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  • John Geiger

Farm Aid 2023 Captivated Farmers And Fans In Indiana

"Farm Aid: A Concert for Earth and Farmers" embodied its core mission in a captivating event on Saturday, September 23rd, at the Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana. This year marked the 38th annual gathering, where the festival's guiding board members – Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Margo Price, and the returning Neil Young – led a musical spectacle like no other. Farm Aid 2023 captivated farmers and fans in Indiana.

Neil Young's return to the Farm Aid stage was a long-awaited moment after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His acoustic set, which commenced with "Comes A Time" and closed with the timeless song "Heart of Gold," marked a poignant and soulful reentry.

Neil Young live at Farm Aid 2023
Neil Young live at Farm Aid 2023

The festival's co-headliners, including the surprise late-night appearance by the legendary Bob Dylan with the Heartbreakers, delivered a night of unforgettable performances. Dylan's presence held special significance as he had planted the seed for Farm Aid's inception back in 1985 during his Live Aid performance, sparking Willie Nelson's commitment to supporting America's family farmers.

At 90 years old, Willie Nelson continues to prove that age is just a number as he headlined the event, showcasing his enduring star talent with classics like "Whiskey River" and a heartwarming rendition of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." His performance was both musically powerful and filled with the humor that has defined his incredible life.

John Mellencamp live at Farm Aid 2023
John Mellencamp live at Farm Aid 2023

John Mellencamp, a native of Indiana, took pride in bringing Farm Aid back to his home state. His set, packed with hits, included the poignant "Rain on the Scarecrow," a reflection on the plight of displaced farmers that resonated with the festival's enduring mission.

Farm Aid has a rich history in Indiana, with memorable past events like Farm Aid IV in 1990 and Farm Aid 2001: A Concert for America, which took place just weeks after the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Beyond the music, Farm Aid continues to lead the way in hosting environmentally sustainable live music events. The festival featured organic cotton T-shirts, farming and environmental demonstrations, and a variety of locally sourced food options. Volunteers worked diligently to ensure food waste was composted, aligning with the festival's commitment to sustainability.

Dave Matthews live at Farm Aid 2023
Dave Matthews live at Farm Aid 2023

Dave Matthews stood out with his acoustic guitar duets, showcasing sonic magic with fellow musician Tim Reynolds. As the sun set over the Indiana cornfields surrounding the amphitheater, Matthews performed "Virginia in the Rain" and emphasized the farmers' dedication to the planet and community, contrasting it with the profit-driven conventional farming system.

Collaborations were a constant highlight, with artists seamlessly joining each other on stage. Allison Russell, Lukas Nelson, Kyshona, Bob Weir, Margo Price, and Sturgill Simpson created

unforgettable moments, reminding everyone that Farm Aid is more than just a concert: it's a collaborative effort to support family farmers with music and camaraderie.

Margo Price live at Farm Aid 2023
Margo Price live at Farm Aid 2023

Willie Nelson's vision from over a decade ago still rings true today: "We started out to save the family farmer. Now it looks like the family farmer is going to save us." In a time of climate crisis, regenerative farming practices offer hope, and Farm Aid continues to champion this cause.

Margo Price eloquently summed up the interconnectedness of the climate crisis and food crisis, emphasizing the role each person plays with every dollar spent. Neil Young echoed this statement, stressing the importance of people supporting farmers for real change to occur.

In the end, Neil Young reminded the crowd that Farm Aid isn't just an event; it's a collective effort. "Farm Aid is you," he declared, reinforcing the idea that it's the people who hold the power to make a difference and support the essential cause of family farmers.

Purchase music by Willie Nelson from Indy CD & Vinyl HERE.

Purchase music by Neil Young from Indy CD & Vinyl HERE.

Purchase music by Margo Price from Indy CD & Vinyl HERE.

Purchase music by Dave Matthews from Indy CD & Vinyl HERE.

Purchase music by Nathaniel Rateliff from Indy CD & Vinyl HERE.

Purchase music by John Mellencamp from Indy CD & Vinyl HERE.

Purchase music by Lukas Nelson from Indy CD & Vinyl HERE.

Purchase music by Sturgill SImpson from Indy CD & Vinyl HERE.

Photos and Review by John Geiger for Indy CD & Vinyl

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