Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Peach Queen and an Artist Back from the Dead

So Amber was such a peach really. Pun intended. I definitely want to hook her up with an internship after her reign as a peach queen.

Sadly some big internet news providers had announced that Jerry Lee Lewis was no longer with us. But you can clearly see that he is definitely alive and kicking and rocking! The backstage was filled with people all trying to get a glimpse of him on stage.

Willie has been making the rounds as well. When Willie comes throught the back lot and stage, people part like the red sea. Charlton Heston, move over baby. Here comes Willie.

Also I was able to interview Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer’s sister. I felt like an idiot because I didn’t know that. I felt like Joan Rivers on the red carpet, the only difference is that I care when I mess up and associate someone incorrectly.

On the top of everything, I find out that during the Webcast I kept saying we were cutting to a Danielle Evin clip when production cut to Pauline Reese. Please know, I would have never mixed up these divas — they are so different. But there is a lot going on back here…and we are human at Farm Aid…if your prick us do we not bleed….red….white and blue.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Mikey Azzara. His mission is to change the school lunch program and its education around food. He is amazing. And he definitely is a young farmer to watch out for. He and the other young farmers we have met are the faces of farming, now and the future.

Dave is on stage now. The crowd is on their feet. People are shoving to get a side stage view. I have been actually pushed over….the computer is ok, but my ego is not. These are some serious fans.

Wendy Says Dave is Supposed to Be Up Next

It's what I've heard-don't have a confirmation but I think you will see him soon!

Wendy Answers Another Question

For those of you who have asked about the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, we are hoping to play them during the set changes. Right now it's Danielle Evin and I'm expecting during the next set change we will have time for other bands from earlier in the day.

Ryan Wonders Where to Begin

For those of you viewing the Webcast, you have just seen me give away tickets to nosebleed fans. I have been seriously messing up their last name. Sorry. But they are a true Pittsburgh family and were totally shocked. I even got a big hug. Katie from Farm Aid went out and found them sitting up against the fence in the farthest reaches of the lawn seats and brought them to me. They didn't know why they were here. I love this part of the hosting. I really get some great reactions and the hug was a bonus.

I also got to interview my new pal Pauline Reese. She was the first act of the concert, opening in a song with Willie Nelson. She even gave my a cool t-shirt. We have plans to meet up after the concert and catch-up over some drinks.

There has been a little bit of rain coming down on the lawn seats, but there no one is complaining. We have hit the part of the concert where heavy hitters come on. Los Lonely Boys is on now. Jerry Lee Lewis of Great Balls of Fire fame is up next. Then of course you can expect our big four to perform with guests–o-plenty.

Catering has just served dinner and the crews have been lining up to get the finest food and desserts I have ever seen at the Farm Aid concert. And, after the completion of Govt’ Mule, the whole stage switched. Every box was moved at least twice. That is why we had to move the Webcast to the other location — a behind the scenes shot of the art trailers and the antics that happen back there.

So I am backstage typing this out as people are wheeling through. I just looked up and who was standing right there… Willie Nelson. He loves Los Lonely Boys and is taking in the great show they are putting on.

So stay tuned, when I can find the time I will keep you posted.

Wendy Answers some Questions

Thanks for sending in all your questions in the comments. The beautiful blonde who played was Pauline Reese. Sorry, I can't tell you where the artists stay- confidentiality. Dave is going to be up soon. I'll see if I can get the question about his tour to him.

Ryan Says Not Enough Time

Hosting and blogging, oh my! I haven't even had time to use the bathroom. This backstage hosting is confusing. First Shelby Lynne is coming, then Govt’ Mule, then Pauline Reese. She is really nice and from what I hear,she has a large fan base watching the webcast and the blog. They sent her to find the guy that keeps changing his shirt. She gave me one of her tour t-shirts as well.

Now I'm talking with Nathan Towne of Milton, Vermont, the winner of the Farm Aid Top of the Haystack title from the web site. He submitted a photo and an essay on,"Why he was the biggest Farm Aid fan," and he won. What did he win? Airfare to the concert, free hotel (where artists are staying), the chance to work at catering and meet the stars as a volunteer, and (drumroll please) front row-center tickets! Nancy, his guest, was a new addition…recently met…but she confides that she would like a date with Dave….mmm. There might be somebody upset with that.

Ryan says he is Drowning in Mass Chaos

I have been thrown into the middle of mass chaos. Backstage, props are shifting, boxes are rolling around and equipment is being moved to and fro. I am interviewing Danielle Evin. In a prevous blog I mentioned the well-rounded talent she has. Hopefully, I can keep up with her during the interview.

I went live with my broadcast from backstage with Steve Earle. Allison Moorer was hovering just out of shot. They are doing their set as I write. They have a large fan base backstage. People are crowding around me jockeying to get a glimpse of the duo strumming and singing in romantic harmony.

The venue looks really packed. I had a few of you write to me about where you were going to be seated. I'll be coming out to you later in the evening. I have a full day of interviews, but by 10pm, I will make sure to see you all.

There is another set on the food patio where all the artists are eating. During one set, a band of Neil’s friend sang a beautiful Happy Birthday to Neil’s son. Everyone stopped eating to give a round of applause.

You may have noticed during the Webcast that my t-shirts keep changing. Well, we had the idea of showing our wide variety of Farm Aid gear. I promise I will not surprise you with a girly-tee.

Ryan On Stage

So I have moved up a bit since last year. I am sitting cross legged on the stage as Pauline Reese opens the show. There is a bit of drizzle in the air, but the Farm Aid fans have still turned out. My set for the Webcast is still in the midst of being set up, so I took a break to write a bit of the experience so far.

Earlier, at the press event, Willie, Neil, John and Dave and other artist talked about the importance of producing good food for children and families. Who better than the families themselves? Farm Aid is the union of voices both musical and radical to say the food system needs to focus more on the health of everyone by sticking to the rooted tradition of family farms, not factory farms.

So, that is my soapbox moment, I digress. Let’s talk gossip.

During the press event, Dave Matthews posed an ingenious question: "Why not create a Farm Aid TV Network – 24/7 farming and rocking?!!" It would be a cross between the family channel, the food network and CMT and VH1… all merged together for the benefits of today’s farmers. It may be a wild idea, but so was Willie's idea 21 years ago to hold a Farm Aid concert.

Allison Moorer and Steve Earle will making their appearance together. Giving the duo more time to delight the audience.

I have my line-up of interviews for the Web cast and I am delighted that currently scheduled is Govt’ Mule and Dave Matthews. But besides the artist there are a slew of behind the scenes folk that make Farm Aid happen, as well as local interests like the Peach Queen of New Jersey. I have been warned that I need to avoid peach jokes since she is under aged. Can you imagine me being thrown into jail for asking the Peach Queen lewd peach questions? That would be the pits.

Ryan Hangs with Steele Pulse and the Camden Mayor, Gwendolyn Faison

All the artists were gathered together before the press event in a small tent behind the even bigger one for the show. While hanging out for the concert to begin, I talked with the press event monitor, Chef Ann Cooper. She is a former-Executive Chef and has turned her training and commitment to creating sustainable, delicious, nutritious food for schools and kids. She was backstage along with a slew of area farmers set to bring their stories to the stage. (We will be interviewing many of these farmers during the Webcast.)


Also in the holding pen was the Mayor of Camden, a fiery woman named Gwendolyn Faison. Dressed in power red, she was ready to steal the show—which she did. She hit that stage and gave a energized welcome to Farm Aid, one like we have never seen. Camden is very lucky to have as an ambassador a mayor who throws major passion into her work.

Another artist just chillin' within the chaos was Steel Pulse's band leader David Hines. Steel Pulse, I have been told by a friend (the Island Girl), is to Reggae what Willie is to Country. They have performed various styles of music, but when it comes to a theme, the band has remained close to its mission – fighting injustice, educating the masses and promoting positive messages. Farm Aid is lucky to have their presence here today.

Dressed just like you'd imagine, David Hines, with massive locks, was ready to roll wherever he was needed. He was as chill as reggae itself. Be sure to check out their performance on the Webcast.

Ryan Meets the Artist Danielle Evin and the Mellencamp Fan Club

If I gave you Five Wishes, I bet one of them would be to meet Danielle Evin. Now, before meeting her today, I would have thought that she was just a good-looking woman. She reminded me of my Aunt Kim back in Michigan—young, tiny, and super cute, with killer eyes. But what you wouldn’t know is that she is a rising star in the music world. As the Guitar Worlds Acoustic stated, she has “Chrissy Hynde-meets-Jewel vocals.” And having heard her CD, I agree.


Danielle will be one of the early acts during today’s concert. She will be singing hits from her recently released self-entitled CD. She is a talent in full…guitar, vocal and a rocking violin. She is a well-rounded artist too, from cartoonist to sous chef, she has found her calling with her vocal mastery and talented guitar/violin skills.

Then I have been repeatedly running into the Mellencamp Camp—a crew of friendly women who are decked out in bedazzled jean jackets and autograph tattoos. These ladies can not be missed; you find them on John’s path, like hound dogs on the trail of a fox. They would agree with the fox comment. They were hanging out in the artist hotel lounge last night, swapping Mellencamp stories and these jeweled ladies were the first in the press conference tent, anxiously waiting for a glimpse at the man they love.

Ryan Talks Shop the Morning of the Concert

I was up at the crack of dawn, to run down my list of tasks for the day. It is a busy morning, even before the concert.


9:30am - I am meeting with local farmers to get to know them and what they do.


11:00am - Then off to the big press event, where the Farm Aid artists talk about why they perform at Farm Aid and why we should support small, family farms. This is always a highlight because then I get to hear the personal stories of the artists of their passion for farming. They are truly dedicated to come out this early and talk to press and local guest about their mission.


12:00Noon – Head to the bathroom for make-up. Seriously, I have been told that I need a touch-up before I get in front of the camera. I will try not to take it too personally.


12:30pm – Back to the big tent to check out the farm policy briefing that farmer advocates will be giving to those who stick around after the press event. It is important to know how policy will affect our farms.


Then the concert….


So I called last night to check in with my family back on our farm. Our family farm has been in our family since 1900 – so it's 106 year’s old. I do hope that one day I will be able to keep it thriving in our family, but fear not; today I will stick with my life here backstage.

Ryan’s T-shirt Warning and Update on Cameras

So it turns out that the Philadelphia area is a top producer of concert boot-leg t-shirts. We have encountered this before at Farm Aid. People will sell t-shirts in the parking lot, for a “cheaper” price. When really, our t-shirts are cheaper than most concert t-shirts. Plus who would you rather give your money to? A street vendor who takes advantage of charity events or Farm Aid who is working to protect the family farm? You decide.

But if you decide incorrectly your shirt will be taken away. Seriously, it turns out that there is a dedicated police presence in the venue and parking lot looking for “fake” Farm Aid shirts. I wanted to post this as a heads-up. They will take your shirt from you and you will be out the money. So, buy your shirt inside at the t-shirt booths and avoid the problem.

So the other thing that has been coming up lately are cameras. The only cameras allowed in the venue (Tweeter) are general cameras..….nothing professional with extended lens and such.

Ryan has Your Farm Aid Horoscope

Libra (24 September-23 October)
It may be Just Another Day, however it is Another Place, Another Time, meaning you Gotta Get Back to what you know best. Today you will discover your roots. You share your sign with Farm Aid artists Jerry Lee Lewis (9-29), John Mellencamp (10-7) and Shelby Lynne (10-22) as well as Farm Aid alumni artists Tiffany (10-2), Keb’ Mo (10-3), Tanya Tucker (10-10), John Mayer (10-16), and Alan Jackson (10-17).

Scorpio (24 October-22 November)
There Comes a Time when all the closets must be cleaned out. Call it an autumn cleaning project. But clearing your conscious will clean your life. You share your sign with Farm Aid artists Basil Gabbidon (10-29) of Steel Pulse, Neil Young (11-12) and Pauline Reese (11-13) as well as Farm Aid Alumni artists Bare Naked Ladies’ Ed Robertson (10-25), Keith Urban (10-26), Lyle Lovett (11-1), Joni Mitchell (11-7), and Bonnie Raitt (11-8).

Sagittarius (23 November-22 December)
You need to set your Real Emotions free in your relationship. Don’t worry about how it is taken, it will clear the air and set you on the right path. You share your sign with Farm Aid artist Ringo Garza (11-29) of Los Lonely Boys.


Capricorn (23 December-19 January)

Do you Stay or Leave the memory behind. Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes. Moving on is what you know you have to do. Live forward. You share your sign with Farm Aid artists Dave Matthews (1-9) and Steve Earle (1-17) as well as Farm Aid Alumni artists Stephen Stills (1-3), Deana Carter (1-4), and Kid Rock (1-17).


Aquarius (20 January-19 February)

You have been Waiting for a Long Time for this day to come. You decided to buy the ticket, now take the next step that is on your mind.You share your sign with Farm Aid Alumni artists Aaron Neville (1-24), Graham Nash (2-2), Axl Rose (2-6), Garth Brooks (2-7), Sheryl Crow (2-11), and Bare Naked Ladies’ Jim Creeggan (2-12).


Pisces (20 February-20 March)

After today, The Party’s Over. You have had your fun today. Now it is time to focus and get back to work. No more sick days. You share your sign with Farm Aid Alumni artists Lou Reed (3-2) and Bon Jovi (3-2).


Aries (21 March-20 April)

You may not be In the Jailhouse Now, but you are still in the doghouse. Come clean. Everybody but you wants to admit it.You share your sign with Farm Aid Alumni artists Tracy Chapman (3-30) and Loretta Lynn (4-14)


Taurus (21 April-21 May)

You find yourself On The Road Again. Change has begun in your life; find stability in your friends. Family will question your decisions and dislike the change. You share your sign with Farm Aid performing artists Willie Nelson (4-30) and Los Lonely Boys member Henry Garza (5-14) as well as Farm Aid alumni artists EmmyLou Harris (4-2), Iggy Pop (4-21), Billy Joel (5-9), and Darius Rucker (5-13)


Gemini (22 May-22 June)

Now you are Getting Somewhere. Don’t stop the progress you have begun at home. Work will remain unchanged for a bit more. You share your sign with Farm Aid performing artists JoJo Garza (6-4) of Los Lonely Boys, David Hinds (6-15) of Steel Pulse and Allison Moorer (6-21) as well as Farm Aid Alumni artists Jewel (5-23), John Fogerty (5-28), Kris Kristofferson (6-22), and Bare Naked Ladies’ Steve Page (6-22).


Cancer (23 June-23 July)

You have been Out Lasting the Blues for sometime. The time has come for you to face your fear. Take a friend and meet it head on. You share your sign with Farm Aid performing artist Arlo Guthrie (7-10) as well as Farm Aid alumni artists Bare Naked Ladies’ Kevin Hearn (7-3), and Toby Keith (7-8).

Leo (24 July-23 August)
Old Friends are the best friends. They remember you before you changed, even though it was for the good. Give that ole’ pal a call. You share your sign with Farm Aid alumni artists Martina McBride (7-29), George "Buddy" Guy (7-30), David Crosby (8-14), and Lee Ann Womack (8-19).


Virgo (24 August-23 September)

Get a Leg Up on your co-workers. It is your Last Chance to make the move and go for that promotion. You share your sign with Farm Aid alumni artists Bare Naked Ladies’ Tyler Joseph Stewart (9-21), and Julio Iglesias (9-23).

Friday, September 29, 2006

Ryan's Hunting Hay, Meeting Manson and Stalking Stars

The night before the concert is beginning to wrap up. The crew is stuffing press kits, finalizing press releases, decorating dressing rooms and getting food set for the morning breakfast. Venue staff are waxing the food court floors in anticipation of hungry Farm Aid fans.

Now, the hunt was on for more bales of hay (technically, it is "straw"). It happens every year, we hunt the area around the venue for hay to enhance the d├ęcor and inventive seating for various sites around the venue. Finding straw in Camden, however, might be an impossible task.

The stage is still full of activity prepping for sound checks. The stage is vibrating from all the bass. Guitars set—poised for a quick exchange—and Mellencamp’s band warms up on stage. He rocks out along with a test of the fog machine and glowing blue lights.

The production crews for the video feed are wiring TV’s throughout the venue, so the audience and staff can see all the action when not on stage. The stage crew is dead tired. I talked to a crew member named Manson…yes, his dad, he said was a fan (hopefully of Marilyn and not Charles!) Manson, who is sporting a Mohawk and goatee, says he is ready for the concert.

While wandering through the dressing rooms, I had the latest tidbit confirmed—sadly Arlo Guthrie will not be attending the concert tomorrow because of a last-minute health matter. We wish him a speedy recovery.

And a shout goes out to the first responder of the Farm Aid Quiz…with all the correct answers. One of her answers was even one that I didn’t have (and may need to confirm), but people around here said it was a winner. Good job Britta Lee of Menomonie, Wisconsin… it'll take a few weeks but watch the mail for your bumper sticker.

Ryan Experiences More Backstage Antics

In between sound checks, I have been sneaking around the artist trailers, trying to get the lay of the land. Since I have the right "credential", or "pass", this makes it perfectly legal for me (but not for anyone else—sorry!) The sighting of a 10-gallon hat and the smell of spicy chili makes it obvious that this, the Farm Aid concert, is a different type of event for the Tweeter Center—or at least I think so.

First, I wanted to pay homage to Willie’s bus, since it had been in the headlines lately. As I mentioned earlier, these buses and trailers are parked so tightly that it will take a surgeon to move them. This is all thanks to a gentleman named Mudslide. As buses and trailers arrive, Mudslide jumps into the drivers seat and navigates them scrape free.

The crew is busy jockeying their equipment for position backstage and prepping for the quick stage changes during the day-long sound checks. The boxes have everything from drums to special microphones.

I was walking all over the stage, pacing with some slight fear about tomorrow's Webcast. I went to the Webcast production trailer to meet the crew—Aaron, Ben, Phillip and Dave—to set my mind at ease. My fear is that my truck driver vocabulary might slip out during an interview, so I wanted to make sure the cast was somewhat time delayed. I never got that question answered because I got distracted. The crew that is in charge of the Webcast and your viewing pleasure, have a giant Staples “easy button” in the middle of their audio panels—do they really think this will work?

I was reviewing the line-up of interviews and the one I am most excited about is New Jersey’s 2006 Peach Queen. I am compiling a slew of trivia about peaches to see if she deserves this title…plus I am creating a list of peach puns for my interview for light-hearted transitions.

Ryan Made it Backstage (Finally!)

So, including a detour through downtown Camden, the trip to backstage went well. Who knew that tolls cost $5 and $3? That could have paid for some fun Farm Aid souvenirs.

But we made it!

The Tweeter Center is truly right on the waterfront, so bring a coat since there seems to always be a breeze. But it is beautiful.

The backstage is a little different than in years past. It is really small and intimate. The artist trailers are packed so tight that I think they are breeding. I swear I saw a little trailer come out of the middle.

The Farm Aid trailer, er, area is a gym that is tucked away to the right of the stage, behind the indoor food court. (By the way, there are food courts everywhere!) So we are lined up working at our tables throughout this gym. Before we used to have private trailers, but now all our twisted backstage humor will open for almost everyone to hear.

So this year we are trying something new. I will be moonlighting from my blog to host the Webcast of the concert. Make-up please!

I toured through the stage to see where I will be broadcasting from. I am directly stage right of all the acts on the stage. While tooling through backstage, I saw Neil Young, decked out in jeans and flannel. (I wasn’t kidding-it is cold!)He was hanging out with the tech crew that is setting the sound and lights for the stage. Just a few steps to his right is his equipment trailer. I have seen trailers but this one is amazing. Hardwood floors, shiny guitars and drums and walls lined with pro hockey jerseys.

The stage is decked in its Farm Aid regalia. Sound and light crew are scurrying up the rope ladders to pinpoint lights.

I also had a conversation with one of Dave Matthews’ crew that is getting ready for a sound check. He was prepping the guitars just off stage near my interview area. Then I snuck around back to take a quick peek at his sound check. Please forgive the grainy cellphone picture...but I would to prove that this is not all an figment of my warped mind.

Laura's Pink Tool Belt



Check it out! Look at me I'm totally organized and ready to go! This year's show is going to be great I can already tell. Remember I told you I had a brilliant solution- here it is my pink tool belt. There are actually 9 of us with the belts. If you are going to the show- see if you can find one of us and say "Hey!"

Ryan's Mail Call

Mail Call!

I need to answer some more questions about Tweeter and the concert that people of brought up in e-mail. One is for the lawn seat ticket holders. Do not bring camping chairs. The Tweeter site says camping chairs in bags not allowed. And they are still not allowed if they are not in the bag...waiting for the laughter to end...(yet a valid question). A low back chair is allowed (beach chair) that is no more than 9 inches off the ground.
Guests are also WELCOME to bring:
Small blankets
Small bags or backpacks
Small umbrellas, ponchos or rain coats
Snacks in (1) clear, plastic gallon sized bag (1) per person
(1) sealed bottle of water (1 liter or smaller)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ryan's Just Quizzing You

Growing up in a rural area some would say they think there is not a lot to do. But like many families in a farming community it is quite the opposite. When not doing 4-H, school extra-curricular clubs or my part-time job packing groceries, I still found time to pack my brain with tidbits of useless trivia and knowledge. In fact, like most “nerds” who like to think they know it all, I was a member of Knowledge Bowl – a high school version of Jeopardy Game Show. However, the audience would laugh when someone would get caught up in the moment and answer the poised question in the form of a question. (The host would retort with his nose in the air, the “What is?…is not necessary”.)

Anyway, this flashback came to head when doing some research for the concert. I came across some like known facts about the Farm Aid artists. Now these tidbits of Farm Aid Knowledge are your chance to get a Farm Aid bumper sticker… if you are the first one to answer all of them correctly. Send the answers via e-mail with your mailing address to me at blogger@farmaid.org. So get your Google-fingers ready!

1.Which Farm Aid artist loaned his domesticated buffalo to the set of Dances With Wolves?
2.Willie Nelson attended which University?
3.Which Farm Aid artist broke two ribs in the 90’s after a failed grape-catching trick in which he tripped over a guitar case and landed on the arm of a chair? (Always the jokester)
4. Name two movies that used Willie Nelson’s, On The Road Again, that also have the name of a color in the title of the movie.
5. The Farm Aid concert will be Camden, New Jersey. In the 1933, Camden became the location of the first __________.
6. New Jersey’s state bug is a ___________________. A farmers’ helper.
7. Which Farm Aid artist reportedly has a collection of every car they ever owned?
8.Name two cities that have hosted Farm Aid twice.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ryan says Only a Psychic can know for Sure but....

you don't have to be a Psychic to Know that you will have the time of your life.

The response from Farm Aid's Fans has been great. There seems to be one reoccuring theme in all questions and e-mails that I have recieved. Who is performing when and when does the fun of Farm Aid start?

Well, you all are not alone in this question. This being my 8th Farm Aid, it is the question that we always get, even from the artist themselves. The truth is we have a published line-up of artists, but believe it or not, the schedule is never nailed down. It really changes by the minute as plane flights are delayed, or because there are equipment transfer problems or both even. You name it, we have seen it at the concert. What has always been the case is that Willie, Neil, John and Dave usually close out the evening, but look for them earlier in the day because they always suprise us each year by randomly jumping on stage to join a musical buddy when they are inspired to rock out a set with a new artist.

The short answer to the line-up question is that your guess is as good as the stage managers. However as the plans are determinded backstage the day of the show, I will rush to publish on here a hint as to who might be playing with who and when...sounds so private investor doesn't it? (Sorry unless you have a blackberry or cell with Web access - this scoop and inside information will be lost on you on the lawn or in the seats.)

What is true fact now is that the doors open at 1pm. I suggest that you are there then. Why? Every year the hottest t-shirts are sold out within hours. We order more each year, but they are gobbled up year after year. I think the reason is that they have been become more iconic and funky. I am itching to buy a Good Food Cow one this year.

Plus, the beginning of the show has always given audience the opportunity to meet the next rock or country star. Just a few years back, Los Lonely Boy played one of the early set... then later in the coming year went on to win a Grammy. There is talent on stage every minute of the concert.

Concert starts at 1:30pm. Concert ends....well, even though we say 11pm.... most shows end when Willie is ready for them to end....expect to be out late.

Also, I would like to Welcome the Wilson Family from Eastern Ontario Canada. This will be their first Farm Aid. They are a big family of 6...Ma, Pa, and 4 kids, 21, 18, 16, 14 and Ma had the brainstorm to attend. Let me know where your seats are and I will pop over during the show and check in with you on how the experience is going. ( I also open this up to others....send me your seat number and I will come over and say hi and quote you on the blog about your experience).

They wrote to ask... "what should we expect to do about transportation, rain or food"

Transportation: I have been told is best left to public transportation... If you are staying in New Jersey, you can take NJ TRANSIT's River LINE to the Camden Waterfront. From Philadelphia, you can take the Riverlink Ferry.

Click here for driving directions(pdf)

Rain or shine we will proceed. Consult weather.com before attending. Like farmers, a little rain will never stop us from plowing ahead.

Food: There is plenty waiting for you at Tweeter. There will be booth after booth. Expect everything that would typically find at a festival or concert, plus some Organic and Farmer -Friendly foods as well. Large amounts of outside food or beverages are not allowed into the venue but you can bring a sealed bottle of water, one liter or less is permitted, water will be available for refills. Also personal snacks up to one gallon in a clear baggie are permitted. And as always, we will be having a food drive. Bring non-perishable goods to donate at the front gate.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ryan LaLonde says Take It From Me

Ryan LaLonde was Farm Aid's behind the scenes blogger last year. He is back this year and ready to answer all your questions. To send a question to Ryan send an email to blogger@farmaid.org.


The concert is quickly approaching and while there is no backstage activity to blog about just yet, there are the behind the scenes scoops as we lead up to the arrival backstage. Consider me your guide to the antics, gossip and facts of this year's Farm Aid concert. What you want to know, I will seek to answer.

Growing up in rural Michigan on my family’s farm, there was always some mischief to get into. I’d build forts in grandpa’s barn or play hide-n-seek in the neighbor’s cornfield. We grew sugar beets and soybeans (which are not crops that make for good hide-n-seek). And, the concert is no different than the farm: There is mischief to be had, and I have an all access pass, and full permission to get the scoop and report back to you.

Now I have to be honest. I am not completely knowledgeable about all the aspects of farming. I know how to drive a tractor and a few other necessities that got me by in a farming family. Our farm was a dairy farm, till the fire in 1967. This all predated me. By the time I came around, the farm had shifted to a full crop farm, with portions rented out to other farmers to extend their crops. I had aspirations of escaping the small town. In retrospect, you never really leave the farm, you take it with you where ever you go.

The same goes for music. Like most of the LaLonde’s, the tone-deaf gene is alive and kicking in me. But you don’t have to be able to sing the songs well to know that they are good and that people are enjoying them.

This is my promise: I will give you the scoop throughout the concert and keep you posted on all you want to know. Watch for special features like Farm Aid Fashion reports, Farm Aid Food reports, Artist Interviews and most importantly, the behind the scenes workings of the artists, celebrities and the concert. Take it from me, Farm Aid is an experience not to be missed.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Laura organizes the concert volunteers

“Uh, Laura? This is Donation Booth A. Umm…… Someone just threw up on the donation booth. They’re gone but their lunch is still here.”

That is a true quote from one of my volunteers. I was in a portapotty when the call came over the radio. It was a pretty raucous show and Donation Booth A won a volunteer purple heart for going way above and beyond the line of duty.

Seriously though, every year anywhere from 60 to 160 people donate their time and travel to come work at the show- and not to hang with celebrities and eat the good food- our volunteers work hard and we love them for it. In fact, the volunteers make it possible to produce the show as inexpensively as possible, meaning more money goes towards programs that keep family farmers on their land, growing delicious food for you and me.

Volunteers come from all over the country and many of them have been doing it for years. Some families use Farm Aid as an excuse for a vacation. Others have Farm Aid romances that spark up every year once their shifts are over (yes, that’s right, I saw you two behind the trailer last year!) and others are just plain die-hards.

This time of year, I pour over spreadsheets merging my list of jobs--from catering to donation booths, volunteers all over the concert operation-- and my list of who is coming. It is like a giant puzzle. I try to keep in mind families wanting to stick together, people’s strengths and their past concert experiences in order to create a schedule that will make the day run smoothly and be fun for everyone.

If you see a Farm Aid volunteer working at this year’s show, stop and say hello. Thank them for their hard work. I bet it will make their day!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ted enjoys his garden

Wow! What a fantastic day.

The garden is overrun with morning glories blooming in a tangled profusion
over the lattice fence. Scarlet runner beans share a bit of that same space,
lifting bright orange blossoms toward the sun while dripping long, bean fat
pods.

A second crop of lettuce is emerging (a bit late to be sure), and a second
crop of red raspberries bends bushes earthward. Just spotted a late cucumber
hidden among the tomatoes and the spring onions have just now come on
strong. The experimental crop of lima beans is beginning to show signs of
consumable success.

An occasional gold finch stops by to pick seed pods from what's left of the
purple cone flowers while bumble bees ravage the licorice mint.

Think I'll plant a second crop of arugula later this afternoon.

All this while Duke Ellington and John Coltrane take on "Big Nick" in
decisive fashion on the i-pod, and I sit pondering the tactics I need to
employ to distract farmers from their work long enough to lock them in for
the Farm Yard and media interviews.

Cheers!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Nahreen mails out the concert tickets

We have a wall of shame here at our office. Those who have blogged numerous
times, aren’t on the wall of shame. But those of us who have only
communicated to the outside world on one occasion have made it to the wall
of shame. That’s right, I’m here to redeem myself!
It’s been pretty crazy here in the office the last few weeks. We promised
FarmYard members we would have their tickets sent out 3-4 weeks before the
show. We decided to send tickets via FedEx Ground, that way we could track
tickets and verify delivery, while still being cost effective.
What we found out in the process of preparing over 800 ticket orders was
that most people don’t use FedEx Ground if they’re going to ship almost a
thousand envelopes. So when we spoke to FedEx, and explained what we planned
to do, they laughed. Then, told us we were crazy. And sure enough, we were
crazy. It took days. Once I had to stalk a FedEx worker. Twice I raided a
FedEx store for supplies (and got busted because they aren’t a supply store,
as they pointed out). And for three days straight Katie sat in front of her
computer printing label, after label.


But, guess what? It was worth it. Because all the tickets went out, and the
happy emails from our members are coming in! We just got an email from a
delighted FarmYarder, he said, "You guys are doing something right! Keep up
the great work." Well, that's what we're here for... to do something right!
Thanks to all you who appreciate what we're doing and help us feel good
about doing it!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wendy wonders "What's your favorite Farm Aid memory?"

Everyone remembers their first Farm Aid--I know I do. It was 1993 and I was fresh out of college when I came to work for Farm Aid. My first concert was in Ames, Iowa. I had never been backstage at a show before. I had never met a celebrity before. Yet my job was to greet the artists as they came through the green room (where they prepare before going on stage). I was so nervous about approaching any of them. Who was I compared to their celebrity?

I remember meeting Martina McBride- when she had long hair- she was so beautiful and so friendly. I think she was nervous herself. It was the first time she had played Farm Aid – and we were in a big stadium that year. She has continued to support Farm Aid in fact- if you are a FarmYard member you can check out (and buy!) a pair of Martina's pants. She autographed them and donated to Farm Aid.

I remember trying to approach Ringo Starr only to have a few members of the band Kentucky Headhunters cut in front of me. They were so excited to meet their hero. I remember seeing Dwight Yoakum talking to Lyle Lovett. And seeing Neil Young drive right past the green room in his golf cart as he headed for the stage.

At the end of the night I was exhausted and exhilarated. I couldn’t believe all the people I met.

So how about you? What’s your favorite Farm Aid moment? We really want to hear from you! To encourage you all to speak up, the 5th commentor will win a brand new Farm Aid poster from this year’s concert.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Laura’s Brilliant Solution

31 days to go. Time to start thinking very seriously about what to wear day of show. Okay. I swear this is a really important issue. We work for about 20 hours. We run around like crazy people. We solve problems. We talk to artists, donors, farmers, corporate VIPs, the press, beer line regulars and all you folks out there! What to wear is pretty complicated. It has to be professional, comfortable and versatile. Which all leads me to one point. Droopy pants are none of these things.

To be able to solve problems and keep in touch with the rest of the staff we carry around a lot of stuff. Most of us have on hand a walkie-talkie, a cell phone, a bottle of water, schedules, name lists, spare credentials, chap stick, sun screen and a snack at all times. And let me tell you, carrying all this stuff around is kind of a pain. We have tried back packs, fanny packs, pockets, cargo pants, purses, Farm Aid tote bags and suit cases. In many cases we just end up with a sore shoulder and droopy pants. Nothing really meets the holy triumvirate of criteria: Is it fashionable? Is it accessible? Does it NOT droop?

Nothing has given us a resounding YES, YES, YES until now. That’s right. I have found a brilliant solution. However, you will all have to wait until the package comes in the mail for a pic of all of us marveling at my genius.