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NELSON OPTIMISTIC ABOUT FARM-AID II

<i> From United Press International </i>

Willie Nelson said Tuesday he expects FarmAid II to be much bigger than the original concert last September in Illinois that generated about $9 million for the farmers’ cause.

“We have no goal money-wise,” he said during a news conference at the University of Texas’ Memorial Stadium. “A hundred billion dollars would be nice, but we’ll take anything up to that.”

FarmAid II will be staged in conjunction with Nelson’s annual July 4 picnic in the Texas capital.

“FarmAid II we hope to be much bigger than FarmAid I, and we’re proud to have it here at the University of Texas stadium, and we’re proud to combine it with the Fourth of July picnic and the Sesquicentennial celebration we’re having this year,” he said.

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Nelson said he had no idea how much money FarmAid II might raise, but he said he expects more than 90,000 people to jam Memorial Stadium.

Tickets, which will be $20 each, will go on sale in about a week or 10 days.

Nelson said he expects many of the same performers who appeared at the original FarmAid at the University of Illinois at Champaign to perform at FarmAid II.

“We’ve written all of the 58 acts that appeared last year and invited them to Austin,” he said. “So far, we’ve heard from a lot of them.”

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Among those who have confirmed their appearances, he said, are John Cougar Mellencamp, Neal Young, Huey Lewis, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Emmy Lou Harris.

“All the folks from my side of the music field, we’re going to try to get them down here,” he said.

Nelson also said “Miami Vice” star Don Johnson is putting together a band and will perform.

The concert will be televised live from start to finish by VH1, a music cable network. Selected rock acts will also be televised by MTV.

FarmAid II is being officially sponsored by the Texas Agriculture Department, an official sponsorship needed to gain use of the university stadium. But Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower said the state would bear no costs of the concert.

Nelson said of the roughly $9 million raised last year, a “little over $4 million” has been spent on food pantry programs, legal assistance to farmers, farm crisis hot lines and endowments to Future Farmers of America.

But he said additional money is needed to bring the farmers’ plight to the attention of Congress.

“The more attention we can draw to it, the better chance of getting legislation passed,” he said.

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