Photo courtesy Sears Hallett

Farm Aid 15 Saturday September 21, 2002 Post Gazette Pavilion Burgettstown, PA

w/ Willie Nelson/Neil Young (solo)/John Mellencamp/Dave Matthews (solo)/Kid Rock
Drive By Truckers/Los Lonely Boys/Gillian Welch/Keith Urban/Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Lee Ann Womack/Tegan and Sara/Montgomery Gentry/Anthony Smith

Photo montage courtesy Jason Squires

Kid Rock: Fire Down Below/Cowboy/Midnight Rider/Good Old Boys (Theme From 'Dukes Of Hazard')/Picture (w/ Allison Moorer)/Bawitdaba

Dave Matthews: Grave Is Gone/Dancing Nancies/Too Much/Gravedigger/Where Are You Going?/Crazy/Bartender/All Along The Watchtower

John Mellencamp: Rain On The Scarecrow/Peaceful World/Paper In Fire/Crumblin' Down/Small Town/Stones In My Passway/Pink Houses (w/ Gillian Welch)

Neil Young: Old Man/Heart Of Gold/Harvest Moon/Mother Earth/After The Goldrush/Comes A Time/Sugar Mountian

Willie Nelson: Whiskey River/Stay All Night A Little Longer/Good Hearted Woman/Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys/My American Heartland, My American Dream (Jam)/America, The Beautiful (Jam)/Move It On Over (Jam)/On The Road Again (Jam)

Farm Aid was coming to town! When tickets went on sale I splurged to the chagrin of my wife and ordered $60 seats instead if $30 lawn tickets. She wasn't too happy but it was Farm Aid for crying out loud. A colleague at work used to be the Post Gazette Pavilion media director and he hooked us up with V.I.P parking passes, and V.I.P. concession passes. Basically it was a private bar with clean bathrooms. While we were at the bar there was a sign for back stage tours and not even thinking we decided not to go. What the fuck was I thinking? I could have been this kid.

Photo courtesy Martha Rial

Anyway we go to our seats and they aren't even under the pavilion. This isn't turning out as planned. We our sitting there listening to Toby Keith when my buddy who got us the passes comes walking up the aisle. He is in the second row center and his kid thinks it's too loud, do we want the seats? Thank you Drive-By Truckers! We obviously take them and hang the rest of the show feet from the stage.

Photo courtesy Jason Squires

Matthew McConaughey is M.C.-ing the event and during the commercial breaks for television he is standing there waiting to introduce the next act. I mean he is just standing there and the audience is quietly waiting also. I wasn't quiet. I am feeling fine from the beers and start yelling, "Hey Wooderson, Contact sucks!" He was pissed. The rest of the concert was great. Even Kid Rock was fun as hell. I watched the coverage on CMT and there are a couple of shots of me and my wife in the audience. I kick myself today for not getting a signed shirt.

Review from The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Nelson, Mellencamp and Young remain passionate about Farm Aid

Sunday, September 22, 2002

By Scott Mervis, Post-Gazette Weekend Editor

Willie Nelson for president?

The trial balloon was floated by John Hansen, the secretary of the National Farmers Union, yesterday at a backstage pow-wow kicking off the 15th Farm Aid concert at the Post-Gazette Pavilion.

Willie, with his jar of chocolate milk in front of him, laughed and warded off the proposal by using two fingers to make a cross.

You're right, Willie. You're way too important as a musician and a legend to waste your time in the White House. Plus, there's that whole issue of inhaling.

Indeed, it's probably enough of a commitment to the nation that Nelson has been the heart and soul of Farm Aid since founding the organization with Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985. If there were any question that they still care deeply about this cause 17 years later, it was dispelled by the fiery rhetoric at the pre-concert press gathering.

"I grew up in a small town and I still live there," Mellencamp said, echoing one of biggest hits. "I have seen how corporate America has changed the face of our nation. We can have all the concerts we want, but if you guys want a better place, it starts with one person and that's you."

Making a very rare appearance in front of the media, Neil Young was particularly animated in his plea for personal responsibility as policy.

"Attention Shoppers! Attention Shoppers!" Young hollered on stage and off. "Buy with a conscience and save the family farm! Go to the right place and buy the right food. It's just as easy as going to the wrong place and buying the wrong food."

The right places, according to Young, are farmers markets and natural food stores. The wrong place would be where most people actually go -- the big supermarkets.

Young, who played an acoustic set later in the evening, also threw down a challenge to the media:

"Don't write about who played or what anybody wore. Try to write about the real issues."

While the likes of Lee Ann Womack (with Willie sitting in), Drive-By Truckers and Keith Urban played the starred-and-striped stage in the early going, the issues were being discussed back in the tent.

Farmers and farm lobbyists from across the country joined local farmers in making the case for the family farm. They discussed in great detail their dissatisfaction with the federal farm bill passed last year. They talked about the subsidies for the corporate farms, dangers of irradiated foods, drought affecting 50 percent of the nation's farmland, and genetically modified corn.

Larry Mitchell, CEO of the American Corn Growers Association, said the golden rule applies in Washington: "Them's that got the gold, get to rule."

John Kinsman, a 76-year-old dairy farmer from Wisconsin, noted that he lived through the 1930s and, "we lived better then than we do now. We weren't working 18 hours a day to keep our farm." Kinsman said Farm Aid has been a huge help by giving money to the unions and farm organizations that help counsel farmers when they're desperate.

On the artistic side, the Farm Aid founders continue to take steps to assure that a newer generation gets involved. New board member Dave Matthews, he of the happy feet and grim poetics, dazzled with an acoustic set last night that he adapted to Farm Aid.

He also pounded away at the day's mantra of "good food."

"This country has done lots of great things and gone through a lot of hardships," he told the crowd, and added, "I think we have to save the family farms without the government."

Kid Rock, who rocked with a capital R, might not be destined for the board of anything, but he certainly knew where the biggest concert in the world was happening yesterday.

"I'm here to learn more about this today," he said, "to observe some of greatest cats to make music ever, help this wonderful cause out and rock the [bleepin'] house."

Toby Keith, a late addition, was busy pushing an agenda that didn't have much to do with the price of corn. He took the stage with a bizarre James Taylor-type love song set in Afghanistan with the chorus of "Oooo, the Taliban, baby." Perhaps it was written to offset the war cry of "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue ('The Angry American')," which was greeted with cheers and waving flags from the sold-out crowd of 23,257.

Keith showed his lighter side with a song about Willie and one of Willie's favorite imported crops. It went, "The last word I spoke before they took me in/I'll never smoke weed with Willie again."

Yes, the White House isn't getting Willie Nelson anytime soon. Willie and the boys are sticking with Farm Aid as their tool.

"We'll be back next year," said Young. "And the year after that. We're not giving up."

 

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