Moondance Jam 19

Something For Everyone at Moondance Jam 19

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Walker, Minnesota hosted the 19th Moondance Jam to a crowd of several thousand rock fans from Wednesday through Saturday last week .

Don Felder of The Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd highlighted rock from the early years, the 1980s were represented by Pat Benatar, Sammy Hagar, Cinderella and REO Speedwagon, the 1990s with Hoobastank, Collective Soul, and Jonny Lang, and even Buckcherry for a slightly modern tone. With all the bands and music there was definitely something for everyone.

The way that the bands were scheduled added to the festivals’ diversity in how the fans and personalities responded to the music. On Thursday it was mostly nineties night with Tonic, Hoobastank, Collective Soul, and Buckcherry rocking in headliner Sammy Hagar. The crowd was loud and it was a very late night of harder hits.

On Friday it was a calmer festival with Don Felder playing through the Eagles catalog and few other bluesy hits (including a nice tribute and heartfelt words about Stevie Ray Vaughn). Felder was gracious after the show while signing a few autographs and chatting with fans. It was amazing that he is approachable considering just how many hits that the Eagles have produced in their tenure as a band. Felder does a great job on the guitar and singing the songs as well.

Initially I thought that it would be better to see the Eagles with their sans-Felder lineup, but while listening to Felder’s accents and styles on guitar it made the music of The Eagles more authentic. Henley has a great voice, but Felder adds some balls to the bands’ sound on guitar.

Felder also added intimacy to his set by talking about how happy he was to be at Moondance 19 and how great the crowd was. Like Grand Funk Railroad the year before, Felder also had a far too early time slot for his stature.

Last year the evening that Grand Funk played (and stole the show in my opinion) was headlined by Journey. In a similar set up it felt like Felder overshadowed headliner REO Speedwagon. REO also felt a lot like a 1980s version of Journey when watching them live in that it was melodic or safe rock. Listening to REO for the first time in person it was also surprising just how many songs Adam Sandler has used in his movies. They had a ton of hits, but were a bit too lite-rock for my taste.

The campers, who are set up just outside of the festival give it character with their decorated sites and the endless rows of collapsible chairs surrounding the stage. The concert venue is well laid out and has lots of concessions and other attractions as well. There were several tattoo shops, an oxygen bar, foods from around the globe, and even a mechanical bull.

Pat Benatar, who played between Felder and REO on Friday, remindind me of Sheryl Crow from last year’s Moondance in the amount of security that she was surrounded by pre-show. She didn’t meet with fans or seem to connect with the crowd as much as the other bands did. "Love Is a Battlefield", "Hit Me with Your Best Shot", "We Belong" and "Heartbreaker” were excellent hits when Benatar ruled the radio, but when played live they were not the tightest tunes.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, who headlined and closed out the festival on Saturday, is becoming a shell of what they once were with only Gary Rossington on guitar from the original lineup. All of the other original members have passed away or no longer perform, but the band carries on the Skynyrd spirit. The fans knew every word to every song, but it felt a bit like a tribute band. There were once lawsuits that dictated that the band had to have a minimum of two original members to retain the name, but times have changed.

Moondance is a great festival for your summer dollar. It always feels safe and is extremely well organized. The drive to Walker from Duluth is very enjoyable and flies by as you pass through the deep woods. Visit to learn more about the concert, the different ticket options, and line ups.