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
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
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.
HREF="http://www.addict.com/interview/Nelson,_Willie/mono-On_Gathered_Funds- 28.ram">funds we do gather
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."