WALKER -- Some of the biggest rock and roll bands to emerge in the 1970s will be reunited at Moondance Jam VIII, which opens July 7 with a warm-up event featuring a 1960s rocker, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.
Fifteen major and middling performers have been booked for the four-day outdoor festival, but another -- and perhaps the biggest of them all -- has decided not to come.
In an interview this week, the manager for Hootie and the Blowfish confirmed that the group is booked for an event July 8 in Sioux City, Iowa, and has never intended to appear at Moondance Jam on that day. Hootie also will play July 9 at the Basilica Block Party in downtown Minneapolis.
Moondance founder and promoter Bill Bieloh, however, said the group has been under contract for several months, and until recent weeks he expected Hootie to headline the festival's opening day lineup of classic rock and roll. Lawsuits may be in the making.
Moondance fans, however, remain undeterred by the mix-up if ticket sales are any indication. An estimated 60,000 people are expected for the event, which begins in earnest July 8 at Bieloh's 280-acre farm east of Walker with .38 Special, Eddie Money and REO Speedwagon, all of whom have been cutting hit records since the 1970s.
Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams Jr. will headline the Jam on July 9, followed by Cheap Trick, Blue Oyster Cult and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts in the July 10 lineup. With the exception of Joan Jett, the groups are the same that come to mind when the word "classic" is applied to rock and roll.
Several regional bands, including local favorites Silent Partner and The Retractions, will perform on secondary stages during the changeovers on the main stage.
The regional groups will engage in a North-South "battle of the bands" for the right to appear on the main stage at some point in the festivities. The Retractions will host the stage when the Northern contingent performs in the contest.
Eddie Money was a late addition to the cast, according to Moondance officials. He was voted the favorite entertainer at last year's Jam in an on-line poll following the event.
If you plan to go, leave home early. Parking has been expanded at the festival site a couple of miles east of the intersection of highways 200 and 371, but count on scrambling for space. Moondance is offering a shuttle service from the parking lots at Moondance Ranch and Wildlife Park and Northern Lights Casino, both near the 200-371 intersection.
Festival tickets are $50 for daily admission and $100 for a three-day pass. For ticket information call 877-MOONJAM, or 218-547-1055.