Neil Young took to his Archives website on Wednesday to announce his withdrawal from Farm Aid 2021, taking place next month in Hartford, Connecticut.
Young, who is a Farm Aid board member alongside Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews, explained that he’s pulling out of the sold out benefit due to the recent Covid-19 outbreaks caused by the Delta variant. “Lots is going on in our world right now,” he wrote. “I find myself wondering whether Farm Aid will be safe for everyone with the Covid pandemic surging. I worry about that. I don’t want to let anybody down, but still can’t shake the feeling that it might not be safe for everyone.”
“All you people who can’t go to a concert because you still don’t feel safe, I stand with you,” he continued. “I don’t want you to see me playing and think it’s safe now. I don’t want to play until you feel safe, and it is indeed, safe. My soul tells me it would be wrong to risk having anyone die because they wanted to hear music and be with friends…no matter where you are, I am with you. Do what you must, but think it through. We will be back. There is much work to do together.”
The September 25th event was slated to be Young’s first public performance since the 2019 Farm Aid at Wisconsin’s Alpine Valley Music Theatre. His decision makes him the latest musician to cancel their return to the stage, including Stevie Nicks, Garth Brooks, and more. Other acts and festivals have enforced new mandates of vaccination proof or a negative Covid test upon entry, from Jason Isbell to Dead and Company.
“Since we know vaccinated people can catch and spread Covid, I worry about the children who could become infected after Farm Aid, just by being with someone, maybe a parent, who caught the virus at Farm Aid and didn’t know it,” Young added. “There are already too many children in hospitals. While I respect Willie, John and Dave’s decisions to stick with it and play, I am not of the same mind. It is a tough call.”