WALKER -- Moondance Jam 12, like every other Jam, featured camping and games and rides.
For all of that, however, people still came for the music. They came from all over the state and the Midwest. Some even updated their passports and traveled across foreign borders to get to the Jam.
So it was Friday night, as thousands of Jammers left the campgrounds to pile into the concert area to take in Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Foreigner and Boston. Standing straight back from the main stage, taking in the entire scene, Ed Vanvleet, of St. Michael, Minn., was listening to Foreigner while also getting ready to play a gig with his band, the Mark Anthony Storm Project in the regional bands tent, near the rear of the fairgrounds.
“I played here last year with Cold Front,” Vanvleet said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Vanvleet added he’s been impressed with the Moondance’s crowd and the level of respect they show to the acts.
“The crowds are very good,” he said. “Very responsive.”
Bemidji resident Alan Steffen has made it to every Jam save the first two. When asked why he keeps coming to the Jam each summer, Steffen was quick to reply: “The mixture of bands and the quality crowds.”
He’s also seen the Jam improve each year as far amenities and roads and campgrounds. Traffic in and out of the Jam site has also gotten better Steffen said.
“It’s not as congested as like a We Fest,” Steffen added of the event, which began Wednesday and ended Saturday night.
He also noted the sound quality coming out of the main stage has also been good through the years.
“I think honestly, for an outdoor venue, I’d rate the sound really good,” he said.
Steffen said he was in a touring rock band in the 60s and 70s and outdoor sound quality is one of the most difficult things for a crew to master.
John Evenson, of Pelican Rapids Minn., decided to opt out of camping this year for a room at the new Northern Lights Casino Hotel, just a couple of miles down the road from the Jam. In fact, Jammers staying at the casino didn’t even need to worry about making the short drive. Shuttle buses were running at frequent intervals between the casino and Jam site.
Evenson is also a Moondance veteran.
“This is about my fifth one,” Evenson said. He keeps coming back to mingle with the rock crowd, which he described as good music fans.
Evenson noted he was particularly excited to see the band War at this year’s Jam. Although he added he’s been impressed with the entire lineup.
“Without a doubt,” he said. Like Steffen he’s been impressed with the sound from the main stage. “The quality is great,” Evenson said.
He added down front, close to the stage, where sound is often distorted, Moondance’s sound quality remains high. Moondance Jam 12 also marked the fifth visit for Paul and Cheryl Lasalle, of Cohasset, Minn. They’re camping this year, and when asked if he prefers the music or the camping, Paul Lasalle responded with a smile: “Sometimes it’s a toss up.”
Lasalle added the lineups the Jam provides is one of the biggest factors that keeps drawing him back to the event. Cheryl Lasalle said the Jam’s amenities have always been good, but she likes the increased number of bars.
“The bar thing has improved,” she said. While the Lasalles weren’t as impressed with this year’s lineup as they have been with past acts, there was still one band in particular they wanted to see.
“Boston,” Cheryl Lasalle said. “We’re big Boston fans.”