Singer/Songwriter Neil Young blasted concert promoters for continuing to stage shows as the pandemic rages, calling them “super-spreader events” and “irresponsible Freedom Fests” in a post on his website. Young recently pulled out of September’s Farm Aid, scheduled for September 25 in Hartford, Connecticut.
The 75 year old, who became an American citizen in 2020 but retained his Canadian citizenship, railed against the “American way” that has kept live entertainment operatons going since widespread restrictions on in-person attendance were lifted earlier this year as vaccination efforts ramped up. He also lauded Garth Brooks and other artists who have opted to pull the plug on scheduled shows rather than press on. Rather than individual artists, Young’s screed was directed at massive promoters for putting profit over safety.
The big promoters, if they had the awareness, could stop these shows,” he wrote under the headline “CONCERTS AND COVID” on neilyoungarchives.com. “WIthout that, everyone just keeps going like everything is OK. It’s not. Live Nation, AEG and the other big promoters could shut this down if they could just forget about making money for a while…. They control much of the entertainment business. They hold the power to stop shows where thousands congregate and spread. It’s money that keeps it going. Money that motivates the spreading. The big promoters are responsible for super spreaders.”
“These giants of entertainment just renovated a lot of old venues and spent a lot of cash to do that,” he continued. “Now they can’t stop selling tickets to pay for it. Money and business. That doesn’t make this OK. It’s a bad example. Folks see concerts advertised and think it must be OK to go and mingle. It’s not. These are super-spreader events, irresponsible Freedom Fests. We need Freedom to be safe. Not a bad example. This could be just the beginning.”
The tone was much harsher than his post announcing his departure from the Farm Aid lineup, posted less than a week earlier, particularly as pertains to artists who have chosen to continue holding the event itself. “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,” he wrote on August 18.
“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.”
Young is one of the original founders of Farm Aid and remains on its board of directors.