What does a sleepy little town in Minnesota and rock and roll have in common? What does a chainsaw wielding front man and lead singer capable of swooning every female patron with a simple smile have with rock and roll have in common? What other questions can I ask that compare stuff? Well...
The sleepy little town in Minnesota is called Royalton actually. Royalton is home to 1242 citizens but for three days a year the town grows quite nicely when "Halfway Jam" takes up a farm field to bring hard rock to throngs of fans from all over the Midwest. Halfway Jam, celebrating its 11th edition of its homage to rock with a lineup that is really intriguing.
Halfway has the distinction of being a pretty nice festival that is still growing while some of its contemporaries are beginning to lose ground somewhat. I take in several festivals a year and it is possible for me to tell you that of those I anticipate the lineup that awaits my travel to Royalton. In talking with the concert-goers at Halfway there seems to be a special connection to the venue and to the bands that are often from the so-called "era of hair metal." That era was chock full of bands that still have staying power and are large draws regardless of the setting. This year the acts selected to perform is really a who's who of ballads, of dirty, edgy stalwarts with the ability to make the ladies swoon, of female rockers and all of these acts will take their places on the two stages that reside in the middle of the grounds.
Thursday sees an interesting dynamic of power bands and some returning veterans of the festival with a nice mix of tributes as well. The band "Draw the Line" is more than just an Aerosmith tribute band, it is the ONLY officially endorsed tribute band by the actual members of Aerosmith. Steven Tyler says of the band "They ARE the best" and one can assume if said it then it probably is so. On the main stage "Honeymoon Suite" ("New Girl Now" and "Feel it Again"), and the band known for the single "Seventeen" Winger will headline the night. The front man for "Winger", Kip Winger is known as that heart melting front man that every woman loved and it showed with the success of not only "Seventeen" but "Headed for a Heartbreak" and "Miles Away."
Friday sees the band "Rock Godz" take the stage with its own tribute to the very music that is highlighted at the festival, and has had several actual artists perform at Halfway, the band is a crowd favorite. While the "era of hair" was known for its "stud" male performers, male (and female) fans were drawn to female acts such as "Vixen" who had the hits "Edge of a Broken Heart" and "Cryin'" will take their place on the main stage as well. One of the biggest names in rock during the late '80's - early '90's was Sebastian Bach, the former lead singer of the band "Skid Row" is the prototypical lead vocalist of that era. With good looks, a killer voice and the smile that melts hearts, Bach is a legend.
Saturday, the final day of the three, sees the return of the Led Zeppelin tribute band aptly named "Blimp." The band features an experience that will remind you of the iconic band and will leave you not only entertained but also wanting to hear more. The band "Firehouse" and its hits including "Love of a Lifetime," "Don't Treat Me Bad," and "When I Look Into Your Eyes" will be on the main stage that night giving the fans a look back into their hearts and minds while lurking in the shadows is one of the craziest bands ever seen.
The festival will close that Saturday evening but only after Jesse James Dupree and his band "Jackyl" say so. Dupree, who is known for his music and hit television show, never leaves a fan disappointed and always makes you shake your head while sporting a Muppet worthy smile. I've seen this band numerous times and at no point do I assume I have seen the same set twice. With chainsaws tearing up stools, that wit, charm and charisma that only a man of this character can, Jackyl makes it worth every minute.
Included in this little primer is just a smattering of the acts that lie before the attendees of Halfway Jam while at the same time you can rest assured that you will find many acts that will make you a fan immediately. There is so much to look forward to when you attend Halfway Jam, there is much more that just music. This year will mark year number four for my attendance and I know that first and foremost is that every patron will be treated as a family member. I know that I can ask anyone working at the festival a question and they will get me an answer. The grounds are great, their campground is big and spacious and the parking area ensures that following the festival patrons will be able to exit quickly.
Take the time to attend this years iteration of Halfway Jam. Look at your calendar and fit in the time to attend (July 24 - 26, 2014) its well worth it! Do you want to get tickets but don't know where to buy them (they can be purchased HERE). Take the time and get to this festival, whether it be this year or next, disappointed you will not be!