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Farm Aid 2018 provided a stellar lineup of entertainment this year. The festival took place at the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut on Sept. 22. This was a stacked lineup with one act leading into the next. It went like clockwork.

Farm Aid is about much more than entertainment. The natural disasters over the last few years caused tremendous hardships on family farmers. Each area in the United States face unique incredible challenges and Farm Aid is there to give a helping hand. Farm Aid has been in existence for 33 years for this purpose.

24,000 tickets were sold for today’s event. The day was filled with activities, demonstrations and food provided by the local farmers.

1) The day started with a rowdy press conference

Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and several of the local family farmers conducted a pre-show press conference to discuss present-day challenges.

Mellencamp essentially “stole the show” with his impassioned remarks regarding the increasing lack of government support. When asked what inspired writing the song “Rain on the Scarecrow” and how does it feel to have so much work left to do after 33 years with the political forces working against us?

Mellencamp responded, “This country is changed by the men we admire and the admiration is bullsh*t now. We are having the farmers deal with some madman’s idea to change the trade habits and think that the government is going to subsidize millions of dollars to help these farmers. Well, f**k that.”

“The money is going to the big farms and the people of South Carolina that are trying to have a small farm aren’t going to get sh*t. Welcome to Suckerville. We take it and I’m sick of taking it myself. Excuse my language, but I’m pissed off.”

Mellencamp continued his rant for another five minutes. His final message was “the only way to do something about the situation is to go out and vote.” Mellencamp quoted a lyric from one of his songs, “You got to stand for something or you will fall for anything.” Mellencamp got overwhelming applause with his remarks.

Neil Young added the suggestion that there is something you can do in addition to voting. “When you are driving down the street and you see a farmer’s stand, you should never pass a farmers market without going in and taking part in humanity. You can’t drive by it anymore. You have to go in and you have to buy something. It’s a no-brainer to have a great economy if you sell all the jewels, all of the good stuff.”

Young continued, “America is already great. If you vote, vote for whom you believe in. If you believe in Trump, vote for him. If you don’t believe in him, vote him out. I respect you for voting.”

2) Willie Nelson opened the concert

The entertainment of the day began soon after the press conference with Nelson singing an acapella version of “The Lord’s Prayer” with the Wisdom Dancers. It was short, but a very passionate performance followed by the Native American Wisdom Dancers. Nelson kept the gospel music going later during his set with a gospel medley of ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away.” Those entertainers joining him was Lukas Nelson, Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff, David Amran, Ian Mellencamp, Neil Young and the Nelson ‘family.’

3) Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real delivered an exceptional set

Nelson is on fire these days. He was very much involved in the remake of A Star is Born. He wrote a significant amount of the music in the film as well as having an acting role.

The set was far too short, but included “Entirely Different Stars,” “Find Yourself,” and “”(Forget About) Georgia.” Nelson is becoming one of the new generation’s guitar heroes.

4) Jamey Johnson is one of the most underrated performers in country music

This was Johnson’s 11th year performing at Farm Aid. In the past, he has brought his full band. This time, it was Johnson and his guitar. Johnson has a rich baritone voice that raises the hair on your arm. Add his amazing guitar chops and you have a mesmerizing performance. One has wonder why Johnson is not a household name like many of his contemporaries.

Johnson’s set was also too short, yet so delicious. Song offerings included “High Cost of Living,” “In Color,” and a remarkable cover of “Rainy Night In Georgia.”

5) Kacey Musgraves came with songs from her great new album

Musgraves made her third appearance at Farm Aid armed with her self-penned album, Golden Hour. Musgraves seemed more confident with this performance than witnessed in the past. She and the band always dress coordinated for the occasion.

Six songs from the new album included “Slow Burn,” “Butterflies,” “Velvet Elvis,” and Love Is a Wild Thing.” Musgraves is a talent with a bright future.

6) Sturgill Simpson offered a jam lover musical bliss

Simpson took the stage with little fanfare as he and the band started playing a raw five-song set. They tore through the set with songs that segued one into another. There was no banter from Simpson, just rocking music.

The compositions included “Brace for Impact (Live a Little),” “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” “It Ain’t All Flowers,” “Going Down,” and “Call to Arms.” It was a powerful guitar goodness set.

7) Neil Young and Promise of the Real deliver songs from the past and present

One never knows what Neil Young is going to perform at Farm Aid each year. It could be an acoustic set or electric guitar driven. Guessing what Neil will do keeps Farm Aid fresh and interesting.

Young continues to have all the passion for Farm Aid that is needed to spread the message. He reminded the fans to stop at a farmers market when you see one and buy something. [Set List]

The concert was a musical banquet and sensory overload. This was in a good way. Ian Mellencamp, Margo Price, Particle Kid, Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds, and John Mellencamp had superb sets as well. The final message from the entertainers was to vote.