Synopses & Reviews
A celebration of Farm Aid's 20th anniversary-a beautifully designed treasure documenting the struggles and contributions of family farmers in America and the more than 200 American artists who have played on the Farm Aid stage.
When Willie Nelson organized the first Farm Aid concert in 1985, he hoped it would be a one-time event that would ensure the continued survival of the national treasure upon which our country was founded: the independent family farmer.
But two decades later, the nation is still losing an average of 330 family farms per week. And the annual Farm Aid concert, which has helped to raise more than $26 million to keep family farmers on their land, is now the longest running benefit concert in history. To commemorate this landmark and to call renewed attention to the importance of where, how, and by whom our food is produced, Farm Aid has put together this volume.
Essays, interviews, poems, song lyrics, and fictional excerpts mix with more than 200 color and black-and-white photographs, including shots of farmland and farmers, as well as never-before-seen pictures of Farm Aid performers, from the late Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison to Bob Dylan and Bonnie Raitt. Among the many contributors are writers Eric Schlosser and Howard Zinn; performers Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris; photographers Paul Natkin and Ebet Roberts; and Farm Aid board members Neil Young, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, and Willie Nelson.
Starred Review in the September issue of Booklist
*STAR*Farm Aid: A Celebration of the American Family Farm. Ed. by Holly George-Warren. Sept. 2005. 256p. illus. index. Rodale, $35 (1-59486-285-0). 781.64.
Twenty years ago, Willie Nelson decided to have an all-star, open-air concert to call attention to the plight of American family farmers, then being squeezed off the land in record numbers by low commodity prices and high short-term indebtedness. In less than a month, the first Farm Aid concert occurred, and a long-term support system was born. The most impressive organizational fact in this lavish, compelling overview is that Farm Aid has only seven employees, not counting any of the musicians and technicians involved in the concerts, who all donate their work. The most impressive revelation about Farm Aid for most readers will probably be the range of work by and on behalf of farmers that it supports between concerts. Spot cash relief for families too strapped to buy groceries, crisis counseling for farmers who lose hope and even the will to live, financial advice and political advocacy, efforts to foster organic farming and cooperation and understanding between farmer and eater (the latter word is strongly preferred to the cold, economic label consumer), encouragement of local specialty farming (i.e., of particular varieties of a food crop)--Farm Aid backs all this and more, and working farmers and writers including Wendell Berry and Jim Hightower discuss it here. Filling out one of the meatiest, most satisfying books of the year are long interviews with Farm Aid musician-directors Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews; sidebars about repeat Farm Aid concert performers, staff, and attendees; poems and song lyrics about farming; and hundreds of pictures, the large majority in color. --Ray Olson
"...for midwesterners, the supper club is an epicenter for social eating, a locally owned roadhouse where families repair for an evening to treat themselves to a hearty meal with friends and neighbors... Hoekstra relates the stories of a number of these institutions, their owners, and the people who have frequented them over the past half-century. He holds out hope for their future, noting how some are evolving in new directions, safeguarding local traditions in the face of competition from national chains. Photographs of both restaurateurs and their clientele preserve a sense of a passing era."—Booklist
A celebration of Farm Aid's 20th anniversary documents the struggles and contributions of family farmers in America and the more than 200 American artists who have played on the Farm Aid stage. Two decades later, the nation is still losing an average of 330 family farms per week.
The supper club of the Upper Midwest is unmistakably authentic, as unique to the region as great lakes, cheese curds, and Curly Lambeau. The far-flung locations and creative decor give each supper club a unique ambience, but the owners, staff, and regulars give it its personality. Author Dave Hoekstra traveled through farmland, woods, towns, and cities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and Illinois, eating at salad bars, drinking old fashioneds, and most of all talking to old-timers, local historians, and newcomers. He discovered that far from going the way of so many small establishments, supper clubs are evolving, combining contemporary ideas such as locavore menus and craft beer with traditional Friday night fish fries and Saturday prime rib. He brings to life the memorable people who have created and continue the tradition, from the blind dishwasher at Smokys to the Dick Watson Combo playing “Beyond the Sea” at the Lighthouse and the entrepreneurs and hipster crowd behind the Old Fashioned. Corporations have defined mainstream eating habits in America, but characters define supper clubs, and this combination oral history and guide, with more than one hundred photographs, celebrates not only the past and present but the future of the supper club.
About the Author
is an award-winning writer and editor, whose works include The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats, American Roots Music
, and Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues
. She currently resides in upstate New York.
DAVE HOEKSTRA, a Chicago Sun-Times columnist, co-produced the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary The Civil Rights Movement and the Staple Singers. He currently resides in Chicago, Ilinois.