Farm Aid partners Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews each performed virtually for the Farm Aid 2020 On the Road livestream. Margo Price, Chris Stapleton, Bonnie Raitt and Boz Scaggs, Brandi Carlile, Jamey Johnson, Black Pumas and many more also took part in the 35th anniversary of the annual fundraiser, which shifted to a “virtual at-home festival experience” due to Covid-19.
Many of the performers delivered their short set from an outdoor venue: Carlile from a Pacific Northwest forest, Mellencamp on a makeshift stage in front of an Airstream, Matthews on the porch of a cabin, and Young from a very active farm.
“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,” Young said prior to his set.
“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.”
Young’s acoustic set — performed to an audience of llamas, chicken and ducks — included a snippet of “Field of Opportunity,” “Homegrown” “Harvest,” “Old Man” and “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.”
Nelson — accompanied by “the Boys,” his sons Lukas and Micah Nelson — played a set that featured “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” “Hands on the Wheel” and a bittersweet “On the Road Again,” where a quarantined Nelson emphatically sang, “The life I love is making music with my friends, and I can’t wait to get on the road again.”
“This pandemic and so many other challenges have revealed how essential family farmers and ranchers are to the future of our planet,” Nelson previously said in a statement. “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 three-and-a-half hour livestream concluded with a montage of previous Farm Aids’ concert-ending all-star jams and a lively rendition of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”