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photo: P. Natkin
by Austin Scaggs
On the morning of Farm Aid’s 25th anniversary concert in Milwaukee, as rain pelted his tour bus, Willie Nelson reminisced about how it began. “I remember hearing Bob Dylan say at Live Aid, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if some of this money stayed here for the farmers?’” said Nelson, holding court at the dining table, with a pack of Zig-Zags and a lighter in his left hand. “I said, ‘The man’s right! We should take care of our own!”
Eleven hours and 16 acts later (including fellow Farm Aid board members Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews, as well as Jeff Tweedy, Nora Jones, Band of Horses and Kenny Chesney, Nelson closed the 25th Farm Aid with a surprise guest: Steven Tyler, who injected life into the marathon concert and inspired the loudest roar of the day from the 35,000. The pair dueted on the Tyler-penned country ballad, “One Time Too Many” and Aerosmith’s “Once is Enough” as their Farm Aid co-stars watched from the wings. “Just to sit on the side of the stage and watch Willie is the coolest,” said Matthews. “He’s my hero.”
With rain falling and temperatures in the 40s, a decision was made early to close Miller Park’s retractable roof. “It’s like playing in a giant plastic ball,” Matthews remarked, but Young used the staium’s booming acoustics to his advantage, creating swirls of feedback during his solo electric set on classics like “Down by the River,” “Ohio” and “Long May You Run.”
“Factory farms are the reason we have food alerts,” Young told the crowd. “They are the reason why we have dying people and disease.” Young — joined by Matthews, Mellencamp and Nelson — closed his set with the 1970’s jam, “Homegrown,” a Farm Aid staple.
Matthews — in his 13th Farm Aid performance since 1995 — appeared with guitarist Tim Reynolds and hit on “All Along the Watchtower,” “Don’t Drink the Water” and cuts from his 2003 solo album, “Some Devil.
“There is a sincerity in this organization that is unlike a lot of charitable concerts,” Matthews said, hanging out in his tour bus. “Like Live Earth — that left a bad taste in my mouth. But with Farm Aid there’s an honesty and a real clear goal that is to raise awareness about the unforgivable way that the government treats the small farmers in America, where a majority of subsidies go to giant corporations and big agribusinesses.”
Nora Jones, alternating between guitar and piano, sauntered through “Come Away With Me,” Johnny Cash’s “Cry, Cry, Cry” and “How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart” (Hank Williams’ lyrics set to music by Jones). After celebrating her first Farm Aid in the dugout with a vodka cocktail, Jones re-emerged for the all-star finale of “Good Hearted Woman,” a song Nelson wrote with Waylon Jennings.
This year’s event raised more than $2 million, bringing Farm Aid’s 25-year total to $39 million. “I was seven when I watched the first Farm Aid on TV,” marveled Band of Horses singer Ben Bridwell backstage. “I’ve known about it longer than I’ve known my colors or how to do long division. You say yes to just be in these dude’s company, but the fact that we’re in this for the most noble of causes makes it so fucking cool.”
“As the family farmer goes, so goes America,” John Mellencamp said, before tearing through “Pink Houses,” “Save Some Time to Dream” and “Scarecrow,” which he also performed at the inaugural benefit, held in Champaign, Illionis in 1985.
Before his set, he puffed on American Spirits in his Airstream trailer outside the venue. Mellencamp reminisced about that first show, “Everybody in the fucking world was there,” he said. “And I remember, for 45 minutes after the show, I had to wait on the bus for Willie, who was out there signing autographs. When he finally got on the bus, I asked, ‘What the fuck took so long, Willie?’ And he goes, ‘Something you should think about. I’ve got to take care of the people who take care of us.’”
Jen Bronenkant took this great photo of Willie Nelson and Steven Tyler at the Farm Aid concert in Milwaukee, on October 2, 2010.
Mellencamp, who noted taht Farm Aid is the longest-running music charity in history, also had a request. “Willie deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. We’re all just Willie’s little helpers.”
I encourage you to purchase the November 2010 Rolling Stone.
photo: Terry Wyatt
by: Kris Rutledge
The Pilgrimage Music Festival had many people scratching their heads in its inaugural year. Not only was the Tennessee-based festival taking place in late-September, it was set to end at 7:30 p.m. both nights. The headliners didn’t follow any sort of musical pattern (except that their names all begin with the letter W), and the location was a place most people had never heard of. So how exactly did Pilgrimage Festival end up being one of the best festivals of 2015?
On its website the fest says it’s inspired by friendship, history, and the desire to create a meaningful experience. So it only makes sense that the lineup and festival grounds would reflect that. In terms of history and meaningful experiences, you can’t go wrong with Wilco, Weezer and Willie Nelson.
Willie Nelson played a smooth set heavy on hits and cover songs. Country’s greatest living legend always lives up to his name. This was my sixth time seeing Nelson and along with Neil Young he’s the most consistent classic act around, and as exciting of a performer today as he ever was.
Read ‘s complete review of the festival here:
“Farm Aid is so much more than the music” — learn about the National Center for Appropriate TechnologyMonday, September 28th, 2015
Dot Redfern, Norm Conrad, and Pat Keeney
photo: Alice Kaufmann
Thanks so much to Pat Keeney (Miss Tex), from Texas, and Dot Redfern, from Florida, for speaking with Norm Conrad, of the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and taking this video. And thanks to Alice, for taking the picture! Pat, Alice, Dot are a few of the kind folks and Farm Aid supporters who help tell the story of Farm Aid here on the blog. Thanks, friends.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.ncat.org
“While at Farm Aid 30 in Chicago,I talked with Norm Conrad who is with National Center for Appropriate Technology. The NCAT is a private nonprofit organization, founded in 1976, which manages a series of projects that promote self-reliance and sustainable lifestyles through wise use of appropriate technology. Its programs deal with sustainable and renewable energy, energy conservation, resource-efficient housing, sustainable community development, and sustainable agriculture.
Norm was at Farm Aid to educate the public on how factory farms pose an environmental risk to the ground water & ultimately us. The government approves of these factory farms but they are not checking the water for us. Since they are on private land there is no one to monitor or control what is being done to our water. Disgusting when you stop and think about it!
Farm Aid is so much more than just the music.”
Thanks to Mary Francis Andrews for sharing her photos from Farm Aid.
by: Tom Huddleston, Jr.
New York-based private equity firm Tuatara Capital this week announced its partnership with Nelson, the 81-year-old musician known for songs such as “Always On My Mind” and “On the Road Again,” as well as his well-documented marijuana habit. The partnership will see Tuatara lead a group of investors financing the development of a legal recreational marijuana brand featuring Nelson’s name.
The “premium cannabis lifestyle brand,” called “Willie’s Reserve,” will market pot bearing Nelson’s name and image to recreational marijuana users in states where it is legal, starting with the states that currently have legal recreational pot markets: Colorado and Washington. Local businesses in those states will grow, distribute, and sell Willie’s Reserve-branded marijuana based on the brand’s own specifications and “quality standards,” according to a joint press release from Tuatara and Nelson.
John performs a hits-laden set at the 30th anniversary Farm Aid concert at Northerly Island in Chicago, IL on September 19, 2015.
1. Lawless Times
2. Small Town
3. Stones In My Passway
4. Check It Out
6. Rain on the Scarecrow
7. Paper In Fire
8. Crumblin’ Down
9. Authority Song
10. Pink Houses
Farm Aid 30 was held in Chicago last night and featured performances from the likes of Willie Nelson, Imagine Dragons, John Mellencamp, Jack Johnson, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dave Matthews andTim Reynolds. Neil Young played his first set since July and was backed by Promise Of The Real. Young’s seven-song performance at the annual concert to raise awareness for the plight of family farms included a debut and the return of a Harvest classic that hadn’t been played since 1977.
Neil Young and Promise Of The Real started their set with three songs off their recently released The Monsanto Years LP – “Workin’ Man,” “A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop” and “Big Box.” The biggest surprise of the night came next when Young and his band dug into the Harvest track “Alabama.” Young had last performed the controversial song back in 1977, when he dedicated it to Lynyrd Skynyrd as part of a medley with “Sweet Home Alabama” shortly after Ronnie Van Zandt and other members of the Skynyrd died in a plane crash. In Neil’s 2012 book Waging Heavy Peace he discussed his thoughts on “Alabama” – “[the song] richly deserved the shot Lynyrd Skynyrd gave me with their great record. I don’t like my words when I listen to it today. They are accusatory and condescending, not fully thought out, too easy to misconstrue.”
Watch Neil Young & Promise Of The Real’s “Alabama”:
Neil Young & Promise Of The Real Farm Aid Setlist
Set: Workin’ Man, A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop, Big Box, Alabama, Western Hero, I Won’t Quit, Love And Only Love
Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp will be guests on CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Wednesday night. The show, which is in its second week, airs at 11:35 PM ET. Willie and John will be performing as well doing an interview to promote Farm Aid’s 30th Annivesary concert, which takes place this Saturday, September 19th in Chicago at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island.
More great photos taken by Mary Francis Andrews at Farm Aid, in Saratoga Springs, NY on September 21, 2013.