photo: Mark Heffinger
Marchers trekking across the country from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., on the Great March for Climate Action reached the wind- and solar-powered barn built by Bold Nebraska in the path of the Keystone XL pipeline.
by: Nicholas Bergin
Music legends Neil Young and Willie Nelson will perform a benefit concert Saturday, Sept. 27 on a farm near Neligh that is on the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and also crosses the historic Ponca Tribe Trail of Tears.
It’s the first time the two have performed together in Nebraska since Sept. 19, 1987, when fans packed Memorial Stadium for Farm Aid III, the biggest concert in state history. That show, which also included performances by artists like John Mellencamp, Kris Kristofferson and John Denver, drew 29,000 people and raised about $1.6 million.
Organizers hope the duo will bring a little of that magic with them to what is being called the “Harvest the Hope” concert. Proceeds from the Neligh event will go to Bold Nebraska and the Cowboy Indian Alliance to help pay for the ongoing fight against the Keystone XL pipeline, Bold Nebraska said in a news release.
The daytime, outdoor concert will be in a field on a farm owned by the Tanderup family, part of a collective of Nebraska landowners refusing to sign an easement with TransCanada for the pipeline that would carry oil from the tar sands of Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Landowners Art and Helen Tanderup have been active in protests against the pipeline, including attending rallies, spelling out an anti-pipeline message using soybeans and planting sacred Ponca Indian corn to be harvested this fall. They plan to be in the courtroom when the Nebraska Supreme Court hears oral arguments on a challenge to the state’s major pipeline siting law on Sept. 5.
Art Tanderup said in an interview Monday he fears the pipeline will eventually rupture or leak oil and chemical diluents that would leech into the Ogallala Aquifer, a source of irrigation and drinking water that underlies eight states including most of Nebraska.
The 62-year-old retired school teacher said he also is rankled that Nebraska’s governor would give a foreign company the power of eminent domain.
“This company insists on running this very dangerous substance through the heartland of Nebraska, so they can get it to Texas, so they can export it to other countries,” Tanderup said.
The proposed $5.4 billion pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City on the Nebraska-Kansas border. There, it would meet up with an existing pipeline network. Opponents say its construction will hasten development of Canada’s tar sands and worsen climate change.
The northern portion of the pipeline, which needs a presidential permit to cross the U.S. border with Canada, has been under review for more than five years. The U.S. State Department in April put an indefinite hold on the process of determining whether the pipeline is in the nation’s interest until a lawsuit over the project’s path through Nebraska is resolved.
This will be the first concert on the farm that’s been in Tanderup’s wife’s family for about 100 years, and the first time he will see either Nelson or Young perform live.
“It’s absolutely awesome,” he said.
Tanderup met Young, 68, in April at the Reject and Protect protest in Washington, D.C. He said he showed Young around the camp protesters set up on the National Mall. They later rode together on a train to New York City and talked about vinyl records, family, the pipeline and the beauty of Nebraska.
It was then the seeds for the concert were first planted. Tanderup said many people helped bring it to fruition, including artist John Quigley.
Tickets will go on sale Wednesday at BoldNebraska.org. The concert is being produced locally by 1% Productions in partnership with Bold Nebraska.
Both Young and Nelson are known for their activism. They founded Farm Aid, along with Mellencamp, and continue to headline the annual fundraiser. Young has been an outspoken critic of development of tar sands in his native Canada and toured to support Indian nations fighting against it there.
Nelson graces the cover of the latest Rolling Stone magazine, and at 81 years old he still tours nearly constantly. His most recent album, “Band of Brothers,” released in June, topped Billboard’s Top Country Albums.
The concert also will feature performances by Native American hip-hop artist Frank Waln, of the Rosebud Sioux tribe, and the Stopping the Pipeline Rocks All-Stars, a collection of local Nebraska artists.