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July 19-21, 2018 - Walker, MN

Moondance Jam Sweet 16 kicks off Wednesday with its 'best' lineup ever

by Dean Morrill
The Pilot-Independent

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

For 15 years, Moondance has billed itself as "the campin' and jammin' event of the summer."

Moondance Jam Sweet 16, which kicks off Wednesday, will once again feature some of the biggest rock and classic rock groups around.

Near perfect weather has been forecasted for the Jam. Meteorologist predict partly to mostly sunny skies during all four days, with highs in the mid to upper 70s. No rain is in the long-range forecast.

Bill Bieloh, who along with his wife Kathy owns and promotes the event, expects record crowds to turn out, especially for Def Leppard's performance Wednesday night.

"We're really encouraging everyone who is coming out Wednesday not to wait," he said.

An extra State Highway Patrol officer and Cass County deputy will be on duty to deal with the extra traffic.

Also new this year are upgrades to the grounds, including new reserved camping areas and the Lazy Moon Backstage Bar where all jammers can see the bands come and go from a screened-in deck.

Passes for the Jam are available at the gate and online. Single-day tickets cost $70, while four-day passes are $150.

Jammers can also purchase tickets at www.moondancejam.com, or get the Jam Pack, which includes special promotions, directions and useful information.

Last week, the Bielohs learned that Smash Mouth and The Original Family Stone, bands scheduled to perform Friday and Saturday night respectively, were forced to cancel. Smash Mouth was scheduled to perform at 9 p.m., but due to recording company obligations, they are unable to make the trip. Minnesota's own Soul Asylum, known for such hits as "Runaway Train," "Black Gold" and "Misery," has been signed to replace them.

Thunderstruck, a regional band, will perform Saturday at 4:30 p.m. on the main stage, replacing The Original Family Stone who backed out of its contract.

Band cancellings have happened only a few times in the event's recent history.

"When you have 16 national bands, you're always going to have a couple problems," Bieloh said.

The New Cars were forced to opt out last year when one of its members was injured in a car accident. The New Cars are back this year and will close Friday night.

Because of the cancellations and the addition of female duo Bomshel, a country group hired to promote next year's Country Jammin Fest scheduled for June 19-21, Soul Asylum will go on at 9:30 p.m.

The FIXX will go on 30 minutes earlier Friday night at 6:30 p.m., followed by Bomshel at 8 p.m. Bomshel is the only band that played at the inaugural Country Jammin Fest booked to perform at the 2008 event.

Moondance Sweet 16 kicks off with arguably the best Wednesday lineup in the Jam's history.

Jackyl, a Georgia band known for their hard, heavy metal and Southern rock, takes the main stage first. They will be followed by Loverboy and Tesla, who have both performed previously at Moondance.

Def Leppard will close the first night. The England-based band began performing more than 30 years ago and continues to play to sold-out shows.

Bieloh said Def Leppard's eight semis full of equipment, including sound and lighting, came in Tuesday night. It will take 35 stage crew members about eight hours to set up four of the semis, with a new staff brought in to set up the final four semis.

Thursday night, previous jammers Kansas, Big Head Todd and The Monsters, REO Speedwagon and Cheap Trick return for encore performances.

Rock 'n' roll legends Toto, Moody Blues and Rick Springfield will take the stage Saturday night. It's the first time Toto and the Moody Blues will perform at Moondance.

Also being held this year is the Moondance Jam Camp Site Contest that will feature winners from all six campgrounds and a grand champion. There is no theme for this year's contest.