Wednesday, September 23, 2014
Words by Butch Worrell
Photos by Butch Worrell
Jack White photos courtesy of Greg Nixon
Farm Aid held it’s 29th birthday party at the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh, N.C. last weekend. Of course the Farm Aid Four were there; Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Dave Mathews, and John Mellencamp.
Also in attendance were Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Todd Snider, Gary Clark, Jr., Delta Rae, Jamey Johnson, Jesse Lenat, Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, Micah Nelson’s Band “Insects vs. Robots”, and opening the show in her Farm Aid debut, The Raelyn Nelson Band.
Preceding the concert was a press conference featuring all the principals as well as Farm Aid staffer’s and representatives of North Carolina’s small farm families. The passion that fuels their fight to preserve the family farm in the face of corporate domination literally boiled over here. Neil Young especially damned the corporate control of our food supply; “Power, it’s all about corporations telling what to do.”
Micah Nelson with his band “Insects VS Robots” and the incomparable Todd Snider were up next. Followed by true country music royalty, Carlene Carter, daughter of Carl Smith and June Carter, Granddaughter of Mother Maybelle Carter, and step-daughter of Johnny Cash. Carlene recently released “Carter Girl”, her musical journey exploring the roots of the Carter family’s musical legacy.
The irresistible rhythms of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s brought the crowd to it’s feet with it’s true American Jazz.
Then Jamey Johnson and Gary Clark, Jr. kept the crowd up with their blends of Rock, Blues, with a dash of country seasoning.
Jack White set the crowd on fire and showed the future of Rock to be blue with his set which was arguably the most exciting of the show.
Dave Mathews and Tim Reynolds delivered an impeccable acoustic set.
As has become a Farm Aid tradition.
John Mellencamp’s set featured songs that capture the struggle of the small family farmer---”Rain on the Scarecrow” and “Small Town”, and captured the audience as well, bringing them to their feet, Singing along and dancing.
Neil Young opened his acoustic set with “Heart of Gold”, moving on to a duet with Mickey Raphael on harmonica and himself on harpsichord for a moving rendition of “Mother Earth”. It was when he was joined by Lukas and Micah Nelson for an electrified version of “Rocking in the Free World” that he brought the crowd to their feet.
Then the Grand Finale, Willie Nelson and Family.
Truly family with his sister Bobby as always on piano and his son Lukas on electric guitar. The high point an achingly beautiful version of “Angels Flying to close to the Ground”. Then the traditional closing where Willie is joined by all his friends and family, from dancing Indian medicine men to his beautiful, talented Granddaughter. Farm Aid 2015 can’t come too soon!!!