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 thousand 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.
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 has increased almost every year, with 2007 featuring 16 bands, including Def Leppard. 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.Moondance Jam Festival Line Up - 2014
Seether, Collective Soul, Alter Bridge, Sublime with Rome, Sick Puppies, Styx, Foreigner, Don Felder, Skillet, Autograph, REO Speedwagon, George Thorogood & the Destroyers, The Wallflowers, SlaughterMoondance Jam Festival Line Up - 2013
Motley Crue, Cheap Trick, Bachman Turner Overdrive, The Offspring, Theory of a Deadman, Halestorm, Head EastMoondance Jam Festival Line Up - 2012
Kid Rock, Hinder, Skid Row, Free Fallin, John Fogerty, Three Days Grace, Don Felder, Cavo, Them Pesky Kids, Heart, Grand Funk Railroad, Night Ranger, Motley Inc, The Atomic Punks 1992 - MOONDANCE JAM & BAR-B-QUE
Bill Bieloh, of Walker, Minnesota conceived the Jam in 1992 as a way to promote the riding stables he and his wife Kathy own. The event got off to a modest start that first year by featuring a roster of regional bands. 1993 - MOONDANCE JAM II
The second year, national artists such as the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Bad Finger, Head East and more, along with an impressive lineup of regional bands highlighted a year of tremendous growth.1994 - MOONDANCE JAM III
Moondance Jam III in 1993 had a decidedly county slant to it. Pirates of the Mississippi, Johnny PayCheck, Evangeline and Gary Puckett performed, along with regional and local bands. This was the first time an event had been held in the Walker area with a large lineup of national recording artists. The modest interest in the turnout for Country artists coupled with poor weather made Jam IV look doubtful.1995 - MOONDANCE JAM IV
In its fourth year Moondance Jam came of age. The Jam brought a "Who's Who" of top 40 artists whose hits spanned three decades. The Grass Roots, Guess Who, Survivor, Starship and Kansas along with two nights of great weather and a vastly improved light and sound system drew record crowds and put Moondance Jam on the concert map.1996 - MOONDANCE JAM V
Moondance Jam V featured many prominent national acts. Some of the performers in 1996 included: The Byrds Celebration, Three Dog Night, Mitch Ryder, Starship, Randy Bachman and .38 Special. Poor weather threatened all weekend, but never really let loose. However, the record breaking crowds did let loose and Moondance Jam was on its way to becoming the premiere rock music festival in the Midwest.1997 - MOONDANCE JAM VI
By 1997, more than 35,000 Jammers flocked to the festival and packed the concert site for three days. The increase in numbers was due in part to big headline bands like REO Speedwagon, America, Grand Funk Railroad and Corey Stevens. The other reason was that the word was getting around about the event. So much so that, more than 300 cars had to be turned around at the gate on Saturday night before REO Speedwagon hit the stage.1998 - MOONDANCE JAM VII
The Jam officially became the largest rock festival in the state of Minnesota in 1998. A crowd in excess of 50,000 were entertained and delighted by the likes of Foghat, Jonny Lang and Steve Miller Band on Thursday; John Entwistle (formerly of the Who), Alan Parsons Project, and Yes on Friday; Saturday's lineup of The Romantics, April Wine, Steppenwolf, Eddie Money and Foreigner.
Despite attempts by organizers to upgrade facilities, including an additional 160 acres of parking, the event site and the roads leading up to the fairgrounds were grid locked with traffic stretching back towards Walker for nearly seven miles. As the time approached for Jonny Lang to take the stage many people simply pulled off the side of the road, parked in the ditch and began the long walk to the fairgrounds. Some people walked as far as five miles to reach the Jam site. Despite the gridlock, there was a festive atmosphere among the people as they walked towards the distant sound of music. It was the most remarkable scene in the history of the Jam.1999 - MOONDANCE JAM VIII
Two inches of rain fell on the Jam site opening day turning much of the grounds into a muddy mess. The Moondance Jam crew had to shuffle parking, camping, and shuttles to make up for approximately twenty-five percent of the grounds being saturated and to handle the tens of thousands of Jammers who traveled hundreds of miles to party with Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, The Outfield, Hank Williams Jr., Lynyrd Skynyrd, REO Speedwagon, and many others. Lynyrd Skynyrd was one of the major highlights of Jam VIII, along with The Outfield, the mud, and the nice weather on Saturday.2000 - MOONDANCE JAM 9
Moondance Jam 2000 got big performances from the Beach Boys, George Thorogood, STYX, and Peter Frampton among the many prominent national bands who made up the best Jam lineup since it was conceived.
The lineup and perfect weather brought in record breaking crowds to camp, party, and jam the weekend away. Thousands of Jammers were able to park off-site and shuttle to the Jam site and back effortlessly.2001 - MOONDANCE JAM 10
The 10th Anniversary of Moondance Jam was highlighted with clear skies, warm temps, and a little twist in the lineup. Classic rockers from the 70's and 80's Ted Nugent, Pat Benatar, CCR, George Thorogood, Night Ranger, & REO Speedwagon were meshed with 90's groups Big head Todd & the Monsters, Blues Traveler, and The Wallflowers.2002 - MOONDANCE JAM 11
"A number of Jammers who had been at previous festivals commented this year's crowd was the biggest they had seen. This year's Jam featured a new stage design with more lights and louder sound. Jammers in the dancing area directly in front of the stage were clearly impressed with not only the stage's sound power, but the sound quality as well." -George Fairbanks
For the second straight year, the Jam offered music from the 70's, 80's, and 90's with top performances coming from Journey, STYX, Indigenous, Blondie, The Scorpions, Gin Blossoms, and Loverboy.2003 - MOONDANCE JAM 12
A little rain early on, didn't put a damper on the biggest rock 'n' roll party in Minnesota. The Jam produced record crowds for Friday and Saturday. The campgrounds and fairgrounds were more organized then ever making for an incredible experience for most Jammers. Several of the bands even commented that Moondance Jam was a great place to play.
Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar, Boston, George Thorogood, Rick Springfield, Joan Jett, and Joe Cocker were the big names headliners along with a handful of others that put on a fantastic show.2004 - MOONDANCE JAM 13
Lucky 13 turned out to be all of what its name implied. Four days of perfect weather, great music, and great people.
Record crowds showed up on Wednesday for ZZ Top and seemed to stick around for all four days. The new Moondance Jam Saloon regional stage, the friendly Jammers, and the campgrounds with all of their unique setups and activities were a ton of entertainment by themselves. Add to it all of the fantastic performances from ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Huey Lewis & the News, Rick Springfield, Santana's Gregg Rolie, The Allman Brothers, Pat Benatar, and some of the other lesser known acts, and it became an awesome spectacle. With all that said, it is hard to believe that one performer could steal the show at Lucky 13. 2005 - MOONDANCE JAM 14
Fab 14 will be remembered for so many reasons it is impossible to pick out a single highlight. Every day temperatures soared & allowed Jammers hang out all day and party all night. Jammers who drove in on Wednesday won't forget the endless line of traffic trying to make it in before .38 Special and Skynyrd unleashed their tight Southern Rock assault on the largest Wednesday night crowd in Jam history. 2005 had something for everyone. Eighties rockers Tesla, Cinderella and Whitesnake wowed Jammers with their heavy rock and 80's ballads. REO and Journey brought down the house with their arena rock anthems, while Cheap Trick, Grand Funk and Blackfoot kept the 70's classic rock nostalgia.
Saturday's crowd got an emotional Tribute to Our Troops as 13 year-old Kristy Peterson sang "God Bless America" and a song she wrote with her father called "Solider Come Home" with the American Legion Post 134 Honor Guard presenting the colors. Afterward, a surprise flyover by a Blackhawk helicopter added the final touch to an emotional moment.
Fab 14 literally wore out everyone from Jammers to promoters, but in the end it improved, once again, on the positive tradition of Moondance Jam: Music, Good Times, Friendship & Celebration. Like Lucky 13, Fab 14 went down as one of the best, if not the best, Jams to date!2006 - MOONDANCE JAM 15
Dream 15 continued the tradition of the Jam: great rock music, thousands of festive fans, and a friendly campin' & jammin' atmosphere. Record crowds and record temperatures slowed jammers down a little during the early and mid afternoon hours, but as the bands hit the stage the fairgrounds were the place to be. It was difficult to single out the top acts of the weekend because all of the bands played very good or great shows: Heart, Poison, Alice Cooper, Steve Miller, The Doobies, Nuge, The Bangles, The Guess Who, Gregg Rolie, KWS, Dennis DeYoung, Steppenwolf, Mickey Thomas, The Outlaws, Little River Band and Y&T. A great review of all of the acts can be found at Classic Rock Revisited.
Even though all of the bands were solid, Poison's show was the highlight for many Jammers. They had been requested for many years and did not dissapoint. Their sound and energy had the entire crowd singing, dancing and jammin throughout the concert.
One of the coolest spectacles of the weekend was the storm that formed when Ted Nugent hit the stage. It was as if nature knew The Nuge was taking the mic. A wall of clouds soaked in the fireball sunset moved in on the over heated crowd. As it darkened, the storm moved closer and the rain started coming down rejuvenating Jammers as Ted's energy on stage escalated. The entire show took a life of its own as lightening shot across the sky and Ted wailed on his guitar to a sea of glistening arms raised toward the sky in celebration of the surreal show of music and nature.