Farm Aid 2019: Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, Luke Combs turn out in the rain for family farmers

Farm Aid 2019: Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, Luke Combs turn out in the rain for family farmers

Farm Aid 2019: Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, Luke Combs turn out in the rain for family farmers

Farm Aid’s second trip to Wisconsin in 34 years (last time was in 2010, at Miller Park) was designed to bring the focus to the plight of the state’s dairy farmers. 

at the daylong concert. ” data-reactid=”27″>It also was about the music. Here’s what the 30,000 or so who came to Alpine got to hear at the daylong concert

Nelson was in good form, his set starting as it often does, with solid renditions of “Whiskey River” and “Still Is Still Moving to Me,” followed later by a festive one-two punch of “It’s All Going to Pot” and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”‘ data-reactid=”31″>Nelson was in good form, his set starting as it often does, with solid renditions of “Whiskey River” and “Still Is Still Moving to Me,” followed later by a festive one-two punch of “It’s All Going to Pot” and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

He really lit up trading blues licks on his battered acoustic guitar Trigger with his electric-guitar-strumming son Lukas. And 12 hours of music came to a spirited end Saturday with several stars of the day — Neil Young, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Margo Price (and her baby) — singing “I’ll Fly Away” together, and Nelson giving his cowboy hat a heck of a toss into the crowd. 

Neil Young & Promise of the Real 

Neil Young plays piano, left, while Lukas Nelson plays guitar at the opening of Young’s set at Farm Aid Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wis. Young co-founded Farm Aid in 1985 with fellow singer-songwriters (and music legends) Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp.

, as he talked of family farmers rejuvenating the Earth and encouraged shoppers to buy from farmers markets and avoid processed foods from big-box stores, and the farmers embraced the message and chorus of “Homegrown.  “Rockin’ in the Free World” was Farm Aid’s finest moment — guitar-blazing, drums-pummeling, face-melting chaos, as good rock should be — led by a snarling, screaming Young, with visceral shredding to match. ” data-reactid=”55″>Young was the most talkative of Farm Aid’s performers, but the crowd appreciated Young speaking about their issues, as he talked of family farmers rejuvenating the Earth and encouraged shoppers to buy from farmers markets and avoid processed foods from big-box stores, and the farmers embraced the message and chorus of “Homegrown.  “Rockin’ in the Free World” was Farm Aid’s finest moment — guitar-blazing, drums-pummeling, face-melting chaos, as good rock should be — led by a snarling, screaming Young, with visceral shredding to match. 

John Mellencamp 

John Mellencamp performs at Farm Aid Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wis. Mellencamp founded Farm Aid with Willie Nelson and Neil Young in 1985.

When Mellencamp last played Farm Aid in Wisconsin, at Miller Park in 2010, he was the day’s MVP, with people dancing on top of the Brewers dugout for his hits-stuffed set.

When Mellencamp’s vocals did rise above the band, his voice was significantly more scorched compared to a tour kickoff in Milwaukee in February. ” data-reactid=”78″>There wasn’t as much dancing this time out, not even during a classic like “Small Town,” because the muddiest mix of the day dampened the set more than any of the rain did earlier. When Mellencamp’s vocals did rise above the band, his voice was significantly more scorched compared to a tour kickoff in Milwaukee in February. 

It did convey the outrage of oppressed farmers’ anthem “Rain on the Scarecrow.” And there were no sound issues when the band left Mellencamp alone to play “Jack & Diane” on acoustic guitar, with the crowd sweetly joining in on the chorus (and playfully getting chastised for skipping a verse).

Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds 

Dave Matthews, right, and Tim Reynolds perform at Farm Aid Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wis.

Matthews watched his Farm Aid set stolen out from under him — and he couldn’t have seemed happier. 

— long heralded as one of the country’s most beautiful amphitheaters — is also the site of a tragic chapter in rock history: the Aug. 27, 1990, helicopter crash that killed Stevie Ray Vaughan, three members of Eric Clapton’s team and a pilot. ‘ data-reactid=”127″>Alpine Valley Music Theatre — long heralded as one of the country’s most beautiful amphitheaters — is also the site of a tragic chapter in rock history: the Aug. 27, 1990, helicopter crash that killed Stevie Ray Vaughan, three members of Eric Clapton’s team and a pilot. 

During her set, Raitt reminisced about watching Vaughan play, and dedicated an astounding solo acoustic cover of Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman” to Vaughan and other seminal blues artists. 

“We’re going to blow the roof off the place,” Raitt promised near set’s end, before dialing back expectations with a smile. “Well, I don’t know about that, but we’re gonna give it a good licking.”‘ data-reactid=”130″>“We’re going to blow the roof off the place,” Raitt promised near set’s end, before dialing back expectations with a smile. “Well, I don’t know about that, but we’re gonna give it a good licking.”

— and practically in country music — than Combs. His album “This One’s for You” is still the top-selling country album of 2019, two years after it came out. And the new album just around the corner, November’s “What You See Is What You Get,” is going to make him an even bigger star. ‘ data-reactid=”153″>There was no hotter star at Farm Aid 2019 — and practically in country music — than Combs. His album “This One’s for You” is still the top-selling country album of 2019, two years after it came out. And the new album just around the corner, November’s “What You See Is What You Get,” is going to make him an even bigger star. 

Combs may be justifiably awed to be playing Farm Aid with the likes of Nelson. But at the rate he’s going, it’s easy to imagine some hot shot country newcomer being awed to share a stage with him someday.‘ data-reactid=”156″>Combs may be justifiably awed to be playing Farm Aid with the likes of Nelson. But at the rate he’s going, it’s easy to imagine some hot shot country newcomer being awed to share a stage with him someday.

It wasn’t quite nighttime when Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats took the Farm Aid stage — but they were certainly sweating. ‘ data-reactid=”178″>It wasn’t quite nighttime when Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats took the Farm Aid stage — but they were certainly sweating. 

Rateliff’s voice — equal parts sand and honey — and soft-shoe showmanship were just gravy.‘ data-reactid=”180″>Rateliff’s voice — equal parts sand and honey — and soft-shoe showmanship were just gravy.

As the first surprise guest at Farm Aid 2019, Randy Houser appeared alongside Johnson. ‘ data-reactid=”202″>As the first surprise guest at Farm Aid 2019, Randy Houser appeared alongside Johnson. 

It was raining harder than at any point during the afternoon for Johnson’s set — and the hill had yet to be so packed. ‘ data-reactid=”204″>It was raining harder than at any point during the afternoon for Johnson’s set — and the hill had yet to be so packed. 

Margo Price can probably connect with Farm Aid deeper than any other artist on the bill.‘ data-reactid=”226″>Margo Price can probably connect with Farm Aid deeper than any other artist on the bill.

In 1985, the year of the first Farm Aid, Price’s family lost their family farm in Aledo, Illinois, hence the name of the country artist’s breakout 2016 album “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter.” ” data-reactid=”227″>In 1985, the year of the first Farm Aid, Price’s family lost their family farm in Aledo, Illinois, hence the name of the country artist’s breakout 2016 album “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter.” 

She also previewed a mournful, quietly devastating new song, “Long Live the King,” a tribute to incredible leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon who suffered tragic deaths. Expect it on the forthcoming album, which, like the past two, and based on that new song, is bound to receive universal acclaim.  ‘ data-reactid=”229″>She also previewed a mournful, quietly devastating new song, “Long Live the King,” a tribute to incredible leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon who suffered tragic deaths. Expect it on the forthcoming album, which, like the past two, and based on that new song, is bound to receive universal acclaim.  

Nelson and Promise of The Real made the first guest performance of the day with his brother Micah’s band Particle Kid. For his own set, several acts paid it forward, with Micah, Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, and Yola all coming out for the simmering “Find Yourself,” culminating with Yola and Nelson trading scintillating vocal runs over purring organ courtesy of Wauwatosa native Logan Metz.‘ data-reactid=”251″>Nelson and Promise of The Real made the first guest performance of the day with his brother Micah’s band Particle Kid. For his own set, several acts paid it forward, with Micah, Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, and Yola all coming out for the simmering “Find Yourself,” culminating with Yola and Nelson trading scintillating vocal runs over purring organ courtesy of Wauwatosa native Logan Metz.

Leon, the son of Promise of the Real percussionist Tato Melgar also shared the stage, as he had earlier in the day with Micah’s band. But this time he was strapped to a real guitar twice as big as he was.” data-reactid=”252″>Leon, the son of Promise of the Real percussionist Tato Melgar also shared the stage, as he had earlier in the day with Micah’s band. But this time he was strapped to a real guitar twice as big as he was.

Yola 

English singer-songwriter Yola performs at Farm Aid Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wis. It was the second time Farm Aid is taking place in Wisconsin in the 34-year-old nonprofit’s history, and the first Farm Aid performance for Yola, who released her first solo album earlier this year.

No one at Farm Aid sang more fabulously than Yola.

The folk artist out of the U.K. is getting a lot of buzz, and she showed why Saturday, with a voice like a lost relic from golden soul records of the early ’60s for splendid songs “Faraway Look” and the title track from this year’s breakthrough album “Walk Through Fire.”

But the real showstopper was a glorious cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” If you’re of the mindset that you can’t really improve a classic, Yola’s performance Saturday would make you reconsider.

Tanya Tucker performs at Farm Aid Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wis. It was Tucker’s first appearance at Farm Aid since 1985 – the first Farm Aid concert.

She was joking, but, seriously, Farm Aid, it’s a good question — given that her triumphant set Saturday was one of the day’s best.‘ data-reactid=”299″>She was joking, but, seriously, Farm Aid, it’s a good question — given that her triumphant set Saturday was one of the day’s best.

To be fair, Tucker has been relatively dormant musically; she released her first album of original songs in 17 years, “While I’m Livin’,” last month. Co-produced by Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings, “While I’m Livin’” is excellent old-school country, and singles “Hard Luck” and “The Wheels of Laredo” translated terrifically live, with the 61-year-old, pink-haired Tucker strutting in knee-high cowboy boots and showcasing the gripping, gritty twang in her voice. ” data-reactid=”300″>To be fair, Tucker has been relatively dormant musically; she released her first album of original songs in 17 years, “While I’m Livin’,” last month. Co-produced by Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings, “While I’m Livin’” is excellent old-school country, and singles “Hard Luck” and “The Wheels of Laredo” translated terrifically live, with the 61-year-old, pink-haired Tucker strutting in knee-high cowboy boots and showcasing the gripping, gritty twang in her voice. 

“The falling price of wheat’s not our concern, and the cost of operation may well be rising,” Tucker sang solemnly. “But the fact is you lose more than you earn.” Singing of an auction of the land, Tucker changed the lyrics to “cold gray Wisconsin sky.” ‘ data-reactid=”302″>“The falling price of wheat’s not our concern, and the cost of operation may well be rising,” Tucker sang solemnly. “But the fact is you lose more than you earn.” Singing of an auction of the land, Tucker changed the lyrics to “cold gray Wisconsin sky.” 

Jamestown Revival ‘ data-reactid=”304″>Jamestown Revival 

Ian Mellencamp and Particle Kid ‘ data-reactid=”308″>Ian Mellencamp and Particle Kid 

Ian Mellencamp offered words of hope singing about disappearing walls and wanting peace with his solo set. Particle Kid was far less optimistic, bringing out his brother Lukas Nelson’s band Promise of the Real for the stoner-rock jam “Everything Is (Expletive).”‘ data-reactid=”312″>Ian Mellencamp offered words of hope singing about disappearing walls and wanting peace with his solo set. Particle Kid was far less optimistic, bringing out his brother Lukas Nelson’s band Promise of the Real for the stoner-rock jam “Everything Is (Expletive).”

Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or plevy@journalsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at facebook.com/PietLevyMJS.‘ data-reactid=”314″>Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or plevy@journalsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at facebook.com/PietLevyMJS.

Piet also talks concerts, local music and more on “TAP’d In” with Jordan Lee. Hear it at 8 a.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9), or wherever you get your podcasts.” data-reactid=”315″>Piet also talks concerts, local music and more on “TAP’d In” with Jordan Lee. Hear it at 8 a.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9), or wherever you get your podcasts.

Farm Aid was rainy, that didn’t stop Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews or Luke Combs” data-reactid=”316″>This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Farm Aid was rainy, that didn’t stop Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews or Luke Combs


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