Happy Birthday Jeff Tweedy: Wilco & Solo Farm Aid Highlights

The highlights include three Wilco performances at Farm Aid as well as a Jeff Tweedy solo appearance.

By Nate Todd Aug 25, 2021 9:41 am PDT

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy celebrates his 54th birthday today. The renowned songsmith, singer, guitarist and producer was born on August 25, 1967 in Belleville, Illinois. Tweedy found initial success with the alt-country band Uncle Tupelo in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. After Uncle Tupelo disbanded, Jeff co-founded the Chicago-based Wilco in 1994 and the group would go on to become one of the most influential and critically acclaimed rock bands of the past 30 years.

Both Uncle Tupelo and Wilco’s early days saw the bands picking up the torch set aflame by country artists like Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson who transformed the face of country music in the late 1960s and ‘70s. While it featured both rock and country acts, the Willie Nelson co-founded Farm Aid benefit concerts were certainly hotbeds for genre cross-pollination.

This rock/country genre-blending became known as alt-country in the 1990s and Uncle Tupelo and later Wilco were on the vanguard of that movement, although their punk rock leanings led them to satirize the classification, and naturally caught the eye of Farm Aid organizers with Wilco making their debut performance at the benefit in 1995. Tweedy and Wilco also hail from Chicagoland where Farm Aid has frequently been held.

To celebrate Jeff Tweedy’s birthday, JamBase takes a look at a quartet of Wilco and Tweedy solo performances from Farm Aid throughout the decades.

Wilco – Forget The Flowers | 1998

On October 3, 1998 Farm Aid took place at The New World Music Theatre in Tinley Park, Illinois. Wilco would perform a four-song set that included “Forget The Flowers” from Wilco’s 1996 album, Being There. Forget alt-country, “Forget The Flowers” is a more straightforward country number complete with twangy Fender Telecaster. The clever tune also showcases that characteristic Tweedy wit.


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Farm Aid (See 1,872 videos)
Wilco (See 99 videos)

Wilco – Airline To Heaven | 2005

On September 18, 2005, a now firmly established Wilco complete with the current lineup of Tweedy, founding bassist John Stirratt, guitarist Nels Cline, drummer Glenn Kotche, keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone returned to Farm Aid at Tinley Park where they were given a rousing introduction by then Illinois Senator Barack Obama. The band then performed “Airline To Heaven” off 2000’s Mermaid Avenue Vol. II, the second collaboration with Billy Bragg featuring songs with lyrics by the immortal champion of the worker/farmer, Woody Guthrie.


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Farm Aid (See 1,872 videos)
Wilco (See 99 videos)

Wilco – Impossible Germany | 2009

In 2009, Wilco was once again on the Farm Aid bill when it took place at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on October 4 just down the Mississippi near St. Louis. Wilco played a six-song set that included one of their finest songs, “Impossible Germany,” which couples Tweedy’s songwriting skill with Nels Cline’s singular guitar work.


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Farm Aid (See 1,872 videos)
Wilco (See 99 videos)

Jeff Solo – You Are Not Alone | 2010

A year later, Tweedy took the Farm Aid stage at Miller Park in Milwaukee as a solo act. Jeff naturally played a number of Wilco tunes but also included Mavis Staples’ “You Are Not Alone,” the title track to the legendary soul singer’s 2010 album which Tweedy produced and had just come out when he performed it at Farm Aid on October 2.


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Farm Aid (See 1,872 videos)
Jeff Tweedy (See 53 videos)
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