Farm Aid 2005
This year's Farm Aid was another successful mix of awareness building, fund raising and good live music. Seems like that's all we've covered recently?
Anyways, here's the setlist from Tom over on Sugar Mountain:
Walking To New Orleans
When God Made Me
This Old Guitar
One Of These Days
Early reviews indicate that Neil was much more into the music this year than in year's past when he sometimes phoned it in. Again, maybe all these benefits this year has him fired up?
From an email to Thrasher's Wheat from Steve B. in Wisconsin:
"Neil was very much the most involved emotionally artist of the day. He also had the best sound mix of the day.
He had along the same musicians that he used at the Ryman in August. He started with a ragged but righteous on "Walkin' to New Orleans". Then went straight into the most urgent and emotional version of "Southern Man" imaginable. Neil played soulfully and unusually melodically, trading licks with Spooner Oldham on organ in an especially hot exchange. It seemed the Fisk University singers picked up on the entire audience singing along, and drew even more power for their incredible backing vocals. These two songs together made an extremely powerful and timely statement by Mr. Young. Neil appeared physically drained after the song, but he continued on as though he had everything to give and nothing to lose.
He moved to the piano for "When God Made Me". Another great performance of this great song. He then moved slowly and carefully back to center stage to play "Old Man". Afterwards, it sounded like he had piped into the PA someone (himself?) shouting "Neil, you ARE an Old Man", and he hollered back "But I feel young". It was great. He next talked about acquiring Hank Williams' guitar and played "This Old Guitar". He was joined for the rest of his set by Willie Nelson on Old Man, and by Emmylou Harris beginning with This Old Guitar. (Willie might have arrived for Southern Man, I can't recall clearly.) Both were very good. Next, he introduced everyone on stage, but I think he left out Ben Keith.
He finished up with "One Of These Days" It seemed as though he was saying goodbye, but also reminding people that the song had a message for them as well."
Or maybe Neil was fired up by reading the Chicago Tribune? Carolyn Mugar, executive director of Farm Aid said that the Chicago Tribune reporter had made a mistake and reversed the number for how much of the dollar goes to help the family farmer. In actuality, 80 cents of every dollar goes towards Farm Aid’s work. Music critic Greg Kot writes:
"Even before the 11 hours of music began Sunday at Farm Aid's 20th anniversary concert, Neil Young was fighting mad.
He delivered one of the more passionate performances the annual charity show has ever seen without lifting a guitar. Instead, at a media conference packed with farm advocates preceding the onstage revelry at the Tweeter Center in Tinley Park, Young took this newspaper to task for a story printed in its Saturday edition that questioned the charity's distribution of funds.
The Tribune report "hurt our reputation" by distorting the charity's mission, Young said. "We are not purely raising money for farmers. That's a small part of what we do." He explained that Farm Aid funds myriad activities, from political lobby groups to suicide prevention, that aid farmers.
"The people at the Chicago Tribune should be held responsible for this piece of crap," Young stormed, then ripped a copy of the newspaper in half and tossed it aside to a room full of cheers.
The controversy clouded what was otherwise a sunlit celebration for an organization that has raised $27 million for family farms since its first concert in 1985."
And Editor & Publisher jumped in on the feeding frenzy with this headline - "Mockin' in the Free World: Neil Young Stomping Mad at 'Chicago Tribune'":
"According to the Chicago Tribune report, Farm Aid contributed only 28% of its revenues to farmers last year. The rest of that money, according to the report, went to defray concert expenses.
Today, the Sun-Times ran a news article that gave the paper a chance to tweak the rival Tribune for getting “stomped,” and offer more of Young's side of the story.
"We are not purely raising money to give to farmers," Young said. "That's only a small part of what we do. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year to the American farmer. That's what we do. That costs a little bit of money." If those expenditures were included in the total, it would show that the charity spent 76% of its budget on its mission of helping farmers, Farm Aid officials said.
That's well above standards set by the Better Business Bureau and other charity watchdog groups, Glenda Yoder, associate director at Farm Aid, said.
An article by the Tribune's music writer, Greg Kot, also allowed Young to vent. Kot also quoted another Farm Aid stalwart, Willie Nelson, wryly revealing, "We're not happy until our critics are unhappy."
Back to the music. Another favorite - Wilco - played a mighty fine set.