Below are some thoughts on how I might explain this year's headliners to my 88-year-old grandmother. I'll format each entry as if I'm talking through the list beside her. Feel free to use my suggestions, or offer your own in the comments section.
Boz Scaggs (June 9, 9:30 p.m.)
No, not Ricky Skaggs, Grandma. I know you know who Ricky Skaggs is. Yeah, you've seen him "on the Opry." Listen, this is not the same guy. It's yacht rock. Maybe you've heard of the "Lido Shuffle"? No, not shuffleboard, Grandma. I know you like playing that at the senior living center. "Lido Shuffle." It goes like, "Lidoooo … whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh." You've never heard of it? Yacht rock, Grandma? No? OK.
Don Felder (June 10, 7 p.m.)
The Eagles, Grandma. Remember them? Back when you owned that house with the pool, you had two cassette tapes you would play: "Eagles' Greatest Hits" and "Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits." Yeah, Papaw and Uncle John used to smoke dope and listen to "Hotel California," that's right. It is a shame what happened to him. I agree that he shouldn't have been arrested. Let's skip this night. I'm fine with that. No, "Little Lies" was a Fleetwood Mac song, Grandma. We're not going. It's settled.
Ludacris (June 10, 9:30 p.m.)
Grandma, stop it! You're going to hurt yourself moving like that. Do you remember that time Grandpa tried to punch that roofer guy you thought had stolen your earrings when he was working on your house? Imagine if you had confronted him first and Papaw needed you to get out of the way so he could attack him. If you read the lyrics to "Move Bitch," it's actually kind of a sweet song about a man standing up for a woman. It's the same situation. This song we're listening to? "What's Your Fantasy" is about cooking, Grandma. He's singing to a spatula covered in delicious cake batter. That's what he's licking.
Corey Smith (June 11, 7 p.m.)
I'm surprised you even know who Corey Feldman is, Grandma. But he isn't the guy who sang that "dark sunglasses," song—that was Corey Hart—and the song you're thinking of is "Sunglasses at Night," not "Cheap Sunglasses," which was a ZZ Top song and not at all relevant to the conversation. Trust me on this one. I know you, and I think you might enjoy Corey Smith's country sound. You might remember him as the guy who tried to sing his song "F the Po-Po" in Chattanooga when the police forced the venue to cut his mic. Oh, you didn't hear about that? Let's listen to the song together.
Old Dominion (June 11, 9:45 p.m.)
I don't like modern country music, Grandma, but we could do far worse than Old Dominion. They're pretty good, and I think you'll enjoy them. Do you want to wear your cowboy hat? OK. I don't have a problem with that. Nope. No guns are allowed, Grandma. I'm sorry, but you'll need to leave it in the car. Sure, we can sneak in a flask. We can tell them it's your Ensure.
Crowder (June 13, 9 p.m.)
No, CROWDER! Not "chowder," Grandma. I know you don't eat clams anymore after Papaw's surgery. We're talking about the Riverbend shows right now, remember? Nobody mentioned food or making you eat anything. This Mr. Crowder is an "American Christian folktronica musician" from Texas … he's a popular Christian artist … oh, OK. You'd rather stay home and drink that night? That's fine. I was really hoping you'd feel this way, to be honest.
Mother's Finest (June 14, 7 p.m.)
Don't swat at me with your hand, dammit! I said "Funk" music … FUNK. And "Shut Up" is the name of a song the band sings. You essentially raised me, so you know I would never curse at you or tell you to shut up. Calm down! Mother's Finest is a legendary Southern funk band, so we're 100 percent going to the show even if I have to drag you there in a blanket. As big of a Black Sabbath fan as you are (I've never seen another "Ozzy Rulz" tattoo as large as the one you have), I promise you'll enjoy this band. Yep. We can even get a corn dog before the "bone man" comes on.
George Thorogood (June 14, 9:30 p.m.)
Yep, he did the "Problem Child" soundtrack. You're right. Let's watch it. B-b-b-bad to the bone.
The Purple Xperience (June 15, 7 p.m.)
I didn't think Prince was sexy either until I saw him perform live. Trust me on this one. Whatever misgivings you might have about "the purple guy," I think if you ignore the blatant sexual innuendo and suggestive dance moves, you might actually enjoy his music. I don't know how to answer your question. I'll try, though. "Purple Rain" is kind of a metaphor for wanting something that you can never have. "Like a monkey butler?" Sure, Grandma. That's exactly what it's like.
Morris Day and The Time (June 15, 9:30 p.m.)
Are you going to hit me if I say the word again? "Funk" is not a dirty word. And, look, I know you thought "that purple guy" was strange and his "dirty lyrics" were too suggestive for a "woman of the '50s," but I think you'll like Morris Day. He's not as accomplished as Prince, but his music is much more straightforward than "the purple guy." He's got some moves, too.
Toby Keith (June 16, 9 p.m.)
Yep. Fox News, America, Solo cups and cowboys. That's right.
Here Come the Mummies (June 17, 7 p.m.)
It's not horror, Grandma. They're extremely talented musicians dressed as mummies. Besides, mummies aren't even scary. I think they might even be the least scary of the classic movie monsters. Swamp Thing? You think Swamp Thing is the scariest one? Dracula is easily the most terrifying of them all. He has the brains, you see? You can shoot a werewolf with a bullet, unravel a mummy into dust, but you can't just kill Dracula without a fight. No, Grandma, Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit. You think hobbits are scary? I think you're scary.
The Flaming Lips (June 17, 9:30 p.m.)
I don't know how to explain The Flaming Lips to you, Grandma. You will have just witnessed a bunch of people dressed as mummies. But I need to tell you that things are going to get so much weirder for both of us. Do you know what drugs are? Psychedelic drugs? Sure, like Advil. You and I are going to take some "Advil" about an hour before the show, OK? We're going to lie on the grass, and the stars are going to fall from the sky onto our faces. They might burn us, but we won't care. The lead singer, Wayne, is going to do some weird stuff onstage. He might sing into a giant alien tentacle, walk across the crowd in a hamster ball or gently caress a baby doll. I honestly don't think you'll ever recover, Grandma. But what a way to go, right? I could sprinkle your ashes inside the alien, sure. I love you, too.
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