Springtime in Margaritaville: Tour dates and new album give Buffett fans a reason to hula

BY TERRY MATHEWS | News-Telegram Arts Editor

Apr. 2, 2007 - For people who like Jimmy Buffett, the world’s richest beach bum, springtime brings great anticipation. Springtime means the Big Kahuna is going on tour and a Jimmy Buffett tour means it’s time to break out the flip-flops, tropical party favors, the Margarita machine and Buffett’s latest album.

Live at Texas Stadium

Parrotheads (Jimmy’s fans) have already started lining up for “Live at Texas Stadium,” recorded with George Strait and Alan Jackson during their 2004 mega-stadium show in Irving.  The album hits stores tomorrow.

During their long careers, Jackson, Strait and Buffett have separately released over “85 number one singles, and sold more than 120,000,000 records,” according to a press release from MCA–Nashville, the record’s distributor. 

Although Buffett is famous for “Margaritaville,” he actually got his start in country music, working in Nashville during the late 1960s. It wasn’t until good friend Jerry Jeff Walker took him to Key West that Buffett discovered the island point of view, his considerable song writing skills and developed his happy, laid back style of music. 

Buffett and Strait team up on three cuts, “All My Ex’s Live in Texas,” Hank Williams’ “Hey, Good Looking” and “Sea of Heartbreak.” 

Strait’s smooth vocal styling is the perfect foil for Buffett’s world-weathered sound. 

If you’re from the 50s or even the early 60s and you grew up in the south, Jimmy and King George’s cover of the Don Gibson hit “Sea of Heartbreak” might evoke memories of a Saturday night when your parents were going out on the town. They were all dressed up, with Hi-Fi playing the latest dance tune. Cha-cha-cha. 

Of course, Buffett and Jackson do a great turn on the Grammy-nominated “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” their huge 2003 hit. The song spent 38 weeks on the top 40 charts, including a five-week stint at number 1. The duet won a limousine full of awards for the song, too. 

Strait and Jackson step up to the microphone and deliver some pure country on “Murder on Music Row” and they wail on “Cowboys Like Us.”

Strait and his Ace in the Hole band have a rollicking good time with Bob Wills’ “Milk Cow Blues” and Jackson proves why he’s one of the best voices in country music on his cover of The Eagles’ “Seven Bridges Road.” The tight harmonies are incredible, especially considering they were done in front of a live audience. The album wouldn’t be complete without a visit to “Margaritaville,” and Jackson adds a nice dimension to the parrothead national anthem. 

One of the more pleasant surprises on the CD has to be Buffett and Jackson teaming up on “Boats to Build.” The song was written by Texan Guy Clark and it’s a great choice for the two musicians, who first met when they were out cruising around the Caribbean.

Long-time parrotheads will be delighted that Jimmy chose to include Willis Alan Ramsey’s song, “Northeast Texas Women,” on his set list for the show.

Buffett, Ramsey, a Dallas native, and Jerry Jeff Walker used to hang out together during the early 70s, playing the bars on lower Greenville Avenue in Dallas, struggling to make a living the music business.

Ramsey’s self-titled 1972 album has influenced musicians for years, including Buffett and Walker, who have covered some Ramsey’ tunes, including “The Ballad of Spider John.” 

Ramsey’s second album, “Gentilly,” is due out later this spring, so maybe including the tune on the new CD is Buffett’s way of tipping his hat to his old friend.

Here’s the first verse from “Northeast Texas Women”:

South of Oklahoma/

east of New Mexico/

�west of Louisiana,/

where all the Cajuns grow./

We’ve got a little place /

called Texas,/

where the women grow on trees./

They’re right there/ 

for the picking, /

just as pretty as you please.

You're smiling now, right?

Smiling and happiness is what Buffett does best. He’s so much more than “Margaritaville” and “Come Monday.” 

Buffett’s been playing happy music for over 30 years and after more than 20 albums, he obviously knows what his fans want. The album from the historic Texas Stadium show is no different. Having George Strait and Alan Jackson on the stage just makes listening to the 15 songs three times the fun. 

Buffett and his talented Coral Reefer Band are about to head out on the road. The Bama Breeze Tour takes its name from a cut from Buffett’s last solo CD, “Take the Weather with You.”

Buffett, who has been touring since 1976, and the band are doing the Texas two-step this year.

They’ll be at The Minute Maid Park in Houston on April 21 and at the Pizza Hut Park in Frisco on April 28.

Big stadium shows are not my favorite way to see Jimmy and his talented Coral Reefers. I prefer the smaller venues, like the shell on Waikiki or the Maui Arts and Culture Center in Kahului, where the sets are pared down and the crowds are smaller, but I’ll take any Buffett show over no Buffett show at all.

If you want to kick-start your summer, grab the new album, put on your best Hawaiian shirt and flip flops, and come on over to the Frisco show. 

People are coming in from all over Texas, Idaho, South Carolina, Kansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico, Florida, Rhode Island and New York City for the show. 

About 300 die-hard parrotheads who hang out at  www.buffettnews.com will be there, grilling yummy cheeseburgers, drinking Margaritas, wearing grass skirts and coconut bras, wiggling their toes in the trucked-in beach sand, and raising  money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. They will be smiling – a lot. 

Seeing Jimmy Buffett in concert  is a slice of parrothead heaven. It’s nice to enjoy the happiest party on the planet and watch the Big Kahuna strut his stuff.

�Hula, hula!

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