Neil Young bows out of Farm Aid benefit concert over COVID-19 concerns

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Neil Young is backing out of next month's Farm Aid festival in Hartford, Conn., over COVID-19 concerns.

The Canadian folk singer shared a message on his website explaining his decision to withdraw from the annual benefit concert to support U.S. farmers.

Young writes that he feels it would be wrong to risk people dying or spreading COVID-19 to unvaccinated children by attending the concert.

The Omemee, Ont.-raised musician was slated to take the stage alongside Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews at the Sept. 25 festival.

Young says he respects his fellow Farm Aid board members' decisions to proceed with the sold-out performance.

He's the latest headliner to step down from the stage as the Delta variant drives up COVID-19 case counts, with Stevie Nicks and Garth Brooks cutting their tours short over similar concerns.

"My soul tells me it would be wrong to risk having anyone die because they wanted to hear music and be with friends," Young wrote.

"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 co-founded the Farm Aid festival with Nelson and Mellencamp in 1985. The benefit grew into an annual event that takes place in a different state each summer.

However, Young noted that his opinion on moving forward with this year's concert is quite different than his longtime friends.

"While I respect Willie, John and Dave's decisions to stick with it and play, I am not of the same mind," he added.

"It is a tough call."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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