Strawberry Festival brings big hair, big voices -- from Taylor Swift to George Jones

Are you ready for the battle of blonds, the melee of mullets, the scrum of, well, whatever the heck is on George Jones' head? This year's all-star music lineup at the Florida Strawberry Festival is all about highflying, highlighted, highly priced hair.

Per usual, organizers of the Strawberry Fest, which begins Feb. 26 and runs through March 8, have proved crafty at luring the biggest country acts to Plant City.

But more than that, they inadvertently themed this year's entertainment: Only super 'dos allowed! For instance, by the time the fruit-based extravaganza is finished, no less than seven overtly blond bombshells will have entertained the hundreds of thousands descending upon good ol' Plant City.

The buzziest blond? On March 8, Jessica Simpson will close the fest. At the same time, coincidentally enough, another blond will be in Tampa: Britney Spears, at the St. Pete Times Forum. Fight! Fight! Fight!

But forget about Brit-Brit for now. We liked her better when she was bald anyway. We're talking the Strawberry Festival, where it's all about rocking your mullet or riding your swoop or . . . seriously, what IS going on with George Jones' high heap o' hair?

Herewith, your well-coiffed musical lineup:

THE BLONDS

Kellie Pickler (Friday): A long time ago, when I was young and mean and didn't chew my food properly, I used to call her "Huckleberry Blond." Ha! Ha! But a funny thing happened on the way to Snarkville: I realized I was WRONG. Pickler turned out to be one of the better American Idol alums. Her songs are country-cute, but they're catchy, too. Forgive me?

Taylor Swift (Sunday): Swift, 19, is the hottest thing in popular music. It's not even close. Her 2008 album Fearless was the biggest seller of last year — and the top seller in 2009, too. Current hits White Horse and Love Story have crazy-huge download numbers. Reserve seats sold out in a hurry, but check the note above: You still might have a shot at seeing her.

Brenda Lee (Wednesday): I'm sorry, so sorry, that I was such a fooooool . . . The Strawberry Fest always makes sure to respect its legends, and Brenda Lee is certainly one of those. Her show is at 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, but you watch: She'll have a big crowd.

Jessica Simpson (March 8): Jess took guff lately for looking chunky-but-funky in unfortunate denim. But the pop-star-turned-Nashville-nymph has turned her tabloid nightmare into a fan base that has just now realized she has become a country singer. Plus who needs teeny Daisy Dukes when your curves can rock a red dress like this?

Other blonds: Helen Cornelius with Jim Ed Brown (Monday); Connie Smith with the mulleted Marty Stuart (Tuesday); Lorrie Morgan (March 5).

THE MULLETS

Jake Owen (Saturday): Vero Beach's Owen looks so much like Keith Urban — including that skeezy ape drape — we're thinking he could totally get to second base with Nicole Kidman before she realized shenanigans were afoot.

Travis Tritt (Tuesday): One of my favorite mullets of all time, the hell-raising Tritt is an old-school outlaw, shoot first, ask questions later. He doesn't sell as well as he did in the '90s (I blame Nashville), but he's still a lot of feisty fun and T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

Jeff Foxworthy (March 6): He may look all shorn and Supercuts on his hit show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, but when Foxworthy was rocking his trailer park bit, the comedian sported a serious Georgia waterfall. You might be a redneck if you can tuck your hair in the back pocket of your Wranglers.

Other mullets: Marty Stuart (March 5); Nitty Gritty Dirty Band (Friday).

THE SWOOPS

George Jones (Feb. 26): Like Donald Trump or Yaphet Kotto, George Jones has had the same architecturally unsound coif since birth. Seriously, it's like a Frank Lloyd Wright creation. Falling Possum! It has bamboozled scientists for years, and yet without it, No-Show Jones and his Grand Tour wouldn't be the same. Don't miss this one.

Randy Travis (Monday): The so-low bass delivery of Randy Travis is in stark comparison to his remarkably buoyant swoop. Even better than his hair is new album Around the Bend, which includes a fine cover of Bob Dylan's Don't Think Twice, It's All Right.

Other swoops: Ronnie McDowell (March 6).

OTHER 'DOS

The fade

Kool & the Gang (March 7): We love the idea of the Celebration crew playing the Strawberry Fest. It'll be fun watching Ma and Pa get down to Jungle Boogie.

The behatted

Rodney Atkins (Sunday): The pop-country singer has no right, no right at all, wearing his trademark grimy ball cap to such a Valhalla of awesome hair. Set your lyour locks free, Rod!

THE MYSTERY 'DOS

Ray Stevens (Wednesday): The country punster turned 70 this year — and yet Mr. Everything Is Beautiful looks just like he did swinging around in a loincloth for 1969's Gitarzan or gettin' nekkid for The Streak. We're suspicious, but singing along.

Mel Tillis (March 5): The world's most beloved stutterer, born in Tampa no less, turned 76 this year — and yet Mr. Coca-Cola Cowboy looks just as he did cuddling orangutans in Every Which Way But Loose. We're suspicious, but smiling along.

Other mystery 'dos: Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers (tonight); Mark Lowry (March 7); Trent Tomlinson (March 8).

Sean Daly (aka "The Buzzed Fro") can be reached at sdaly@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/ popmusic.

Strawberry Festival brings big hair, big voices -- from Taylor Swift to George Jones 02/24/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 26, 2009 9:18am]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...