Farm Aid is returning to Raleigh, North Carolina’s Coastal Credit Union Mark Park at Walnut Creek on September 24 with a line-up that includes Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Dave Mathews with Tim Reynolds, Margo Price, Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Crow, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. Tickets go on sale on July 30.
One very notable absence from the lineup this year is Nelson’s fellow Farm Aid board member Neil Young. He skipped the show last year for the first time in the 37-year history of the charity event due to concerns about Covid, and he’s staying home this year for the same reasons.
“I will not be at Farm Aid this year,” he recently wrote to a fan on the Neil Young Archives.“I am not ready for that yet. I don’t think it is safe in the pandemic. I miss it very much.”
He told another fan that he has no plans to return to the road in the foreseeable future. “Not ready to tour,” he wrote. “Covid is real danger. Long covid? No thanks. Expose my son to big crowds. No.”
Young hasn’t played to a live audience since the 2019 edition of Farm Aid, and this is now the longest period of time he’s stayed off the concert stage since he began gigging as a high school student in Canada 60 years ago.
But Farm Aid will go on in his absence. “I’ve always said that family farmers strengthen us all,” Farm Aid President and Founder Willie Nelson said in a statement. “Farmers in North Carolina, across the Southeast, and all over the country are growing solutions to our toughest challenges, including climate change. We’re bringing Farm Aid here to highlight their hard work and celebrate the ways we can all join farmers to help.”
Farm Aid was last held in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 2014. Young spontaneously played “Rockin’ In The Free World” with Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah Nelson that night, kickstarting a collaboration with the two musicians that produced several albums and world tours.
This year’s show will be broadcast live on Farm Aid’s YouTube channel and the Circle television network.