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Joan Jett brings modern sound to Moondance Jam

Tempo Correspondent


WALKER -- Among all the glitter and gloss of Moondance Jam's many legendary rock and roll stars, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts could be the diamond in the rough.

At a minimum, Jett's hybrid mixture of punk, heavy metal and traditional pop-rock will be a welcome relief from all the "bad boys" of Southern-style rock who dominate the music lineup.

Jett and her band are scheduled to take the Moondance stage at 7 p.m. Saturday. Mark it down if you want to see and hear one of rock's female legends at work.

Moondance Jam VIII was to get under way in earnest at 3 p.m. today with a couple of opening acts before .38 Special, Eddie Money and REO Speedwagon take over the night, starting at 7 p.m. Northern Minnesota's premier outdoor music festival runs through Saturday.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts bring a more contemporary sound to the Moondance music feast. The group's most recent release, "Fetish," appeared on shelves in just recent weeks. The cover photo features a post-modern, hair-clipped blonde (it is Jett, isn't it?), neck-tied in bondage gear, captured naked in a rearview lens.

Plug in the release and you can hear the early Jett of The Runaways (late 1970s) and the Blackhearts (early 1980s), with her grinding, earth-is-dead punk-rock sound that has influenced many 1990s alternative female rockers. It also features a new song or two, co-written with riot girl Kathleen Hanna.

Jett's music recalls the gritty mean streets of the East, as well as the underworld of the Far West. She and The Runaways were L.A. women who released three albums in the late 1970s that had much bigger success in Japan than they did here.

Jett moved to New York after The Runaways dissolved in late 1979, forming Joan Jett and the Blackhearts in 1981. Their "I Love Rock & Roll," released in 1981, brought them international fame. The title track spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the charts in early 1982.

Jett enjoyed off-and-on success for the balance of the 1980s, turning her attention from time to time to the movie and television industries. She appeared in the 1987 film, "Light of Day," and most recently, "Boogie Nights."

In 1988 she released "Up Your Alley," which went platinum, her second to do so, and one of the album's cuts, "I Hate Myself for Loving You," made it into the Top 10.

Jett's music presents feminist themes, but only as a $1 or $5 in a swollen wallet, and her sound is "tough, aggressive, sexual and gleefully defiant," according to one reviewer. That alone will not distinguish her from the rest of Moodance's lineup -- they all could be described with the same adjectives -- but she will slap us all awake with that bet'cha can't swagger.

Moondance notes:

Moving Company

A film company will shoot scenes at Moondance, according to the festival's promoters.

"Chasing Indigo," an independent production directed by Carol Brook-Marino, has been shooting in northern Minnesota over the past several weeks. It is an action comedy with an unknown cast, except Zach Hope, better-known as Bob Hope's grandson.

Jam VIII offers a built-in movie set and the filmmakers are taking advantage of the situation.

CajunFest '99

The Moondance promoters are taking over CajunFest from Northern Lights Casino, an 8-year-old summer festival featuring zydeco and other bayou-Louisiana music.

Northern Lights will continue as one of the event's major sponsors but the music and marketing functions will be assumed by Moondance staff, including founders Bill and Kathy Bieloh of Walker.