With the exception of his mega-hits with Alan Jackson (“Five O’Clock Somewhere”) and The Zac Brown Band (“Knee Deep”), the only Buffett songs you are likely to hear on the radio are “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”
And, that’s a shame, because there is so much more to him than a tune about tequila and who’s to blame for a breakup.
Come to a concert and you’ll understand why parrotheads (Jimmy’s fans) are so loyal.
During a stop on the “This One’s For You” tour Saturday night in Frisco, Jimmy gave the beached-up crowd what they wanted, including favorites like “Changes in Latitude,” “Come Monday,” “Volcano,” “He Went to Paris” and “A Pirate Looks at 40.”
But, the Big Kahuna also gave a nod to songwriters and performers he admires, including Van Morrison (“Brown-Eyed Girl”), Don Gibson and George Strait (“Sea of Heartbreak”), Will Kimbrough (“Nobody From Nowhere”), James Taylor (“Mexico”) and Steven Stills (“Southern Cross”).
He chose Texas songwriting legend Willis Alan Ramsey’s “Northeast Texas Women” as one of the encores, giving a nod to his friend from the early years.
It’s also Buffett’s way of letting long-time fans know how much he loves Texas.
In the early days, he could always find work here – work that he says kept him from starving – and it seems he has a genuine affection for the Lone Star State. And, Texas loves him back, providing a fan base large enough to support four stops on the current tour (Houston, Austin, The Coyote-Drive In and Frisco).
Buffett, now 67, doesn’t seem to age. He’s lost most of his trademark curls, but none of the incredible charm and love of performing, sporting a perpetual smile that can light up 22,000 fans on any given evening.
Along with being a born entertainer, Buffett is one smart businessman. He’s turned a drinking song into one of the most recognizable brands in the world. He has Margaritaville-theme restaurants and bars, clothing, casinos and his own satellite radio station.
He’s a millionaire many times over.
He owns homes in Florida, Long Island, St. Barts and just recently purchased a place in Los Angeles. He’s also a best-selling author.
So why does he bother to hit the road every year?
Because he loves it – at least that’s what I think – and I’ve been a fan since the early, lean years when he was playing small bars in Dallas. Armed with just a guitar, he was singing some of his own tunes, but also covered Gordon Lightfoot and other folk artists of the time. He was young and hungry, but he was always, always happy. As he once said, “I don’t sing the blues.”
Another reason Buffett can make his annual pilgrimage around the country is due to the musicians who make up the Coral Reefer Band.
Six-time CMA Musician of the Year Mac McAnally is Buffett’s musical director. The two have collaborated for years.
The group includes Tina Gullickson and Nadirah Shakoor on vocals, Eric Darken on percussion, Peter Mayer on lead guitar, Doyle Grisham on pedal steel guitar, Roger Guth on drums, Jim Mayer on bass, Robert Greenidge on steel drums, Michael Utley (another long-time friend and collaborator) on keyboards and John Lovell on trumpet.
He’s surrounded himself with good musicians since he hit the big time. Former Coral Reefers include notable artists Jerry Jeff Walker, John Hiatt, Russ Kunkel, J.D. Souther, Greg “Fingers” Taylor, Johnny Gimble and Sheryl Crow.
Buffett and the Reefers did a gig in Fort Worth Thursday night at the Coyote Drive-In. The 1,100 tickets sold out in 10 seconds. The show was simulcast to more than 80 drive-ins across the country. From all accounts, the show was a resounding success and more dates are planned.
Buffett’s road crews make good use of multiple big screens and footage of tropical locales to add to the overall experience.
Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newbie, a Jimmy Buffett show is cause for celebration and a chance to escape to the beach without leaving North Texas. Just check out the parking lot at Frisco. They start lining up on Thursday. Yep. It was a three-day party that lasted well into Sunday morning – with parking passes that can run upwards of $200 a day for an RV. We’re talking serious dedication to Buffett’s lifestyle.
Walk the expansive parking lot prior to the show and you’ll find pirates, hula girls, tiki bars and swimming pool and of course, delicious cheeseburgers. This year, a couple even got engaged.
When the Jimmy Buffett carnival rolls into Texas next year, give his easy, breezy lifestyle a try, if only for an evening. Put on a Hawaiian shirt, wear some flip flops and step onto the concrete beach – where the sun may set, but the party goes on forever. Phins UP!
John Fogerty opened for Buffett Saturday and man, did he and his band rock the crowd, performing 17 numbers, including “Green River,” “Looking Out My Back Door,” “Midnight Special,” “Fortunate Son” and a duet with Jimmy on “Down on the Corner.” Fogerty’s drummer, Kenny Aronoff, took off on a couple of smoking solos.
Kudos to Fogerty’s crew. The sound level was perfect. Fogerty’s strong vocals and Aronoff’s incredible stick work came across the floor of the stadium perfectly.
Everyone was on their feet and pumped up – perfectly primed when Buffett came bouncing onto the stage.
For a limited time, you can watch shows from the current tour at no cost on Margaritaville TV. Visit www.margaritaville.tv for details.
For tour dates, restaurant and casino locations and all things Buffett, visit www.margaritaville.com.
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