WALKER – Tom Smith watches rock music from behind a camera, where he sees right into fans’ minds.
“The baby-boomer generation wants to relive their youth at all costs,” he said.
That is why there could be up to 20,000 classic rock fans near Walker today as Moondance Jam ends its four-day run. It costs some more than they can afford, Smith said.
Music performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top and John Fogerty, for instance, takes them back to when they were introduced to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, said Smith, who has chronicled rock concerts for 24 years.
Classic rock is important, he said. “Usually, it is music you heard at an impressionable age,” Smith added.
Moondance, in fields southeast of Walker, today features a variety of regional bands all afternoon and evening and main-stage entertainment tonight from The Fixx, John Waite, Rick Springfield and Huey Lewis and the News.
“It’s what I love,” said Smith, who at 43 still hopes to take up the rock photography gig full time.
Smith, from the central Minnesota town of Crosby, estimates he has photographed nearly 300 bands, the Rolling Stones eight times. His photos of Elvis Costello, The Clash and Police are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Smith likes other music – he sometimes listens to his father’s Fats Domino albums – but “when the chips are down, it is rock ‘n’ roll.”
That seems to be the attitude of many Moondance jammers.
For example, visit the “Barnesville bar boosters” camping spot at Moondance. Many of the 14 Barnesville residents – or those with close connections to the town – camping at the music festival are not hooked on classic rock; they listen to other music (but not rap, they agree). However, talk to them for a few minutes, and it is obvious classic rock is their favorite, and in some cases their passion.
Take Everett Mostue. The night Credence Clearwater Revival played Moondance a few years ago, “I died and went to heaven,” he said.
Karen Johnson, standing behind a padded bar under a canopy among the Barnesville campers, the key to rock bands is the good ones don’t drastically change.
“You can hear them live and their music still sounds the same,” Johnson said.
Others chimed in that too many musicians in other genres change their tune, literally, over the years.
“They stick to their roots,” Johnson’s husband, LeRoy, said of rockers.
Classic rock “really means something to them,” LeRoy Johnson added, because often the performers wrote the songs themselves.
Mike Ness remembered attending a Scorpions concert in 1984, during military service in Spain. He heard the group two years ago at Moondance: “They sounded exactly the same.”