Farm Aid 2008 Concert a Great Success: Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson and Neil Young Host Day-Long Event in Mansfield, Massachusetts

October 5, 2008
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Willie_Nelson_and_Neil_YoungAccording to Neil Young, Farm Aid’s greatest accomplishment is in its spirit. Ask America’s Farmers and I think many would agree.  More than the money it has raised, Farm Aid has generated awareness throughout America – in fact, throughout the world.

Farm Aid was formed 23 years ago by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp as America’s farmers were struggling to keep their farms.  An annual concert event, Farm Aid has since raised more than 30 million dollars and 2008 is sure to be a banner year.

Farm Aid came to Mansfield, Massachusetts on Saturday, September 20, 2008.  Farm Aid had never been held in its home state of Massachusetts and the timing was perfect.  And with New England weather being ever unpredictable, someone put in a good word with Mother Nature; we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day in New England!

Farm Aid’s mission is to ‘keep family farmers on their land’. Farm Aid does this by “Promoting Food from Family Farms, Growing the Good Food Movement, Helping Farmers Thrive John Mellencamp and Dave Matthewsand Taking Action to Change the System”. Farm Aid’s volunteers and family farmers were out in full force to spread the word to the 20,000 attendees at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts.

At Farm Aid 2008 were food vendors who sold only organic or farm sourced food.  Not your average concert food of pretzels, hotdogs and candy bars, concert-goers were able to purchase grilled corn on the cob, pork chop sandwiches,  burritos with about 10 choose-your-own fixings, fresh fruit, caramel apples, fruit smoothies, nachos, veggie burgers, hamburgers, pizzas and of course lots of beer.

Aside from the food and beverage vendors, Farm Aid sponsors were giving away bags and back packs, lip balm, photos, organic milk samples and much, much more.

And for those who wanted to speak with farmers and learn more about what and how they do what they do, there was the HOMEGROWN Village.  Concert-goers even had the opportunity to get their own hands dirty in compost!One Flew SouthOne Flew South

The doors to Farm Aid opened at noon and the concerts began around 1:30.  The first few groups sang only 2-3 songs each.  We heard from One Flew South who sang their newly released song My Kind of Beautiful, which was a highlight of my afternoon!  They sound great on their CD, but in person they sound even better!

Jakob Dylan and the Gold Mountain Rebels sang 4-5 songs.  Jakob was fantastic and looks and sounds more like his dad as the years pass! Consider it a compliment.

We also heard from The Pretenders, who showed us that even after nearly 30 years and all new band members, Chrissie Hynde is truly an artist who has stayed faithful to her rock and roll roots.

Besides One Flew South, I was most looking forward to seeing legend and Rock n Roll Hall of Famer Jerry Lee “Killer” Lewis perform.  And he was fantastic! Jerry Lee Lewis performed 5 songs, including Roll Over Beethoven, Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On, and my favorite Great Balls of Fire! I never would have thought that the whole pavilion would be on their feet for Jerry Lee Lewis, but that’s exactly where they were! It was spell binding and Jerry Lee proved exactly why he is a legend! I have now seen one of the greatest Rock and Roll legends of all time and I can’t tell you how exhilarating it was!

Kenny ChesneyAround 6:30 pm Kenny Chesney was set to take the stage.  Swoon.  Kenny performed about 8 songs, acoustically. That was a surprise.  I had never seen Kenny perform but had seen and heard some of his concerts on video, so I was expecting BIG and crazy!

Kenny sat on a stool, along side two other musicians, and he sang some great songs.  Willie Nelson came out to help Kenny with his final two songs and I have to say I never laughed harder when Kenny sang the lyrics (which I had never before heard), “at two I went home with a 10 and at 10 I woke up with a two!”.  He laughed about it with the audience and told us that he’s certain it has happened to a few of us too!

After Kenny Chesney came Farm Aid board members Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Willie Nelson.  I can’t say enough about their performances, so I’ll encourage you to go to the Farm Aid Web site yourself and watch their performances!  They are nothing short of stellar!

Other performers at Farm Aid 2008 included Arlo Guthrie, moe., Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Steve Earle, Nation Beat, Jamey Johnson, Jesse Lenat, Will Daley (from Boston!), Danielle Evin and someone new on my radar, The Elms!

Grace Potter                 Will Dailey                  The Elms

Carson DalyPresented by Whole Foods Market and Horizon Organic and hosted by Carson Daly and Bob Costas, Farm Aid 2008 was broadcast live on Direct TV, who announced that if Direct TV subscribers donated to Farm Aid, they would match their contributions to $50,000.  Watch interviews of performers and supporters by Carson and Bob at

Learn more about Farm Aid and support the Good Food Movement. We all love to eat good food!  Farm Aid is Farm Made!

The growing good food movement.

“Farm Aid has united farmers, artists, consumers, and concerned citizens to create awareness about the benefits of good food from family farms. Farmers markets and local farm stands are everywhere. Let us help you find one! More people are purchasing organic food. More Americans are choosing meat products from livestock humanely raised on pastures, free of antibiotics and hormones. Rural citizens, consumers, and family farmers are stopping the factory farms that pollute and destroy the rural environment. Americans are rejecting genetically engineered food.

If you care about the food you eat, then please make a gift to Farm Aid. We keep family farmers on the land growing fresh, healthy food for all of us.”

Previous Farm Aid News: Open Letter to Congress on $700B Bailout, Family Farmers Key, Farm Aid Helps Hurricane Victims

Willie NelsonNeil YoungJohn MellencampDave Matthews          John MellencampDave MatthewsNeil YoungDave Matthews