Sunday, July 04, 2010

Farm Aid 2

On July 4, 1986, my high school pal Alex Botas and I trekked up Highway 290 from Houston to Austin for Farm Aid 2. Willie Nelson's benefit concert for America's family farmers was originally slated to take place at UT's Memorial Stadium. Then they announced it would be held at Southpark Meadows. Finally, the show landed at Manor Downs, a dilapidated horse racing track that offered little in the way of amenities.

At 17, I hadn't yet discovered that sitting in a shadeless, dusty field in 100-degree heat with 50,000 people is no way to enjoy music. I remember we had a cooler stocked with cans of root beer, but they wouldn't let us bring in cans, so we just poured the root beer into the cooler and ladled it out with paper cups. We didn't think to bring food, blankets or sunscreen. A nice lady in her thirties found us pitiable enough to donate a couple of sandwiches from her well-stocked cooler to our lost cause.

We got there in time to see Willie join War for a round of "Why Can't We Be Friends?" and stuck around through the fallow rock jam session led by Bon Jovi. I should've known it was going to be anti-climatic when Don Johnson was drafted to introduce everyone. Joe Walsh meandered through an unsteady "Rocky Mountain Way" before Motley Crue's first-string drunk driver Vince Neil showed up to sing "Smokin' in the Boys Room" while Willie and his longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael played along just for fun.

If you think the TV clip below sounds bad, imagine how it sounded a quarter mile away from the stage.

After four or five hours, we gave up and drove into Austin to watch the rest of the show on TV in a cheap motel room.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Wow...this is one of those instances where you have to keep reminding yourself: "It's for charity, it's for charity..."

Is that Walsh with the pink shirt and Steinberger behind Neil? He looks like he can barely stand up.