Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Buffett Concert - The Greatest Show on Earth

I just scored tickets for the April 24 Jimmy Buffett concert in Tampa at the Florida State Fairgrounds Amphitheater. The tickets are in Section 10 not far back from the stage where He will be playing that night. The tickets were $160 each and worth every penny of the cost! This concert is the first show of the 2010 "Under the Big Top" tour. You can see the current 2010 concert series dates at this link.

This will be my second Buffett concert of the year - first one was in February in Orlando. More importantly it will be the 33rd time I have seen Jimmy in concert in person.

My first concert was in Chastain Park in Atlanta in July 1986. Crazed Canadian friend Gerry Benny flew from Grand Turk Island (where he was living) to Atlanta and then somehow got himself to Athens Georgia where I was living at the time. He showed up at the door of the house that Chris Haney and I were sharing and announced that we were all going to a Buffett concert the next night. Gerry didn't have any tickets but that didn't matter. Eventually we scored tickets to the show and lwent.

Chastain Park is in the epicenter of the Yuppie community in Atlanta. We were shocked on arrival at the concert to see people arriving in limousines (at a BUFFETT concert for Christ's sake!). Others had had their dinners catered as they sat around with little candelabras on their tables. It reeked of pretentiousness. When Jimmy took the stage he noticed the pretentiousness also and commented immediately saying "Looking at the crowd I'll bet there are a bunch of BMW keys out there?" The Yuppies all clapped. Jimmy then responded "Well FUCK YOU I drive a Ford Falcon" and the place erupted! The concert ended with him playing "One Particular Harbour" and I think of that concert every time I hear that song.

In April 1992 friend Jon Andrew and I met Jimmy before the concert in Fort Lauderdale. We received backstage passes and went into the amphitheater with Jimmy's business manager Sunshine Smith. Buffett was tuning his guitar and Sunshine walked up to him telling him who was waiting to meet him. Jimmy put down his guitar and walked up to me saying "Hi, I'm Jimmy Buffett" I wanted to say "Like I don't KNOW this??" I was awestruck and said "Jimmy this is the first time in my life that I've ever been speechless." He said "Speechless? The way you write letters how in hell can you be speechless? Let's go have a beer." He then took us backstage, opened a Corona for me and one for Jon and we sat around for 30 minutes talking about music, politics (Jimmy is of course and wisely a screaming liberal like me), the environment and the Caribbean. I couldn't sleep for 2 nights after meeting him.

The next best Buffett show was in Honolulu in 2006 when my youngest daughter was living on Oahu. She got us tickets and I flew out from Washington DC specifically to go to the show. It was at The Shell on Waikiki Beach. This to me was the perfect venue for a Buffett concert because it was 1) On an island, 2) south of the Tropic of Cancer, 3) at the base of a volcano (Diamond Head), 4) surrounded by palm trees with 5) parrots flying around overhead, 6) less than 1/2 mile from a beach with 7) sharks swimming around just offshore. It doesn't get much better than that.

The Tampa show likely won't have the ambiance of the show in Honolulu but it will still be a Buffett concert. And with Jimmy recently having turned 63 years old (on Christmas Day 2009) you never know how much longer he will be on tour. So I have to go.

If you've never been to a Buffett concert you can get some inkling of what its like there by watching this video for his song "Here We Are" - Buffett's singing tribute to his fans. No matter where he plays, it's always the greatest show on earth.

Fins Left!

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