Like so many other festival events, Farm Aid was taken to an online format this year. Farm Aid 2020 On the Road marked the 35th anniversary of the annual event that raises funds to help farmers thrive. It featured more than 20 artists including founders Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews as well as Margo Price, Boz Scaggs, Brandi Carlile, Jamey Johnson, Black Pumas, Chris Stapleton and Bonnie Raitt.
The show took place on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 8-11 PM EDT. Fans had a choice of watching from smart TV streaming services, the Farm Aid YouTube channel and AXS TV. It was also broadcast on Sirius XM.
All the performers performed at a venue of their choice. Carlile performed from a Pacific Northwest forest, Mellencamp did his set on a makeshift stage in front of an Airstream, Matthews choose to perform on the porch of a cabin and Young broadcast from a very active farm.
Young opened his acoustic set by saying, “Welcome to Farm Aid, everybody. It’s my pleasure to be here with you again this year and hopefully for many years into the future with Willie, John and Dave and all the farmers and all the wonderful people we met.
“We all love you and we support your work. We want your way of life to continue and to actually flourish again. No corporate farms, real farms.”
He then went on to perform a snippet of “Field of Opportunity”, “Homegrown”, “Harvest”, “Old Man” and “Everybody Knows this is Nowhere” to an audience of llamas, ducks and chickens.
Nelson was accompanied by his sons Lukas and Micah Nelson for his performance. His set including hits like “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”, “Hands on the Wheel” and “On the Road Again”. When the singer sang the lyrics, “I can’t wait to get on the road again” it took on even more meaning due to the current pandemic situation.
Dave Matthews did a solo acoustic performance that broadcast from Virginia. His set included “Don’t Drink the Water”, “Rye Whiskey, Grey Street” and “Shadows on the Wall”. He introduced Rye Whiskey saying “Rye is a thing that people grow. And some of that rye gets turned in to whiskey. Funny enough I should say that because last night I might of possibly had a little too much of it.”
Previous to the event, Nelson was quoted as saying, “This pandemic and so many other challenges have revealed how essential family farmers and ranchers are to the future of our planet. Farm Aid 2020 is going to give the whole country a chance to learn about the important work of farmers and how they’re contributing to our well-being, beyond bringing us good food.”
The livestream ended with a montage of previous Farm Aid concert ending jams as well as a rendition of Nelson’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”
Those who missed the event can still watch it on the Farm Aid YouTube channel. Donations can be made on the Farm Aid web site at any time.