Farm Aid Rocks Again
The 20th annual benefit concert returned to Illinois where it began. This time the quality of the Farm Aid show was incredible. Label one of the best big music festivals to come around yearly and the brightest with a great cause.
This years artists Los Lonely Boys, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Guy, Arlo Guthrie and Kenny Chesney were only a few on the talent list. Chicago's own Wilco joined the show this year saying a few words against their own newspaper for printing negative funding info. Matthews and Widespread Panic reminding everyone, in song, that "none of us are free" as long as someone is chained.
The show carried the message and the music into a new decade with passion and a contagiously good energy. Dave Matthews joined Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp in heading up the cause; he stole not a few hearts while expressing love for the land in his "Gravedigger," a mournful request for a shallow grave, "So that I can feel the rain." Mellencamp's "Rain on the Scarecrow," beat the same chilling drum, in his own intense Indiana-boy style. Kenny Chesney country music rock the stadium. Neil Young opened with "Walking to New Orleans," and a reminder that Farm Aid was among the first to extend help to Louisiana and Mississippi farmers after Katrina hit. Neil Young's song "Southern Man" grows more powerful with age. The old master is one with his guitar, and his soulful presence has to be experienced. And saying "I hope we're making a difference. I have a feeling we are."
Willie Nelson, American icon and Farm Aid founder, wrapped up the show with some good 'ol gospel. "I Saw the Light," he sang, as his "family" gathered on the stage — his blues-playing sons, Native American friends gathered around in tribal dress, his dog sleeping on the side stage. The beloved Texan who powers the band bus with bio diesel swears he'll never quit trying to make a difference for family farmers.
The music. Yeah. It rocked. But it wasn't just about the music. Farm Aid. Farm Aid comes to Tinley amid tough year for farmers. It's been a bad year for farmers, and the show will put the spotlight on a way of life hit hard by 2005's extreme weather. Not too many decades ago, farmland occupied a substantial portion of the Southland. There still are quite a few farms in these parts, but each year there are fewer and fewer, with metropolitan encroachment transforming the farmland into subdivisions, shopping centers, factories, schools and other structures. The farmers who have sold their land to developers around here have, in many cases, realized tidy financial returns. And similar scenarios are playing out in other metropolitan areas across the country. Help if can its are future.