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Willie Nelson Readies Farm Aid 25

Willie Nelson photo by David McClister, courtesy of Lost Highway.

Willie Nelson photo by David McClister, courtesy of Lost Highway.

In September 1985, Willie Nelson established a charity he hoped would be short-lived. Instead, the work goes on, and on Oct. 2, he’ll present Farm Aid 25: Growing Hope For America.

Willie wore a Milwaukee Brewers jersey for the online announcement on Monday in recognition of the venue, Miller Park. The concert marks the first time that Farm Aid will be held at a major-league baseball stadium. John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews — all of whom serve as board members for the organization — are on tap for the concert. Other acts will be named at a later date.

Willie lamented that Farm Aid is still necessary, noting that the event has “called attention to the problem, but we have not solved the problem.”

The “we” in Farm Aid is pretty phenomenal. Over the years, various editions of the concert have featured such acts as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard, Kenny Chesney, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, the Beach Boys, Garth Brooks, Jamey Johnson, Alan Jackson, Gretchen Wilson… well, you get the idea.

John Mellencamp took part in the Farm Aid announcement via a Ustream hookup from Bloomington, Ind., from the same room he was in when Willie called him in 1985 to take part in the inaugural show.

“I personally think that Willie oughta get the Nobel Peace Prize for Farm Aid,” John suggested.

John had a hit the year of Farm Aid’s debut with “Small Town,” a song that carried a familiar country theme. It celebrated the heartland communities that have historically provided a geographical center for the nation’s web of family farms. John was concerned about those towns’ futures then. He’s even more concerned now.

“All these small towns,” he said, “now are just ghost towns.”

Farm Aid continues to shine a spotlight on the issue. Tickets go on sale Aug. 14. It will also be carried live on DirecTV.


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