Farm Aid: ‘American Made’ & 1st time in Connecticut
Candid country singer Margo Price is not the biggest name in this year’s Farm Aid, which sold out in just four hours for its Saturday, Sept. 22, concert at Xfinity Theatre in Hartford. But she has the family background as well as musical chops.
In a phone chat from Nashville, where she was driving around doing errands with musician husband Jeremy Ivey, Price said she had piano lessons at age 7 and began singing for people in church and at county fairs.
“I got discovered as a country artist, but I was very into all different kinds of music growing up. Even the first 10 years in Nashville when I was trying to break through, I was playing rock ’n’ roll and folk and soul music, and country, too. But I definitely cite Neil Young (one of Farm Aid’s founders) as one of my greatest influences.”
Today she won’t shy away from touchy topics (Trump, guns, women’s rights), but says she just wants to write “good songs with memorable melodies, and honesty.”
Price and Ivey had twin sons but lost one of them as an infant to a heart ailment — leading Price to alcohol and three days in jail at one point, according to one report. The cause of family farms, meanwhile, is personal to her family and also brings an echo of loss.
“I’ve always felt a connection to Farm Aid, given that my folks and my grandparents and all of my uncles and great-uncles and their kids all lost a farm at the same time,” Price said. “It was a hard year for them, back in the early ’80s; it was ’85 when they lost their farm and, of course, I was really young but it had a huge impact on me. I remember how distraught and brokenhearted my grandparents were the day they moved out of their farmhouse.”
The benefit concert began that same year, led by Young, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, and has raised more than $53 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms, the group says. Dave Matthews (a regular at Xfinity Theatre) also hosts and performs in the event these days.
Price has done Farm Aid for the past three years and hopes to continue that streak in the future. “I love giving back to the farmers, and I think we need it now more than ever.”
Also performing at Xfinity Theatre (formerly The Meadows) will be Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Kacey Musgraves, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Lukas Nelson and others.
Price reveres the older musicians involved, of course, but also enjoys working with the younger generation, including Simpson, Stapleton and Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah (aka The Particle Kid), she said.
Fans who don’t have tickets can still see the first-time-in-Connecticut concert live, and make donations. The event will air nationally on cable channel AXS TV, SiriusXM Radio and FarmAid.org.
Price is urging such involvement amid concerns about corporate buyouts and use of GMO seeds.
“I’ve tried to keep up with everything going on in the farming industry...,” she said. “I know that farmers are dealing with a really high suicide rate. More and more people are leaving the farming life because there’s not a lot of money to be made there. And if you decide to take a more organic approach, a lot of times you end up paying more to do that.... I learn something new every year I go there.”
Price said her last album, “All American Made,” was a bit more political, but says it was only for a couple of songs and “I think because I’m a woman saying these things... it can be harder to swallow” — at least in the country genre, which can be “judgmental,” she chuckled. She is “somewhat secretive” about a new album that will feature some musical twists “but I don’t really see myself adding in a lot of electronic stuff; I don’t really plan on making pop music, that’s for sure.”
email@example.com; @Joeammo on Twitter