Jakob Dylan performed at "An Evening with Farm Aid" in Manhattan and afterward said a new Wallflowers album is due to arrive in September, the band's first set of new songs since 2005. (Photo Copyright: Ebet Roberts)
"I was at the very first Farm Aid when I was a teenager," said Jakob Dylan midway through a private performance in Manhattan, playing an intimate benefit for the music-industry-backed group that supports American farmers.
Although Dylan watched as a young fan at that first Farm Aid concert, organized by Willie Nelson and friends in 1985, he has returned as an acclaimed performer for the annual all-star shows in 2008 and 2011.
"I'm glad to be a part of it, whenever they ask," the singer told a roomful of Farm Aid donors who gathered April 19 at Haven's Kitchen a recreational cooking school and specialty food shop, two blocks from Union Square.
From the days when Nelson recruited fellow Farm Aid board members Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews, Farm Aid has helped propel a cultural shift in the country, toward the appreciation of food grown by family farmers, not corporations.
Haven's Kitchen, founded by Alison Schneider, offered delicious evidence of the availability of such food, as in-house chief Julia Sullivan cooked up a feast drawn from family farms in New Jersey, the Hudson Valley and upstate New York.
The evening brought together intersecting circles of music activism, philanthropy and the Good Food movement.
Liora Yalof, senior VP and real estate broker at the Corcoran Group, left, hosted the Farm Aid benefit and allowed the organization to invite her friends and colleagues to dinner and the performance by Jakob Dylan, right. (Photo Copyright: Ebet Roberts)
The evening's host, Liora Yalof, a senior VP and real estate broker at the Corcoran Group, and a longtime Farm Aid supporter, allowed the organization to invite her friends and colleagues to enjoy dinner and Dylan's performance. (Yolaf's husband, Steven, serves on the board of HeadCount the organization that aims to raise political awareness and register voters at concerts).
"I was shocked by how our food system was run," Yalof said, recalling how she began focusing on food issues following the birth of her daughter, who is now 17. "In Farm Aid, I found an organization that embodies everything I believe in."
Before Dylan took the stage, the evening's featured speaker was author, educator and activist Joan Dye Gussow who, a decade before Farm Aid launched, began speaking out about the importance of eating seasonal, local, food.
"This idea, 30 years ago, sank like a stone," she quipped. But now, she added, "all of our lives depend on farmers, and their ability to produce food, and we forget that at our peril."
Jack Rovner, a principle in Vector Management, left, shares a moment with his client Jakob Dylan, center, and Peter Shapiro, a partner in Brooklyn Bowl, the concert venue and bowling alley in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (Photo Copyright: Ebet Roberts)
Born in an era of music activism in the mid-1980s, Farm Aid is the longest-running concert for a cause that the music industry has seen. Farm Aid executive director Carolyn Mugar credited the dedication of Nelson, Young, Mellencamp and Matthews for the organization's longevity and accomplishments.
"We are lucky because we work for four of the most brilliant communicators in the country," she said.
Talk at the event turned to the potential for Farm Aid to influence the quality of food served by the nation's concert venues. The organization has proven that family-farm food can be produced and served at venues on a mass scale. It has served its Homegrown Concessions-branded food not only during Farm Aid concerts but also at this year's Superbowl.
Among the music business figures gathered at the event was Peter Shapiro, a partner in the Brooklyn Bowl the popular concert venue and bowling alley in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
After Jakob Dylan's performance, Farm Aid supporters and staff gathered with the singer in the upstairs bar at Haven's Kitchen. From left: Joan Dye Gussow, author, educator and food activist; Farm Aid program associate Caroline Malcolm; development director Kari Williams; executive director Carolyn Mugar; Dylan; program director Hilde Steffey; associate director Glenda Yoder; and communications director Jennifer Fahy. (Photo Copyright: Ebet Roberts)
Capturing images during the evening was Ebet Roberts , one of the world's most renowned rock'n'roll photographers, who has documented Farm Aid concerts and events since 1985.
Among those enjoying the evening's performance was Jack Rovner, a principle in Vector Management, who manages Jakob Dylan.
Dylan's career has included critically praised albums with the Wallflowers -- including the 1996 breakthrough Bringing Down The Horse, and the hit singles "6th Avenue Heartache" and "One Headlight" - and his solo albums Seeing Things in 2008 and Women + Country in 2010. The latter debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard 200.
Given such success, there's little reason to evoke the name of the singer's famed father in reporting on Jakob Dylan's performance for Farm Aid - except for this historical link.
Back in 1985, at the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia for African famine relief, it was Bob Dylan who remarked from the stage: "Wouldn't it be great to do something for our own farmers right here in America?"
Willie Nelson took up that challenge and ran with it. Jakob Dylan now supports Farm Aid. And the circle remains unbroken.
After the evening's set, Rover noted that Jakob Dylan has reformed the Wallflowers, and the group has signed with Columbia Records.
And when will the new Wallflower's album arrive?
"September," said Dylan, as he mingled with Farm Aid donors after his show. "I'm going home to do some mixing."