Somewhere, Someway,” “King’s Highway” and “True Lies.” Other strong songs in the set were “Leaving You (Commit a Crime),” “Shame, Shame, Shame,” and his biggest hit “Blue on Black.” While “Blue on Black” is the song everyone knows, the band is so much more than just one hit song. The band excels because lead singer Noah Hunt’s bluesy voice is a perfect complement to Shepherd amazing licks. Shepherd fits a guitar solo into every song and somehow makes every solo sound unique. About the only song that didn’t work for me was “Let the Good Times Roll,” which I would like to have seen replaced by my favorite Shepherd song “Déjà Voodoo.” Their best song of the night was their usual closer, a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile.” The song was my favorite single performance of the entire jam. As soon as the vocal part was over, Hunt waved to the crowd and let Shepherd take over. What followed was an amazing display of guitar genius that lasted over 6 minutes that I didn’t want to end.

After Shepherd’s performance, I headed back to the saloon to check out The Minnesota Whiskey Pigzz, whose lead singer Razz is Moondance through and through. He has played eight of the last nine Moondance Jams and has even written a song titled “Moondancing.” The band played an entertaining set of original songs and cover tunes to a huge crowd of The G-Fam, a Moondance Jam message group he is part of who keep the spirit of Moondance alive with get-togethers throughout the year.

Styx, now led by Tommy Shaw and James Young, next graced the stage for their first Moondance appearance since 2002. Shaw has assumed the lead of front man since Dennis DeYoung is no longer with the band, but Young and keyboardist/vocalist Lawrence Gowan both had their moments to shine. Styx took the stage promptly at 9pm just as the sun was setting with “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” with Shaw on lead vocals. You could immediately tell the performance was going to be one with very high energy. Shaw, Young, and bassist Ricky Phillips were all over the stage yet still sounded great. Without DeYoung, some would assume the band would shy away from his hits, but that theory was discarded when the band launched into “The Grand Illusion” with DeYoung’s replacement Gowan performing DeYoung’s parts to near perfection. Gowan also is a huge presence onstage, rarely sitting down with his unique rotating keyboard. He sometimes even stands on his keyboard. Gowan also has the voice to tackle any DeYoung song. Gowan followed this up with Styx’s first big hit, the DeYoung-penned “Lady.” Shaw took back over for “Lorelei” and “Too Much Time on My Hands” before the band covered The Beatles’ “I am the Walrus” from their cover album Big Bang Theory. While I am not a huge fan of cover albums, the band adds their own twist to the song and it worked this evening. Shaw and Gowan continued trading off lead singing duties until Young took over late in the set on “Miss America.” Young was very animated all night, performing several short guitar solos and playing to the crowd. It would have been great to hear him sing lead on another song such as “Snowblind.” After finishing up their main set with “Come Sail Away,” which Gowan started a capella with a short crowd sing-along, the band left the stage to loud cheers in hopes of more. Styx obliged by returning to play a 10-minute version of the hit “Renegade.” The band extended the song with band introductions and solos and Gowan ran around the stage snapping Polaroids and throwing them to the crowd. The band did an excellent job performing the hits everyone knows and put on a high-energy show that was the best of the jamr.

Closing Sizzlin’ 17 was George Thorogood and the Destroyers, who actually took on the task of closing even though they were on a one-month break from touring. Even though they are touted as the greatest bar band in the world, their show worked well on the big stage and were making their fourth Moondance Jam performance. The band opened with the new song “Rock Party” and then proceeded to rock their way through most of their hits such as “Move It on Over,” “I Drink Alone,” “Bad to the Bone,” and “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” At this point, the cool weather and high winds had driven many back to camp. The weather was no deterrent to Thorogood though, as he returned to the stage late in the set without a jacket and with his sleeves rolled up to perform “Love Doctor.” Those who braved the elements to the end were treated to a nice set that capped off another successful Moondance Jam.

Back in 1992, Bill Bieloh never imagined that Moondance Jam would grow to such a premiere festival. After asking Bieloh if he ever dreamed what Moondance would turn into, he replied, “Never in a million years.” In June 2007 an annual country festival, Moondance Jammin’ Country, was added and has taken off and is challenging the biggest country festivals in the US. What is next in store for Moondance Jam? “Next year will be three nights with bigger name acts,” says Bieloh. One thing is for certain, Moondance Jam Sizzlin’ 17 will be hard to top.

For more information about Moondance Jam, visit the official website at There you will find information about next year’s event and links to all Moondance activities. Beginning August 15, early bird tickets will go on sale for Moondance Jam 18. For about a month, regular and VIP tickets will be sold at the cheapest price of the year. Moondance Jam 18 will take place from July 16-18, 2009.