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Benatar, Nugent ignite crowd
Both promote new releases at Moondance Jam

Tempo Correspondent

Thursday, July 19, 2001

WALKER -- The 10th annual Moondance Jam wrapped up its four-day call-to-worship for classic rock's faithful Saturday with rousing performances by Pat Benatar and Ted Nugent.

For more than an hour after nightfall, Benatar ignited the crowd, about 12,000 strong, with her Grammy-winning standards "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," "Love Is a Battlefield" and others, as well as several cuts from her soon-to-be-released album "Girl."

Before her arrival, a crowd had gathered back stage in the hopes of catching a close-up look at the star, but Benatar and her band slipped on stage without notice.

Husband Neil Giraldo, as usual, grooved on lead guitar at Benatar's side, with skills that show no signs of abating after a 20-year partnership with the singer -- a marriage of their hearts as well as their music. The guitarist has produced most of Benatar's albums.

The singer -- all five feet of her -- strutted in a skin-tight black tank-top and matching pants, adorned only with a diamond-studded belt buckle the size of an elephant's eye.

At 48, Benatar may have lost a little of her three-octave range, but she can still belt out a song with a voice that made her a certified rock and roll superstar more than 20 years ago.

From 1980 to 1983, the singer captured an unprecedented four straight Grammys and four other Grammy nominations. "Girl," a compilation of original songs, is due out next year, according to Benatar's publicity materials.

Nugent, at $100,000 the highest paid act at this year's Jam, lathered the audience with his typical wild and wooly show.

The musician -- who doubles as a National Rifle Association board member and gun-control critic -- is touring this summer with Lynyrd Skynyrd. He's promoting his latest release "Full Bluntal Nugity," as well as his views on everything from freedom and the American way to the virtues of hunting and fishing.

He arrived just minutes before show time, after a day of fishing on area lakes, according to a member of his team.

Clear skies and warm temperatures brought the crowds out for this year's Jam, held on a 200-acre site a few miles east of Walker.

Over the festival's four days, an estimated 50,000 to 55,000 people jammed to the sounds of classic rockers Creedence Clearwater Revisited, George Thorogood, REO Speedwagon and others, as well as to contemporary groups The Blues Travelers, the Wallflowers and Big Head Todd.

The music lineup for this year's festival departed slightly from tradition with the addition of groups that emerged in the 1990s, such as Big Head Todd.

The Jam's founder Bill Bieloh said the change was intended to attract the twentysomethings who grew up with contemporary and alternative rock music, as opposed to music from the 1970s and 1980s.

Surveys show that the average age of Moondance's audience is 36.7 years, with classic rock and roll their music of choice.

"We want to offer music for every generation," Bieloh said.