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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

34 Years of Farm Aid: Where Do We Go From Here?

Neil Young, John Mellencamp & Carolyn Mugar, Director, Farm Aid
Photos by John Kwit
(Click photo to enlarge)

Here is a special report from John Kwit on Farm Aid 2019: "34 Years of Farm Aid: Where Do We Go From Here?"

John, a long time CSNY fan, is the North American Reporter for

2019 Farm Aid Press Conference

34 Years of Farm Aid - Where Do We Go From Here?

If you like a good 12-hour rainstorm to go along with your music festival then Farm Aid 2019 at Alpine Valley Music Center in East Troy, Wisconsin, was just the ticket for you. Regardless of the deluge it appeared that most everyone was happy, laughing and having a grand old time – even those rain-soaked fans on the lawn.

Perhaps Neil Young’s pre-show press conference wisdom took root: Cows that are allowed to roam are happy cows. Those stuck in cages are not. The entire crowd roamed about during the festivities, sampling a wide variety of local dairy, meat and produce fare from Wisconsin’s family farmers.

Concert act highlights are subjective. For this attendee, Yola’s amazing voice, Tanya Tucker's comeback performance, Bonnie Raitt’s bluesy grit and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats unbridled energy were amazing to behold.


Tanya Tucker

Bonnie Raitt

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

And who couldn’t smile at the sight of a child -- Leon Leon Melgar (POTR's Tato’s son) -- strumming along on a guitar bigger than he was during Promise of the Real’s set?

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real + Special Guest on Air Guitar

Leon Melgar (POTR's Tato’s Son)

But on to Neil backed by Promise of the Real…he did not disappoint. I love to see things that don’t go exactly as planned and that occurred during his opening song Are You Ready for the Country?. As Neil pounded on the piano keys it appeared the band was having a hard time seeing his eyes for the cue to join in on the chorus. This made for some extended piano playing by Neil, false chorus attempts by the band or a quick rush by the band to find the nearest microphone. Wonderful stuff!

Neil Young + Promise of the Real

The other highlight for me was Neil’s performance of Throw Your Hatred Down from his underappreciated Pearl Jam-backed Mirrorball album. Many a die-hard fan might opine that he already covered that song in previous Farm Aid but the energy level created by Neil and the band on this night would be hard to repeat.

Neil Young + Promise of the Real

The best highlight of the day was the lack of partisan political rhetoric coming from the performers. It was amazing to see everyone attending, from performer to fan to vendor, setting aside their differences and getting along. That happened at Woodstock a mere 50 years ago, didn’t it?

John Mellencamp

We shouldn’t have to have 34 years of Farm Aid. The steep decline of family farms continues. The Farm Aid torch is being passed from Willie Nelson to his son Lukas and from John Mellencamp to his son Ian. From the 3 original founders Willie, Neil & John to Dave Matthews. We shouldn’t hope to see Lukas headlining the 68th Farm Aid in 2053.

Lukas Nelson w/ Margo Price

Dave Matthews w/ Tim Reynolds

What is the answer to preventing the extinction of the family farm? According to Neil, Americans need to demand that their Congressional Representatives pass legislation to hold all farmers accountable for practicing sustainable agriculture so the soil that feeds a nation doesn’t blow away in the wind. At the very least, he asked everyone who liked what they saw on this rain-soaked day to never again pass by a farmers market without stopping in and making a purchase to show support. In summary, buy real food from real people. If we do those things, Neil continued, perhaps we can say that we were in attendance at the event where the loss of the family farm was halted or reversed.

Willie Nelson, Margo Price & her baby

Many thanks to The FarmAidians Paul & Renee and Thrasher & Thrashette for making this report possible!

John Kwit
North American Reporter,
Xtra Special EARTH Reporter,

The FarmAidians & The Magic Bus
(Click photo to enlarge)

FarmAidians Renee & Paul


Thanks so much for the report John! (Incidentally, you've been promoted to Xtra Special EARTH Reporter for !) Get some rest after the road trip back to Chicago for Neil's book signing! See you down that road!

And thanks Willie, Neil, John, Dave & all artists for all you guys do for The Farmers. It was a beautiful day and we're so glad we could be there with everyone. It was a great weekend, with great folks, for a great cause. ☮️♥️

Elliot Roberts - In Memoriam (Greensleeves)

Labels: , , , , , , ,


At 9/26/2019 01:19:00 PM, Blogger Ronnie said...

The best highlight of the day was the lack of partisan political rhetoric coming from the performers. It was amazing to see everyone attending, from performer to fan to vendor, setting aside their differences and getting along. That happened at Woodstock a mere 50 years ago, didn’t it?

I too remember how apolitical Woodstock was, and how nice it was to mix in the mud with fervent Nixon supporters and conservative warhawks—too many people forget that in those days we all just got along and there were no fraught ideological differences in our culture or politics.

At 9/26/2019 07:36:00 PM, Blogger Sancho said...


At 9/27/2019 02:32:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I gotta say for me the highlight of the day was "Keep on Rocking in the Free World!"

At 10/02/2019 06:45:00 PM, Blogger Steve Rust Downunder said...

Saw these Neil Mugs and well Xmass is coming....


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