“The things we’re talking about here are all about power. It’s all about corporations telling us what to do,” said Farm Aid co-founder Neil Young at this year’s kickoff at the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh, N.C.
For three decades, Farm Aid has fought against corporate control of America’s food supply in support of family farmers, and the annual benefit is the longest-running concert for a cause in pop-music history. Farm Aid’s guiding foursome of Young, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews returned with an all-day lineup that offered styles as diverse as the roar and twang of guitarist Jack White, the alt-pop Americana of North Carolina’s Delta Rae and the sass and brass of Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The event was also something of a family affair, with Nelson adding his sons’ bands — Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real and Micah‘s Insects vs Robots — as well as his granddaughter’s Raelyn Nelson Band to the bill.
During her speech, Farm Aid executive director Carolyn Mugar aligned the organization’s mission with the civil rights movement. “Civil rights activists have become examples for all of us, in how to organize and work. We all felt that we could not come to this region that has such a profound history without taking note.”