One has to wonder after reading a story in the current Pitch under the headline, "Does Farm Aid Still Matter?"
After breezing through the David Martin puff piece I still can’t find the answer to the local alt rag’s question.It must be yes though, since nowhere does Martin come close to dropping the hammer on the "charity" concert schmooze.
Not a single tough question was asked. Not how much money is raised, how much goes to actual charity, etc.
Nope, just a brief history of the event which can largely be found on Wikipedia. And that "a representitive from the Farm Aid…recently went to the White House" and "The Missouri Rural Crisis Center continues to receive grants."
Pretty thin. So allow me to do Martin’s work for him.
As in taking a gander at Farm Aid’s most recent available-to-the-public tax filing. Martin reports the first Farm Aid "raised more than $9 million."
Impressive, especially in 1985 dollars
Had Martin bothered to check though, he’d have learned that the gross income for the 2009 Farm Aid had plummeted to $1,229,577 – in 2009 dollars – bringing only $333,330 to the bottom line.
Which was distributed to around 20 organizations, including the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, which got $15,000.
So does Farm Aid still matter? Yes and no. But clearly it doesn’t come close to mattering like it once did.
A fact that went unreported in the Pitch, even after it posed the question.
Now let’s take it a step further and ask if Farm Aid still matters from an artistic standpoint?
Having looked over the numbers, I think you can guess the answer. Not really.
It’s a middling, annual festival hanging onto the coatails of it’s four lead amigos – Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews – 26 years after the fact.
In addition to the above artists, Farm Aid 2011 in KCK includes Jason Mrza, Jamey Johnson, Jakob Dylan, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Robert Francis, Will Daily & the Rivals, Rebecca Pidgeon and Billy Joe Shaver.
Hardly a stellar lineup…
Now take a look at the Farm Aid One’s lineup:
Alabama, Hoyt Axton, The Beach Boys, The Blasters, Bon Jovi, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, David Allan Coe, John Conlee, Charlie Daniels Band, John Denver, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Foreigner, Vince Gill, Arlo Guthrie, Sammy Hagar, Merle Haggard, Daryl Hall, Emmylou Harris, Don Henley, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Randy Newman, George Jones, Rickie Lee Jones, B. B. King, Carole King, Kris Kristofferson, Huey Lewis, Loretta Lynn, John Mellencamp, Roger Miller, Joni Mitchell, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Charley Pride, Bonnie Raitt, Lou Reed, Kenny Rogers, Brian Setzer, Sissy Spacek, Tanya Tucker, Eddie Van Halen, Debra Winger, Neil Young, Dave Milsap, Joe Ely, Judy Rodman, X
So, I pose this question to Martin and the Pitch, only because I’m still curious:
Does Farm Aid Still Matter?