Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp Ready For Farm Aid '98

Beach Boy Brian Wilson is among the artists performing at the festival Saturday.

With less than a week to go before the Farm Aid '98 concert Saturday,

country legend Willie Nelson knows exactly what's brought him back to play

the benefit that he co-founded with fellow rockers Neil Young and John

Mellencamp in 1985.

"We used to have 8 million small-family farmers. Now, we're down to less

than 2 million, and we're

HREF="http://www.addict.com/interview/Nelson,_Willie/mono-On_Farmers_Losing_

Farms-28.ram">losing 500 a week [interview excerpt]," Nelson said.

"Farm Aid was designed to stop all that, but it didn't happen, so all we

can do now is help any way we can."

Scheduled for Saturday at the New World Music Theatre in Tinley Park, Ill.,

Farm Aid '98 will bring together such top-flight musicians as Young,

Mellencamp, Beach Boy Brian Wilson, jam-rockers Phish and country-rockers

Steve Earle and Wilco, as well as actor Woody Harrelson.

The show will likely include unusual combinations of musicians, according

to Glenda Yoder, associate director of Farm Aid.

"With just a week left, it's coming together really well. The artists are

talking about who's playing with whom. There's going to be some interesting

mixes onstage," Yoder said. "Phish is very interested in playing with some

of the other bands. Willie [Nelson] likes to sit in with other artists and

might show up in anyone's set."

Since Nelson hosted the first Farm Aid in 1985, the concerts have generated

more than $14 million, which has been distributed to more than 100 farm

organizations, churches and service agencies in 44 states. Farm Aid

concerts -- which did not take place in 1989 or 1991 -- also have been held

in Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, South Carolina, Louisiana and Texas, in

addition to Illinois.

Past participants have included such major artists as folk-rock legend Bob

Dylan, bayou-rocker John Fogerty, sample-folkie Beck and country-punk act

the Supersuckers.

For the first time, Country Music Television will carry the concert live --

with the eight-hour broadcast hosted by country singer K.T. Oslin --

beginning at 4 p.m. EDT.

Funds raised are disbursed to farm organizations in an effort to curb what

Nelson described as a growing problem.

"What

HREF="http://www.addict.com/interview/Nelson,_Willie/mono-On_Gathered_Funds-

28.ram">funds we do gather [interview excerpt], we spread them

around the organizations that have already been in business to try to help

these 500 [family farmers] a week that are going out and try to help the

ones that are trying to stay in," Nelson said, acknowledging the enormity

of the task. "I think it's really important to try."