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Moondance Jam is an annual rock and classic rock festival held in mid-July in the Leech Lake/Chippewa National Forest Area near Walker, Minnesota. It is recognized as Minnesota's largest rock festival and the premier classic rock festival in the United States. The Jam has gone from being a party for a few hundred family and friends back in 1992 to a rock 'n' roll and camping celebration that entertains tens of thousands today mainly because it has maintained a clean, safe and friendly atmosphere along with open festival seating for general admission ticket holders.
The Moondance Jam was started by Bill and Kathy Bieloh in 1992, when they sought a way to promote the riding stables that they owned. The first jam was a modest start featuring mostly regional acts, as well as The Blenders, spread out over two days. In 1993, the jam expanded and featured Head East and Badfinger, beginning a tradition of more established and popular classic rock acts. For the third jam in 1994, popular country artists were brought in, and it became the most country music styled jam to date with bands like Pirates of the Mississippi and Johnny Paycheck.
The mid-1990s established Moondance Jam as the highly popular annual classic rock festival that it is today. 1995's jam featured the most popular classic rock acts yet, including Kansas, The Guess Who, Survivor and Starship featuring Mickey Thomas. The following year, the tradition continued with Starship featuring Mickey Thomas once again, along with Three Dog Night, Randy Bachman of Bachman–Turner Overdrive, .38 Special and the Edgar Winter Group. In 1997, the festival was lengthened to three days, and a record 35,000 people attended the jam. REO Speedwagon, America, Grand Funk Railroad and Loverboy entertained the record crowds.
The late 1990s
Moondance Jam became Minnesota's largest rock festival after 1998's jam when a crowd of 50,000 showed up to hear the music of a record number of national classic rock acts including Steve Miller, Foreigner, Yes and April Wine. After the jam of '98, the facilities were upgraded since traffic became backed up over 7 miles (11 km) leading up to the site. Many attendees pulled to the side of the road and walked five miles (8 km) to get to the grounds. In 1999, the jam continued to grow, although two inches of rain on the opening day created large amounts of mud that made a mess of the facility. Still, bands including Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Öyster Cult, Joan Jett and Electric Light Orchestra took the stage.
2000 and beyond
2000's jam featured a more organized facility with an expanded parking lot, more camping space, and shuttles to and from each area of the grounds. Peter Frampton, The Beach Boys, Joe Walsh, Styx and The Doobie Brothers were among the largest spectrum of national classic rock acts yet. The Moondance Jam celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2001 with good weather and bands like Ted Nugent, Pat Benatar, Molly Hatchet, Night Ranger and George Thorogood, along with a very large selection of regional bands. 2002 continued the tradition with improved sound and lighting effects and bands such as Journey, Styx, Blondie, Scorpions and Loverboy. Four nights of the nation's top national classic rock bands in 2003 made the jam the largest classic rock festival in the United States. Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar, Lou Gramm and Boston drew in a record crowd.
The Jam today
Since 2004, the Jam has been acclaimed as "the best classic rock festival in the nation", and as one of the best music festivals. The quantity and the popularity of the national classic rock bands increased almost every year afterward.
The Jam has also become a place for regional acts to find an audience on two smaller stages; one in the Moondance Saloon and the acoustic stage in the Lazy Moon Backstage Bar. The Lazy Moon Backstage bar was added to provide more entertainment and an opportunity for fans to get an up close view of the backstage area. The backstage viewing along with festival seating continues the Moondance tradition of giving general admission ticket holders more opportunities to get close to their favorite bands.
In 2010, Moondance Jam added a few modern and 90s rock bands to their festival lineup to mix in with the classic rockers. It turned out to be a huge success with huge crowds packing the festival grounds all three days. Blaze TV also joined the party to film 10 of shows in HD for DIRECTV. The programs aired as part of the DIRECTV Concert Series on The 101 Network from November 2010 through 2012. Moondance Jam has continued the mix modern and 90s rock bands with its 80s and classic rock lineup since then.
Moondance Jam is Minnesota’s largest rock festival and one of the premier classic rock festivals in the United States. The Jam is patrolled by many police agencies, as well as EMS crews in case of an emergency. The Jam features a rock and classic rock lineup, 300 acres (1.2 km2) of camping and facilities, food and beverage stands, open festival seating up to the stage, along with available VIP seating and treatment. The friendly and safe atmosphere is considered one of reasons why the festival has gone from being a party for a few thousand in 1992 to an event that entertains tens of thousands from all over the world.
Promotion and production
In 2005, Moondance Jam was named the Premier Classic Rock Festival in the United States by the Classic Rock Revisited magazine and fanzine The event, along with its sister festival, Moondance Jammin Country Fest, was produced by TEA Productions of Minneapolis until 2011. In 2010, ten Moondance shows were filmed and produced by Blaze TV exclusively for DIRECTV to be shown on The 101 Network's concert series and rerun for two years. Reo Speedwagon also released the album "Live at Moondance Jam" from the Blaze TV footage. This was also the year that Moondance Jam began to feature more 90s and modern acts to go with its classic rock and 80s lineup of bands. Moondance's current production company is Neste Event Marketing of Nashville. They have been producing both festivals since the 2011-2012 season.
Past (and current) national bands at the Jam
JAM 24 - 2015 Nickelback (cancelled), Shinedown, The Doobie Brothers, Huey Lewis and the News, Peter Frampton, Papa Roach, Black Stone Cherry, Jefferson Starship, Finger Eleven, Vixen, Honeymoon Suite, ThundHerStruck
JAM 23 - 2014 REO Speedwagon, Styx, Seether, Foreigner, Collective Soul, George Thorogood, Sublime with Rome, Don Felder, Alterbridge, Skillet, The Wallflowers, Sick Puppies, Slaughter, Autograph, Badfinger featuring Joey Molland
JAM 22 - 2013 Mötley Crüe, Slash, The Offspring, Cheap Trick, Bachman & Turner, Theory Of A Deadman, Buckcherry, Blue Öyster Cult, Halestorm, Shooting Star, Johnny Rivers, Head East, Cain, Sweet, Atomic Punks
JAM 21 - 2012 Kid Rock, John Fogerty, Heart, Hinder, Three Days Grace, Grand Funk Railroad, Skid Row, Don Felder, Night Ranger, April Wine, Cavo, Atomic Punks: The Tribute to Early Van Halen, Motley Inc: A Tribute to Mötley Crüe, Free Fallin: Tribute to Tom Petty, Them Pesky Kids, Hairball, Mountain Ash, The Bad Animals: A Tribute To Heart
JAM 20 - 2011 Three Doors Down, KISS, Stone Temple Pilots, 38 Special, Paul Rodgers, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Great White, Eddie Money, Candlebox, Outlaws, Fuel, Burton Cummings, Cracker, Belfast Cowboys: A Tribute To Van Morrison, ThundHerStruck: A Tribute To AC/DC, Hairball, Mountain Ash, Cain, The Bad Animals: A Tribute To Heart
JAM 19 - 2010 Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sammy Hagar and the Wabos, Buckcherry, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Jonny Lang, Collective Soul, Don Felder, The Smithereens, Hoobastank, Cinderella, Black Stone Cherry, Pat Travers, Blackberry Smoke, Tonic
JAM 18 (Rockin' 18) - 2009 Journey, Yes, Judas Priest, Sheryl Crow, Whitesnake, Asia, Kansas, Grand Funk Railroad, Lita Ford, Foghat, Spin Doctors, Shooting Star, Zed Leppelin, ThundHerStruck, Ozzmosis
JAM 17 (Sizzlin' 17) - 2008 Crosby, Stills & Nash, Poison, Sammy Hagar & The Wabos, Styx, George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Sweet, Great White, Toto The Guess Who, Boz Scaggs, Sebastian Bach, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Gear Daddies, Otis Day and the Knights, Led Zepagain
JAM 16 (Sweet 16) - 2007 Def Leppard, The New Cars, The Moody Blues, Rick Springfield, REO Speedwagon, Tesla, Toto, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Loverboy, The Fixx, Kansas, Rick Derringer, Jackyl, Soul Asylum, Cheap Trick, Scarlet Haze
JAM 15 (Dream 15) - 2006 Heart, Poison, Alice Cooper, Steve Miller Band, Doobie Brothers, Ted Nugent, The Bangles, The Guess Who, Dennis DeYoung, Gregg Rolie Band, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, John Kay & Steppenwolf, Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, Outlaws, Little River Band, Y&T
JAM 14 (Fab 14) - 2005 Twisted Sister, Whitesnake, Cinderella, Journey, Tesla, REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, Grand Funk Railroad, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 38 Special, Ratt, FireHouse, Blackfoot, Wishbone Ash, Loverboy, Daisy Dillman Band, Savoy Brown
JAM 13 (Lucky 13) - 2004 Huey Lewis and the News, Rick Springfield, John Waite, The FIXX, John Fogerty, Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, Santana's Gregg Rolie, Edgar Winter, The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Little Feat, ZZ Top, Chris Robinson & NEM
JAM 12 - 2003 Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar & the Waboritas, Boston, Joe Cocker, George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Rick Springfield, Joan Jett, Gypsy, Lou Gramm, War, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Indigenous, Mitch Ryder, Head East, Corey Stevens, Rockin Dopsie Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters,
JAM 11 - 2002 Scorpions, Deep Purple, Dio, Loverboy, Journey, Blondie, Indigenous, Gypsy, Meat Loaf, Styx, Gin Blossoms, Black Oak Arkansas, .38 Special, The Little River Band, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Gary Puckett
JAM 10 - 2001 Ted Nugent, Pat Benatar, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Night Ranger, Dave Mason, George Thorogood & the Delaware Destroyers, REO Speedwagon, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Molly Hatchet, The Wallflowers, Blues Traveler, The Marshall Tucker Band, Head East, The Byrds Celebration, The Little River Band
JAM 2000 Peter Frampton, The Beach Boys, Paul Rodgers, The Knack, The Yardbirds, Joe Walsh, George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, NRBQ (New Rhythm & Blues Quartet), Leslie West of Mountain, The Doobie Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Leon Russell, Styx, Eric Burdon & the New Animals, Rockin Dopsie Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters
JAM VIII - 1999 Cheap Trick, ELO Part II, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Blue Öyster Cult, The Outfield, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hank Williams, Jr., Chris Duarte, Lamont Cranston, REO Speedwagon, Eddie Money, .38 Special, John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band, Starship featuring Mickey Thomas, Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels
JAM '92 - 1992 The Blenders, Fantastic Convertibles, The Classics, Fever, Sparky and the Time Pirates