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Farm Aid Returns For 22nd Year

NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Farm Aid celebrated its 22nd birthday this year when the iconic benefit festival arrived at Randall's Island in New York City.

Randall's Island, a small strip of land in the East River may seem like an unusual place to stage a festival to benefit American family farms. Festival organizer Willie Nelson addressed that issue during a press conference before the event, telling reporters that "Some people thought that bringing Farm Aid to New York was a bold move, nut there is good reason to invite urban Americans to appreciate the tastes of food grown close to home. People can keep family farmers on the land with their good food choices."

Nelson, along with the three other Farm Aid board members, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews also serve as headliners for the event. Joining them in performing this year were Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Billy Joe Shaver, Tim Reynolds, Gregg Allman, The Allman Brothers Band, Counting Crows, Matisyahu, Guster, The Derek Trucks Band, Warren Haynes, Supersuckers, The Ditty Bops, Montgomery Gentry, Jimmy Sturr, Danielle Evin, Jesse Lenat, Pauline Reese, Paula Nelson, and 40 Points.

By all accounts, the concert remained fairly free of politics with just a few comments from Neil Young and John Mellencamp. That appeared to be a winning strategy with seemingly restive fans. According to a review in Billboard, the insinuation of political content was met with disapproval by fans, with Mellencamp reportedly being booed by a few fans, during his anti-Bush rework of "To Washington" and Neil Young being told by a boisterous audience member to "just sing, Neil" when he was addressing the crowd about the importance of supporting family farms.

Despite these isolated incidents, the fans were reportedly well-pleased by the musical fare, mostly of the acoustic variety with board members, according to the Billboard review frequently joining other performers on stage.

The show will serve as good warm up for Young who is preparing to head out for a tour of the US this fall in support of his new album, "Chrome Dreams II," which is due in stores this October. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers