A Photographic Walk-Thru of Farm Aid 2021 and Homegrown Village
Farm Aid 2021 rolled into Hartford's Xfinity Theater on Saturday, September 25, 2021. Led by live performances by National Treasure Willie Nelson, and fellow Farm Aid Board members John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and Margo Price. We were also treated to sets from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Tyler Childers, Bettye LaVette, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Jamey Johnson, Allison Russell, Particle Kid, and Ian Mellencamp.
Unfortunately, two headliners - Neil Young and Sturgill Simpson - both had to back out on what was a perfect day weather-wise. But around 18,000 of us enjoyed what Farm Aid 2021 brought to Hartford.
My musical discovery of the day was the blazing set from Kentucky's Tyler Childers, who commanded the stage by putting everything he had into the microphone. Childers is a furious entertainer with the stage presence of a prophet delivering truth to the masses. His performance left me and the crowd around me speechless. Just a lot of 'WOW', and 'Holy Sh%$!' were the only things I could hear among the screams and applause.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats were a close second, they brought the house down with a rousing version of his hit 'S.O.B.', with Rateliff taking a knee and belting out the salty title.
But really, you can't compete with the masters. John Mellencamp seemed to be in an ornery mood, letting the F-bombs fly. Mellencamp even reprimanded the audience, who launched into the chorus of Jack & Diane early. Instead of his infamous 'Suckin' down a chili dog, outside the Tastee-Freez', quite a few launched into 'Oh yeah, life goes on' to his amusement. Mellencamp stopped, looked at the crowd, and said "Now, we've been rehearsing this song us- me and you, for the last 40 F'ing years! Come on'. John Mellencamp just posted the moment to YouTube - here it is -
And what can you say about Willie Nelson, except God Bless Him. 88 years old, with his legendary guitar Trigger as always by his side. Nelson seemed to be in great spirits and tore through a small selection of the hits from his vast library of music. The moment that blew me and the crowd away though was during a rousing cover of the classic 'Texas Flood', where one of his backup musicians in The Family did a rousing solo on not just one, but two penny whistles simultaneously.
I spent around 7 hours wandering through Farm Aid 2021 and the Homegrown village. It featured a wide assortment of Connecticut family farmers and advocates, all set up in spaces educating and feeding the hungry crowd on a wide range of topics and problems that American family farmers face today. Enjoy the sights of Farm Aid 2021.