Farm Aid 2021: Who’s Still Performing After Neil Young Drops Out

by Suzanne Halliburton

Neil Young, one of the founders of Farm Aid, dropped out of the mega-concert earlier this month. So who is left to sing?

Well, is Willie Nelson enough of a headliner? Or John Mellencamp? How about Dave Matthews?

Nelson, who is expected to perform at Farm Aid 2021 next month in Connecticut, is already back on the road. The 88-year-old opened the first of 14 stops for the Outlaw Music Festival last Sunday in Austin. However, in order to attend the festival, fans needed to show proof of a Covid-19 vaccine or evidence of a negative test for the virus.

That’s the same requirement for Farm Aid. The music festival recently tweaked its list of performers and posted it on Instagram. The caption said: “Dear fans, regretfully we have a festival update: Neil Young will not appear at Farm Aid 2021 due to COVID concerns.”

Neil Young Pulled Out of Farm Aid Because He Didn’t Want to Risk Fans Dying

Neil Young announced he was pulling out of Farm Aid on Aug. 19. The 75-year-old wrote about his reasons:

“All you people who can’t go to a concert because you still don’t feel safe, I stand with you,” Young said. “I don’t want you to see me playing and think it’s safe now. I don’t want to play until you feel safe, and it is indeed, safe.

“My soul tells me it would be wrong to risk having anyone die because they wanted to hear music and be with friends,” said Young, who is on the Farm Aid board. “No matter where you are. I am with you. Do what you must, but think it through. We will be back. There is much work to do together.”

FThe 36th annual arm Aid is scheduled for Sept. 25 at Xfinity Theater in Hartford, Conn. Concerts can be either indoors or outside at the venue. Farm Aid is supposed to be an outdoor event. A year ago, it needed to go virtual because the world was in the throes of the pandemic. Although there now is a vaccine, the Delta variant is making most of the country a Covid hotspot.

Concert Already is Sold Out With Willie Nelson As Top Billing

Farm Aid tickets went on sale, July 23, and are already sold out.

Willie Nelson and his family are receiving the top billing at Farm Aid. Nelson probably gave a preview of his set in Connecticut with his performance in Austin. He sang for an hour, with his set including Whiskey River, On the Road Again, Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground, and Always on My Mind. Bobby, his 90-year-old sister, played the piano.

Lukas Nelson also performed with his dad and performed a couple of his own songs. All the acts got together for the traditional gospel ending. They sang Will the Circle Be Unbroken and I’ll Fly Away.

John Mellencamp still is featuring the Farm Aid banner on his home site. And while Nelson is bringing his family, so is Mellencamp. Ian Mellencamp, John’s nephew, is expected to perform in Connecticut.

Meanwhile, Dave Matthews currently is in Lexington, Kentucky, to perform at the Railbird Festival. He has many concert stops before he lands in Connecticut for Farm Aid.