Archive for the ‘Farm Aid’ Category

Farm Aid: Beyond the Music

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

www.ecowatch.com

Farm Aid’s annual concert, an all-day music and food festival, will take place on Sept. 16 in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania.

Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Jack Johnson and Sheryl Crow will be headlining, among many other prominent musicians. Proceeds from the concert will benefit small family farms by providing farmers with resources and support.

Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp started Farm Aid as a benefit concert in 1985 to “raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on the land.” Since its inception in 1985, Farm Aid has flourished into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. In 2001, Dave Matthews joined the Farm Aid board of directors.Farm Aid has raised more than $50 million to support the family farm system in America. In addition to raising money, Farm Aid provides a hotline for farm families in crisis, 1-800-FARM-AID, and has created an online platform called the Farmer Resource Network to help farmers find important farming resources. The nonprofit has granted more than $22 million to 300 organizations across the nation, part of an effort to enhance local and regional food systems.
For more information:  www.farmaid.org

Willie Nelson, “Darkness on the Face of the Earth”

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Enter to Win VIP tickets to Farm Aid 2017 (September 16, 2017)

Monday, August 21st, 2017

www.FoodTank.com

Farm Aid’s annual concert, an all-day music and food festival, will take place on September 16 in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Jack Johnson, and Sheryl Crow will be headlining, among many other prominent musicians. Proceeds from the concert will benefit small family farms by providing farmers with resources and support.

Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp started Farm Aid as a benefit concert in 1985 to “raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on the land.” Since its inception in 1985, Farm Aid has flourished into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. In 2001, Dave Matthews joined the Farm Aid Board of Directors.

Farm Aid has raised more than US$50 million to support the family farm system in America. In addition to raising money, Farm Aid provides a hotline for farm families in crisis, 1-800-FARM-AID, and has created an online platform called the Farmer Resource Network to help farmers find important farming resources. The nonprofit has granted more than US$22 million to 300 organizations across the nation, part of an effort to enhance local and regional food systems.

At this year’s Farm Aid concert, food will be provided by Farm Aid’s HOMEGROWN Concessions, a “first-of-its-kind model for featuring family farm-identified, local and organic foods at major concert events.” Concertgoers will be able to enjoy fresh food that was locally and sustainably produced by small farmers, such as smoked salmon wraps, fresh smoothies, and portobello mushroom burgers. Tickets for the 2017 Farm Aid concert are currently sold out, but there is still time to win a few VIP tickets. Click here to enter to win.

An American Event: Farm Aid (September 22, 1985)

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Farm Aid 2017

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Farm Aid 2017. Photo by: Farm Aid / Twitter

Another stellar lineup of artists will perform at Farm Aid 2017 on September 16 in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. Learn more about the lineup for this fundraising concert to benefit family farmers in the United States here:   https://farmaid.org/lineup 


Neil Young


John Mellencamp


Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds


Jack White

Jamey Johnson


Sheryl Crow

Blackberry Smoke


Avett Brothers


Insects vs Robots


Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real

Valerie June

How Farm Aid Helps Family Farmers Thrive

Friday, August 18th, 2017

www.FarmAid.org

  1. In this video, farmers, partners, volunteers and supporters talk about Farm Aid’s work to keep family farmers on the land and thriving.

    “Farm Aid has always been there with emergency assistance for folks that need it. But at the same time, they’re looking down the road and trying to figure out long-term solutions. So it’s important, you can’t just deal crisis to crisis, you have to deal with the problems that creates the crisis. And Farm Aid helps do that.” –– David Senter, Former Farmer, President of American Agriculture Movement

    Farm Aid is working to achieve our mission to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host the annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. With the support of the artists (nearly 400 to date!) who contribute their performances each year, Farm Aid has raised more than $50 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.

    With music as our inspiration and farmers as our heroes, Farm Aid envisions a transformed America in which family farmers and eaters are partners in a thriving farm and food system that benefits all.

    WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

Farm Aid Presents: “Homeplace Under Fire”

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

www.modernfarmer.com
by: Andrew Amelinckx

Homeplace Under Fire:  The story of the grassroots work of American farm advocates and their 30 year fight to keep family farmers on the land.

About the Film

The Farm Crisis of the 1980s drove hundreds of thousands of family farmers into foreclosure. Yet, out of that crisis arose a legion of farm advocates who refused to stand idly by and watch their way of life be destroyed.

Ordinary Americans taught themselves extraordinary skills. As fellow farmers, farm wives, and rural leaders, they studied laws and regulations, started hotlines, answered farmers’ calls from their kitchen tables, counseled their neighbors, and went toe-to-toe with lenders – giving their all to keep their neighbors on the land.

Homeplace Under Fire celebrates these advocates and their remarkable work. Thousands of farmers are alive and on their land today because of them. As Willie Nelson has said, these advocates are the best of America.

Homeplace Under Fire was directed by Charles D. Thompson, Jr. and produced by Farm Aid in cooperation with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

“There is a Peaceful Solution”, Willie Nelson & Family

Monday, August 14th, 2017

This day in Willie Nelson history: Farm Aid XXVI (Kansas City, MO) (August 13, 2011)

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

by SharonOnTheMove

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I took this one; such a sweet look

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I took this photo

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photo: Mary Francis Andrews

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photo: Mary Francis Andrews

Farm Aid 2017 Line-Up

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Another stellar lineup of artists will perform at Farm Aid 2017 on September 16 in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. Learn more about the lineup for this fundraising concert to benefit family farmers in the United States here:   https://farmaid.org/lineup 


Neil Young


John Mellencamp


Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds


Jack White

Jamey Johnson


Sheryl Crow

Blackberry Smoke


Avett Brothers


Insects vs Robots


Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real

Valerie June

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

farmaid3

www.FarmAid.org

 

Farm Aid 2017

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Farm Aid 2017. Photo by: Farm Aid / Twitter

www.farmaid.org

Support Family Farmers, support Farm Aid

Friday, July 28th, 2017

www.FarmAid.org

Willie Nelson for Wrangler Jeans

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Thanks, Phil Weisman, for sharing this cool ad.

The first Farm Aid Concert (September 22, 1985)

Monday, July 24th, 2017

“Just got home from Farm Aid 2011…….  .it was a little more together than the first one”
— Budrock “The Illuminator” Prewitt, Lighting Director for Willie Nelson & Family.

What it took to put on the first Farm Aid fundraising concert
by:  Ebet Roberts

Buddy ‘Budrock’ Prewitt has been Willie Nelson’s lighting designer and director since 1977.  He faced an amorphous situation at Farm Aid, in terms of placing and aiming lights in an era before moving head fixtures. “I had no idea where anyone would be standing. And how do you create a lighting design if you don’t know what you’re lighting?” he says. The solution was to wash the stage with white HMI PAR cans hung from the lighting tower above the FOH position.

While Prewitt was hanging lights in the pouring rain in the days before the concert, he was presented with another issue: the CMT video truck said the stage was too dark. The network then brought every piece of lighting they had on their trucks and added it to Prewitt’s matrix, which terminated at the light-control position next to the FOH outpost beneath the lighting towers. “It was so bright on that stage that it didn’t matter what the sun did,” says Prewitt.

The lights were controlled by a UK-made Avolites QM500 console, and despite having only the barest outlines of how the show was going to progress, Prewitt nonetheless painstakingly programmed for washes and transition lighting. When he got to the lighting booth, he saw that the console had been installed at a height that would require him to stand, which was a prospect that he, as the sole lighting director for what would be a 14-hour concert, understandably viewed dimly. He asked the lighting assistant to have the console lowered, and in the process the hapless L2 unplugged the console, causing it to dump memory. “I made him stay up there for the whole show for losing all of my cues,” Prewitt says. But it was a great vantage point from which to watch. “My favourite moment was when Foreigner brought up an entire black gospel chorus to sing behind them. It was just amazing! It all came together at that moment.”</blockquote>
<a href=”http://www.PerformingMusician.com”>www.PerformingMusician.com</a>
by Dan Daley
September 2009

The early 1980s saw an ominous trend building in the USA: massive industrialised farms were converging with the early effects of Reaganomics to create an economic maelstrom for the American family farm. Imagine what’s happening now, only with livestock: foreclosures, impossible credit and bank failures were devastating the Midwest landscape. The bucolic pastures that comprised the American agricultural idyll were suddenly the stuff of headlines and Hollywood, with films like Country (1984) and The River (1984) portraying the American farmer as an endangered species.

At the same time, the roots of what would become known as Americana music were just taking hold. Three of its pioneering practitioners — John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Willie Nelson — joined forces to try to counter the ongoing economic devastation and in 1985 launched Farm Aid, an artist-driven organic charity response from within the music industry.

On 22nd September 1985, the first Farm Aid concert took place in Champaign, Illinois, a sleepy and quintessentially American farming community two hours’ drive south of Chicago. The site was the 75,000-seat football stadium of the University of Illinois, which formed the core of the estimated 80,000 people who came to the one-day event. Those who made it were treated to performances from a genre-bending cast including Mellencamp, Nelson and Young, as well as Bon Jovi, Johnny Cash, the Charlie Daniels Band, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Foreigner, Merle Haggard, Don Henley, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Loretta Lynn, Tom Petty, Lou Reed and Eddie Van Halen. In all, over 60 artists performed.

<a title=”farmaid_5 by Lindalee99, on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/45431112@N00/6058049968/”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6190/6058049968_4963eb19ce.jpg” alt=”farmaid_5″ width=”500″ height=”331″ /></a>
by: Robert Ebert

Farm Aid would go on to become one of live music’s most enduring franchises — the 22nd Farm Aid concert took place in 2008 in the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium. Since that first show, the organisation has raised more than US$30 million in relief for distressed family farms and have actually influenced US legislation, resulting in the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987, which is intended to help keep family farms out of foreclosure.
Dodgy logistics

However, back on that cool morning in September of 1985, no one could have known all that. Ron Stern, a principal at Jam Productions in Chicago, was well known as the ‘fixer’ for large live music events. When he arrived in Champaign about two weeks before the event, he saw a disaster waiting to happen. “There was only 100-amp [mains] service at the stadium; not nearly enough to power a whole stage show and a dressing room/backstage complex,” he recalls. Stern called on a wizard electrician he knew, who devised a complicated scheme involving $50,000 worth of generators. But at the same time, Stern continued negotiating with the local grid provider, Chicago Edison, and before the generator farm had to be pulled together he convinced the grid provider to run a high-voltage line and step-down transformer to the site. The cost? $15,000 and letting the four-man Edison crew watch the show for free. “It was a charity event and there was some urgency about the cause, so that gave us some leverage,” he says.

Stern put together a team of veterans of large-scale events, including Rolling Stones production manager Michael Ahearn and Morris Lyda, who managed tours for Genesis and the Blues Brothers. ShowCo, who were at the time the largest SR provider in the US and who also counted Willie Nelson as a client, were brought in for sound. They would need that experience, as the number and stature of artists on the bill grew rapidly. They set up a headquarters in a nearby Ramada Inn motel: Stern with his Mac 512 computer and Ahearn with a Tandy model from Radio Shack. “The Tandy proved to be better at processing the information, so we used that one,” Stern says, and they started trying to fit 60-plus acts into less than 24 hours, with pressure already building from artists’ managers about who would go on when and for how long.
The first solution was to give everyone three songs, regardless of their standing in the star pecking order or the size of their stage plot. But that still left a logistical nightmare of moving the gear of so many artists around and still staying on schedule. So the producers opted for a turntable stage, manufactured by United Product Services in Chicago and manually operated, and further decided to load two or three acts per half of the disk — a mix of bands and solo performers — so that one side would be setting up while those on the other half performed. Robin Magruder, a ShowCo account executive, adds that there was also a ‘C’ stage, located on the main stage’s apron and used for acoustic ‘filler’ acts. “There was barely a moment when there wasn’t any music going,” he recalls.

Buddy ‘Budrock’ Prewitt has been Willie Nelson’s lighting designer and director since 1977.  He faced an amorphous situation at Farm Aid, in terms of placing and aiming lights in an era before moving head fixtures. “I had no idea where anyone would be standing. And how do you create a lighting design if you don’t know what you’re lighting?” he says. The solution was to wash the stage with white HMI PAR cans hung from the lighting tower above the FOH position.

While Prewitt was hanging lights in the pouring rain in the days before the concert, he was presented with another issue: the CMT video truck said the stage was too dark. The network then brought every piece of lighting they had on their trucks and added it to Prewitt’s matrix, which terminated at the light-control position next to the FOH outpost beneath the lighting towers. “It was so bright on that stage that it didn’t matter what the sun did,” says Prewitt.

The lights were controlled by a UK-made Avolites QM500 console, and despite having only the barest outlines of how the show was going to progress, Prewitt nonetheless painstakingly programmed for washes and transition lighting. When he got to the lighting booth, he saw that the console had been installed at a height that would require him to stand, which was a prospect that he, as the sole lighting director for what would be a 14-hour concert, understandably viewed dimly. He asked the lighting assistant to have the console lowered, and in the process the hapless L2 unplugged the console, causing it to dump memory. “I made him stay up there for the whole show for losing all of my cues,” Prewitt says. But it was a great vantage point from which to watch. “My favourite moment was when Foreigner brought up an entire black gospel chorus to sing behind them. It was just amazing! It all came together at that moment.”

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PA providers ShowCo were one of the few touring sound companies of the day who could handle a show of this size (one of the others was Clair Brothers, who would merge with ShowCo in 2000). The system was based around ShowCo’s AX Series system, which comprised three-tiered sets of cabinets (it was fondly known as ‘the refrigerator’ due to its bulk and 500lb-plus weight). These consisted of one enclosure for mid-highs loaded with JBL four-inch-diaphragm compression drivers on JBL 2380 Series, flat-front, bi-radial horns; four horn-loaded, 12-inch JBL E120 speakers and JBL 2402 ‘bullet’ tweeters; and a bass cabinet (in the days before proper subwoofers) fitted with three JBL 2245 18-inch speakers. Crossovers used were ShowCo 1015 and 1016 models. The muscular AX was designed, according to a couple of old ShowCo hands, to win the company more heavy metal tours.

These were stacked stage right and left using chain motors and forklifts, reaching a combined height of 10m or so. M.L. Procise, a ShowCo production supervisor at the show and today Clair Brothers’ Vice President of touring, estimated that there were about 80 cabinets in all, stacked six high and seven wide. The count on the amplifiers is lost to history, but they were 1600W Crown PSA-2 amplifiers for the bass and mids, and Macro-Tech 1200s for the high-range speakers. Monitors, mixed by ShowCo staffers Johnny Roberts and Paul Sontheimer, were ShowCo BFM wedges, along with several ShowCo SS sidefill cabinets, which were flown from the stage’s truss.
The front-of-house mixer line was comprised of three Harrison HM-5 desks. Two were primary mixers, with one being primed to go, as the band before was being mixed by the other. They were flanking a centre HM-5 desk, which was used for announcements, program music, and as a catch bin for extra channels for either of the other two consoles as needed. A Harrison SM-5 desk was sited on stage for monitor mixing. Several acts, however, insisted on bringing their own front-of-house consoles, including Billy Joel, which created a bit of a logjam at the front-of-house position, a shed located about 45m in front of the stage. In racks below the desks were a handful of the cutting-edge outboard processors of the time: the Lexicon 224L stereo reverb, the AMS RMS 16 stereo reverb, the Yamaha SPX90 multi-effects unit, and the Yamaha REV5 and REV7 digital reverbs. Other gear included Dbx 900 limiters, Lexicon Primetime 300 reverbs, Eventide Harmonisers, and the Roland SDE-3000 digital delay.
One of those seated at the Harrison desks was Bruce Jones. He had just come off the Aerosmith Back In The Saddle reunion tour, which was supposed to be his last as a ShowCo staff mixer. “I was ready to go independent and they said, ‘Can you do one last show for us, just a one-day show?’” he recalls. “Then I get out there and it was like, yeah, one day, 50 bands. I never thought it would be this big.”

The rushed nature of the affair created its own working protocols for FOH: the ShowCo mixer would literally split the desk with the artists’ mixers, as Jones did with Don Henley, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty and others. “On Don Henley, for instance, I would take the bass, drums and other rhythm section parts, while his front-of-house mixer, Buford Jones, handled the vocals and guitar solos, which he knew by heart,” Jones remembers. “Halfway through, I asked him if he was OK. I was going to move over and help them set up for the next band, but he said, ‘No! Stay here and keep mixing!’ Everyone needed all the help they could get.”

It was the era before digital consoles with recall, but the sound crew did implement one innovation: they ran a phone line from the stage area to the front-of-house shed with fax machines on either end. “We were faxing the inputs and the stage plots for each act as they were being set up,” says M.L. Procise. “No one had ever done it before, but we had so much information for so many acts that we needed some way to efficiently get that information back and forth. And it worked.” The fax machines may have been optical, but the cabling wasn’t. Two 150ft microphone snakes and a utility 12-pair snake were the lifelines between FOH and the stage.

The CMT network would televise the event live, with their OB van parked outside the stadium and a split from FOH going to it. Ron Stern remembers that this posed its own dangers. “This was the first show that Sammy Hagar would play with Van Halen,” he says. “Sammy could not string two sentences together without using the word ‘f**k’, including on stage, and this was live television from the Midwest. During soundcheck, the television producer came to me and [Van Halen’s] manager and asked if we could tell Sammy to tone it down. We both just laughed. I’m not sure what they showed during Van Halen’s performance, but I know they didn’t put them on the air.”
Let there be light

Mike Wanchic has been John Mellencamp’s guitarist and bandleader since 1976, and like his famous colleague, is a dyed-in-the-wool Midwesterner. He was apprehensive enough when he saw the scope of the show and the sheer number of acts. But as he looked at the line-ups, he shook his head. “Van Halen and Dottie West, on the same bill,” he marvels. “And it was the first time I had ever even heard of Bon Jovi. The diversity was incredible!”

Wanchic’s stage setup reflects the simplicity of an earlier era. His three Stratocasters (1957, ‘61 and ‘65) go into a pair of Mesa Boogie MkIII heads and two Mesa Boogie 4 x 12 cabinets loaded with EV M100 speakers. “I’m responsible for the clean-sounding guitar in the band, and that’s the way to get it: straight in,” he says. At that time — and pretty much to this day — he did not use stomp boxes. The Strats all shared a unique modification. James Demeter, a pioneering boutique amplifier designer, added a dummy fourth pickup to the Strats, star-grounding the other three pickups to it and completely eliminating the hum that is the bane of single-coil pickups. “In certain cities and clubs, I would have a heck of a time finding the right direction to face to cut down the hum,” recalls Wanchic, “and you knew there was going to be a massive RF factor at a show like this.” He had the mod done shortly before the event and there was no hum to be heard. The mod was also applied to the clones of his Stratocasters, which Wanchic had made by the Fender Custom Shop.

Mellencamp’s band ended up becoming the house band for several artists, including Bonnie Raitt and John Fogerty, and this show marked the comeback for the former Creedence Clearwater Revival front man, whose Centerfield LP was released the same year. One of the songs on it, ‘Zanz Kant Danz’, was a pointed musical missile aimed at Saul Zaentz, the Fantasy Records chief who Fogerty believed had withheld royalties due him. The song, about a pig that can’t dance but is adept at thievery, drew a litigious response from Zaentz, forcing Fogerty to change the name to ‘Vanz’. But he got his revenge at Farm Aid. “There was a woman with him, from his [new] record label I think,” Wanchic remembers, “and when he did that song, she came out on stage dressed in a pink pig costume and danced. I think John got his point across that day.”
Several of the artists, musicians and crew members from that first Farm Aid have gone on to become regulars at the annual event. The show now is state-of-the-art when it comes to sound and lights, not to mention video. Its veterans look back at that first show like some kind of technical Dunkirk in reverse, getting troops and equipment onto the shore under challenging conditions, never missing a beat. “It changed the nature of the concert business because it made people realise that you could do a benefit on that kind of scale,” says Ron Stern. “You could get artists and managers to cooperate if it was done for the right reasons.”

But the first Farm Aid also created another type of legacy, one that came along at a good time when the music business was careening towards the excesses that would symbolise the era of the hair bands. “We were just naive enough to believe we could get the federal government to change its farm policies,” says Wanchic.
Bruce Jones adds, “I don’t think anyone thought it would be more than just that show at that time, but I think once people realised what had been accomplished, you could see that Farm Aid would be an institution, not just a concert.” 0

In an age before widespread corporate sponsorships, some contributions to the first Farm Aid were little known and practical in nature, but nonetheless greatly appreciated. Don Tyson, America’s biggest chicken processing tycoon, is both a noted philanthropist and a friend of Willie Nelson (there’s a punch line in there somewhere.) Tyson not only helped underwrite Farm Aid’s costs but also sent in trailer-loads of chicken nuggets for staff and crew. “We ate nuggets for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner!” recalls stage manager M.L. Procise. “Lots and lots of chicken.”