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Rock on, entire family is Bad to the Bone

On Sunday, my family took in the Down by the Riverside George Thorogood concert. My sister, her two children, her boyfriend, and his son — who drove down from "up north" for the occasion — joined us. Here’s how it went down:

1:15 p.m. The show starts at 7 p.m. So, of course, I hustle everyone out the door immediately after lunch. "If we wait any longer," I say, "the park — not to mention the parking ramps — will be full!"

1:24 p.m.: We pull into the nearly empty Civic Center parking ramp and take the very first spot.

1:27 p.m. We load our collective arms with four lawn chairs, three blankets, a bag of snacks, a cooler, three decks of cards, two board games, a box of tissues, and a giant container of Hot Tamales, which has mysteriously landed into my six-year-old niece’s hands.

1:35 p.m. We enter Mayo Park — where we are not greeted by the thousands of people who’d staked out their spots at 5 a.m. There are maybe 100 people scattered throughout the green. Which explains how we land a kick-butt space about 50 feet in front of the stage.


1:38 p.m. We organize our chairs, blankets, and other supplies into a cozy day-camp site.

1:42 p.m. My sister says, "Do you think we’re too close to the speakers?"

1:47 p.m. We haul our chairs, our blankets, and our bags 40 feet back and to the right.

2:33 p.m. The kids drink all the juice boxes, even though there’s still five hours until the concert starts.

4 p.m. I realize that we could’ve stayed home for another three or four hours and still snagged a prime spot. I don’t say this out loud.

5:15 p.m. I take the kids to the playground, where I spin my niece on the tire swing until I get dizzy. "’Don’t you need a break?" I say. "No!" she yells. "Keep going!"

7 p.m. Annie Mack opens the show. I’ve wanted to see her all summer — and, it turns out, she’s worth the wait. What a voice.

7:40 p.m. Mack’s still singing when my nephew, Ben, falls asleep at the picnic table. My sister blames last night’s late hours. I blame Mack’s honey voice.


7:45 p.m. During the 20-minute break to prepare the stage for Thorogood, my niece asks, "Is it over now? Can we go home?"

8 p.m. Thorogood hits the stage. Our seats are so rockin’ that we can actually see him strut out. He looks good and sounds even better. Have to say, I’m surprised and impressed.

8:44 p.m. There it is. "I Drink Alone." And the crowd is putty in his hands.

8:50 p.m. "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer." The reason I’m here.

8:53 p.m. My niece and nephew are curled up on the ground, asleep. At a rock concert.

9:13 p.m. My husband takes one for the team by offering to take the kids home. As he leads three children into the dark, thousands-deep crowd, I wonder if I’ll ever see them again.

9:17 p.m. Thorogood launches into "Bad to the Bone." It’s pretty cool to hear the b-b-b-b-bad coming straight from his mouth. Plus, it’s nice to associate a new memory with this song. The old one fused itself into my brain in 1988 when a guy I was dating told me that "Bad to the Bone" reminded him of himself. "OK," I said. But I couldn’t help think that when Thorogood wrote the song he probably didn’t have a guy who styled his hair with Dippity Do in mind.

9:23 p.m. "Move it on Over." Thorogood, at age 62, can still kill it.


9:28 p.m. ...But maybe not all the time. His final song, "Born to be Bad," sounds oddly pop-like. Even his on-stage antics lighten up. I’m wondering if it’s just me when my sister says, "Huh. He’s reminding me a little bit of Richard Simmons."

9:35 p.m. "What did you think of your first rock concert?" I ask six-year-old Blake as we fall in line behind the crowd hitting the sidewalk. He raises his hand in a two-finger, rock-and-roll salute. "Rock on!" he says.

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