Review: Farm Aid

Farm Aid 2013 LogoSaratoga Springs, N.Y was the site for this year’s annual Farm Aid event held at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC).

In 1985, Farm Aid was founded by the three headlining acts for the event: Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young.

This is the 28th Farm Aid event, and Farm Aid has raised over $43 million for family farmers over the years.

This event was sold out at 25,000 people. For those who could not make the show, Sirius/XM satellite radio carried the event on channel 56, Willie’s Roadhouse from 2 p.m. – 11 p.m. also streamed a live webcast from 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Regional Food Bank was on hand taking food donations.

On the lawn area, they had the Homegrown Village that consisted over 50 food and farm groups, artist and DIY agrarians from across the country – from the local to the national – that offered interactive exhibits for your entertainment and edification.

There was also beer, wine and cider sample tastings.

Sponsors for the event were Chipotle Mexican Grill, Family Farm Insurance, Amy’s Kitchen, Taste N.Y, American Harvest, PLOTSAVER, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Icoscraps, Organic Valley Coup, Applegate, Dean’s Beans, Greener Fields Together and Horizon Organic.

Vendors for the event included Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jalepeno Corn Dogs, Patchwork Family Farms, Montreal Poutine, Dean’s Beans, Sarchiotos and Esperanto.

Farm Aid’s lineup consisted of artist/performers in many different genres such as, country, blues and rock.

Lineup included Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds, Jack Johnson, Jamey Johnson, Kacey Musgraves, Amos Lee, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real, Carlene Carter, Bahamas, Pegi Young & The Survivors, Insects vs. Robots, Sasha Dobson, Jesse Lenat and The Blackwood Quartet.

There was also a surprise performance by 94-year-old Pete Seeger that made the crowd go nuts when he came out to sing a song and play.

Jack Johnson was also walking around taking pictures with fans while he was dressed up in a cow suit.

This was a really great show with a lot of different styles of music, and it was all to raise money for a good cause.

The acts that stood out the most were Kacey Musgraves, Jamey and Jack Johnson, Lukas Nelson, Toad The Wet Sprocket, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Willie Nelson.

I have never seen any of these artist on this show perform live ever, and they were all really good with Lukas Nelson being my favorite of the night.

Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real were just awesome and made me a fan. They definitely got the crowd going and into this show. Lukas also came out and performed songs with some of the other artists of the night, ending with playing guitar for his dad, Willie.

Toad The Wet Sprocket continued the momentum when they started playing all of their hits from back in the day.

Jamey Johnson and his band looked like they came right out of the show “Duck Dynasty.” Joking aside, Jamey and his band were really good, and I would love to see these guys on a more intimate stage setting.

Jack Johnson left the cow suit behind and put on a great performance. The crowd was really over for him.

Dave Matthews put in a really nice acoustic performance with Tim Reynolds playing guitar. I will definitely have to check DMB when they come back to town next year.

John Mellencamp was a lot better than I thought he would be. He still has it even though he did rely on the crowd a little too much to sing for him. The crowd was singing all his songs anyway, but it was a little too much and it seemed like he was saving his voice.

Neil Young was pretty good but could have been better. I think he only performed three or four songs that were mellow, and I just wanted him to rock out. He went on a 20 minute rant that could have been better utilized for more songs. They fans were not too happy about it after his set was over, feeling left unfulfilled, especially when tickets for this event were not cheap.

Willie Nelson was amazing. Even at his age he sounds like he did 30 years ago. He ended with “Roll Me up and Smoke Me when I Die.”

This was a beautiful live event, but there were some drawbacks.

First, where were all the American Flags? I think there were only two when they should have been everywhere.

Second, sadly, was how trashed the venue was afterwards. Farm Aid had compost and recycling bins everywhere and made several announcements about it between sets.