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Moondance Jam
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Moondance III: Mud, Sun, Fun

Story by Steve Waller
Brainerd Daily Dispatch

Wednesday, July 13, 1994

WALKER – Friday’s "Mud Dance Jamboree" dried out Saturday to become a "Sun Dance" celebration of summer music, part of which was performed by artists in the autumn of 1tfe.

The bottom line: Walker’s third annual mini-Woodstock endured a drenching that may have kept some fair-weather fans away. By the time Detroit’s Midnight Shift opened the second half of Moondance Jam III, skies cleared and spirits lifted.

After sets from Dacotah, Killer Hayseeds, Sparky and the Tlme Pirates, Evangeline and Johnny PayCheck, a star-filled sky gave Gary Puckett the perfect backdrop for nostalgic bliss. ’The man with six straight Gold records from yesteryear demonstrated professional showmanship.

The festival east of Walker on Bill Bieloh’s horse ranch may still be short of financial feasibility. But that’s how it goes with artistic ventures. As next year’s talent line-up is discussed, Bieloh sounds committed.

Sawyer Brown is considering. Other names are tossed around as hoped-for acts to give the rock/country show the Big Name among contemporary artists that would put Moondance on the map.

This year’s fest featured Pirates of the Mississippi as Friday’s closer, a climax reached via regional ensembles with limited notoriety. The evening peak, perhaps, came with Mel McDaniels ("Louisiana Saturday Night," "Baby’s Got Her Bluejeans On"), backed by a tightknit band.

Saturday offered a bit of female stage talent in an otherwise male-dominated venue. First, Pinky of the St. Cloud band Dacotah showed why she’s one of the top vocalists in a sea of bar bands.

Then, along came a sparkling, impressive Cajun trio named Evangeline. ’The Jimmy Buffet discovery that has shared venues with the Subdudes, Buckwheat Zydeco, Wynnona and Tanya Tucker put on such a good show that folks who had been pounding the muddy dance area down front chose to sit down. They were more interested in listening.

By the time aging Johnny PayCheck arrived in a futile attempt to tune his guitar while his well-armed band covered for him, a number of all-day drinkers cared less about the crabby crooner. The party went on despite him

Perhaps Moondance will survive to attain WeFest validity. If nature cooperates to match a worthy talent line-up, Moondance will be Alive in ’95.