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Moondance Jam
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July 16-18, 2020 - Walker, MN


Moondance Jam VIII

The view from a first timer . . .

The rains that turned swamps into seas, road ruts into rivers and every piece of clothing you brought into one huge mass of dripping fabric couldn’t even begin to dampen the spirits at Moondance Jam VIII.

I arrived Wednesday morning to a traffic line of fans and campers that stretched bumper to bumper for over five miles! At first I was annoyed (OK, I bordered on being miffed . . . let’s be honest!), but I quickly was given an attitude adjustment that would last the entire Jam. Two persons far down the highway were going vehicle to vehicle. They weren’t missionaries working new rock concert territory; they were simply two people passing out water and pop. They asked nothing in return except that you PROMISE not to honk at the car in front of you! When they reached my Bronco they explained that their own rig had overheated and they had pushed it to the side of the road and were passing out drinks until it cooled down. I offered to give them a ride to a phone – they thanked me, but refused because they still had more drinks to pass out. Right then I knew it would be a special weekend. These were only the first two of many incredible people I would meet over the next four days.

Once inside the Fairgrounds I checked in with security and media, then headed out to see the entire grounds. The first thing that enters one’s mind is, "My gosh, this place is HUGE! There is no way that it will fill up with the crowds I was told to expect." OK, so reporters/photographers don’t always have a keen sense of intuition! By Friday morning the campgrounds were packed with every possible kind of bike, car, truck, tent, camper and motorhome on this planet (and the fun, wacky people to match!).

I met Carl from Ah-gwah-ching who told me that the real essence of Moondance is in the campground. I promptly gave up my hotel room and parked in the site next to his. He was correct. Camping made me "one" with the rest of the Jammers. Carl, by the way, made breakfast on Sunday morning for any camper as long as they were hungry! Next came the "Bubble Lady" who greets every camper with angel wings and a shower of real bubbles – all day long, every day – from the top of her van. She instructed me to come by every morning for coffee with her friends. I did. Friday morning, by simply changing cloths on top of the van and having her magic bubble wand waved above my head, I became a member of the exclusive (and way cool!) "Blue Dog Bounty" tie-dye club. I wore the custom made Blue Dog tie-dyed shirt all day Friday and was proud of it!

How about the very first stop that every Jammer made on their way out of the concert? No, not the port-a-johns! The "Pit Stop" bar and camper with the world famous mannequin bartender who wore a new outfit every day and managed to finish up Moondance with the world’s greatest collection of tattoos.

Oh yes! There was music too! Twelve hours of music every day from regional bands to national headline groups. The big names like .38 Special, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Eddie Money, REO Speedwagon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Mickey Thomas and Starship, ELO, Hank Williams, Jr. and Cheap Trick always revs up the crowd. The special treat was catching the regional acts – several of which were good enough to tour nationally! The "JumboTron" was a mega bonus for those fans far back in the crowd or for those who were doing their part to support the Bernatello’s and Jack Daniel’s concessions during the show!

Granted, Thursday did boarder on "torrential" for most of the day – but we all figured out ways to have fun. There were truck mud runs, mud wrestling, mud castles and downhill mud surfing. The mud only lasted for a while – Wednesday, Friday afternoon and every single second of Saturday was an awesome party and show.

All in all my impression as a "first timer" was I got to be part of a group of people who showed incredible kindness and hospitality while in the midst of a rock show that would stand up to any in Las Vegas or LA or New York. Moondance Jam is definitely a "must see – must do" for anyone who can be in Minnesota during the summer. Oh and when you do come . . . make sure you bring a "first timer" along – they will come back forever.

Please remember to thank the security personnel! They kept this gig safe and let you party at the same time. Special thanks to Deb Olson, Katie Magozzi, Paul Nye and especially Mike Gardner for dealing with all the headaches backstage and the press. Finally, Bill and Kathy Bieloh, what can we say? Please, please, know how much we appreciate what you do to put this all together. Keep smiling, keep Rockin’ and thank you so much!

A "first timer" and now loyal fan, Scott Sutton