AXS TV will bring Farm Aid to market this Saturday in the way to which all performers have had to become accustomed: at home. Farm Aid’s four foremost board members — Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews — will join together, separately, to perform live April 11 at 8 p.m./5 PT for “At Home with Farm Aid,” a special hosted by Nelson and his sons Lukas and Micah.
Besides the cable network itself, the hour-long broadcast can be seen at www.farmaid.org, along with AXS TV’s social media platforms.
The broadcast, like its decades of in-person antecedents, is a benefit for family farmers, with a special emphasis on how the coronavirus crisis is affecting independent growers during the pandemic.
“The coronavirus has disrupted our entire country and is a grave threat to all of us,” said Nelson, who serves as Farm Aid’s president, in a statement. “One of its many impacts is that it has helped us to better see the value of essential people like healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, delivery truck drivers, and farmers and ranchers. Farm Aid has worked for 35 years to build a family farm centered agricultural system, and we are here now to support farmers and ranchers in this crisis, without whom we could not eat. The time to build a resilient family farm food system is now.”
Several of the performers have already been among the most visible artists making use of computer and smartphone screens for concerts, as live music has become the exclusive province of iPad cameras and living rooms. Nelson and his sons previously hosted a day-long Luck Family marathon from Texas, Matthews premiered a new Verizon-sponsored “Pay It Forward” series with a solo set, and Young has done fireside concerts on his Neil Young Archives site.
The Farm Aid special ties in with AXS TV’s “@Home And Social” initiative, which finds the network joining other platforms in looking to broadcast live performances directly from artists’ homes, with the goal of benefitting those hit hard by the COVID-19 health crisis and business shutdowns.
Fans still hankering for something more electrified and rocking aren’t out of luck. Reruns from the days when bands still walked the earth are in order, too, as AXS TV presents “The Best of Farm Aid 2019” the following night, Sunday, April 12, at 8 ET/5 PT. That two-and-a-half-hour special includes selected highlights from last year’s sets by Yola, Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Tanya Tucker and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. The network also promises a previously unaired performance of Bonnie Raitt singing “Devil Got My Woman” as part of that broadcast.
“With COVID-19 putting the farming industry to the ultimate test, it’s our turn to give back,” said Sarah Weidman, AXS TV’s head of original programming, development and multi-platform content. She said the music-focused network “is proud to continue our partnership with Farm Aid to bring our viewers this incredible event, hosted by four of rock, country and folk’s most influential icons. We hope that it will provide some much-needed entertainment during this time, while also informing people everywhere of the crisis impacting our farmers, the essential services farmers bring us, and what people can do to help.”