Sunday, April 25, 2010

My 33rd Jimmy Buffett Concert - or - In the Presence of God

Every year in April people who believe in one of about three "gods" celebrate "Holy Week" as a lead up to a ritual about the fictitious rising from the dead of a fictitious human. Their "Holy Week" ends on Easter Sunday.

For me I also believe in a Holy Week but my holy week is about a real person who really lives and if I am lucky my holy week occurs several times in calendar year. My holy week is the week leading up to the next Jimmy Buffett concert that I get to attend.

Last night, April 24 2010 my second Holy Week of the year came to its conclusion when Jimmy Buffett arose from backstage and put on a 2 hour 10 minute fantastic performance at Ford Amphitheater in Tampa Florida. For me it was my 33rd Jimmy Buffett concert. And, despite Jimmy having turned 63 years old on Christmas Day each concert I watch is better than the last one. Last night's show was no different.

The early highlight of the concert was seeing an 80 year old or so lady in a wheel chair being pushed to the entrance of the venue. She was being pushed by someone who was likely her grandson or maybe great grandson. She was toking on a joint as she moved along and as she did she was singing "Margaritaville" at the top of her lungs. Seeing her reminded me of my old friend Dwight Lee who once proclaimed himself to be the "World's Oldest Living Parrothead" before he died. The lady last night may now hold that honor.

There was considerable Parrothead activity in the humongous parking lot of the Ford Amphitheater (on the grounds of the Florida State Fair just off I-4 and I-75 in northeast Tampa). One Parrothead I talked to who was about my age said that he and his wife had showed up two days earlier in their Winnebago and had been partying since they arrived. The best thing about it, he said, was "No driving means no DUI"! Smart man.

Having recently torn the meniscus in my right knee, I hobbled over to Section 10 not that far from the stage and took my seat. On seeing this picture below, I sent it to my friend Lynn's daughter herself a Parrothead) and told her I was almost close enough to scratch Jimmy's head. The only seats I've ever had better at a Buffett show were the one's that Jon Andrew and I acquired at the 1992 Manatee benefit show in Fort Lauderdale. And those were accompanied by a trip back stage to drink a Corona with Jimmy! It doesn't get much better than that.

Ford Amphitheater was packed to the rafters with Parrotheads. The venue is very similar to Nissan Pavilion outside of Washington DC where I saw Jimmy 9 times in 14 years. Nissan holds about 30,000 people. The crowd last night was about that many.

As people filed into the venue we each had the opportunity to pay $12 for a draught Landshark Lager. By the looks of the crowds at the bars, Landshark did a bang up job in sales last night.

The first activity on the stage happened just before 8:00 p.m. when the roadies made one last swing through the equipment. Then was the playing of "Tequila" as a warm up. When it finished Jimmy walked on stage saying "Hello TAMPA." Everyone on cue rose to their feet and screamed and hollered and it was all downhill from there. Jimmy was introducing Ilo Ferreira whom Jimmy discovered a few years ago on the Cape Verde islands off the west coast of Africa. And this is the song he played last night.

After Ilo played two songs we were treated to the traditional tossing of Cheeseburgers with "Hot Hot Hot" playing in the background. I have landed in the Bahamas 51 times and despite this being a Puerto Rican song I have heard Hot Hot Hot playing in the arrivals lounge 50 of those 51 times. There are few songs better for getting someone in West Indian frame of mind, mon.

God took the stage at 8:07 and opened with I'm Nobody From Nowhere off his 2009 Buffet Hotel CD. The music continued until 10:17 with the conclusion of Tin Cup Chalice from the 1974 A1A album. As much as I absolutely love Buffett music I have to complain that on Radio Margaritaville they play Tin Cup Chalice WAY TOO MUCH and too often. Its ridiculous.

Only the show I saw with my daughter Dana on Oah'u, Hawaii was better than last night's show. Among the 27 songs played, there was one other Zac Brown song and a Kenny Chesney song. Of those 25 classically Buffett songs, 10 of them were from his earliest albums - 1970s vintage stuff. The real Buffett. That was one of the things that made an already great show even better.

The complete play list follows:

1. I'm Nobody From Nowhere (Buffet Hotel 2009)

2. License to Chill (License to Chill 2004). This song was originally released with Kenny Chesney.

3. Knees of My Heart (Riddles in the Sand 1986)

4. It's 5 O'Clock Somwhere (Alan Jackson and Jimmy 2003).

5. Frank and Lola (Last Mango in Paris 1985).

6. Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes (Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes 1977) (The Chris Haney- Craig Faanes theme song).

7. Volcano (Volcano 1979). One of the high points of my Parrothead life has been sitting on a fumerole near the peak of the Montserrat volcano that Jimmy sings about in this song. Seven years after I was there the volcano blew and Montserrat has never been the same. Before playing this song last night, Jimmy reminded the world that he had warned everyone about upcoming volcanic eruptions. Nobody seemed to have listened!

8. If The Phone Doesn't Ring It's Me (Last Mango in Paris 1985)

9. Wings (Buffet Hotel 2009).

10. Where The Boat Leaves From (Zac Brown Band Song)

11. One Particular Harbour (One Particular Harbour 1983).

12. Big Top (Buffet Hotel 2009)

During the 15 minute intermission they played a video of Jimmy and Zac Brown singing Zac's smash hit song "Toes in the Water"

13. Everybody's On the Phone (Take The Weather With You 2006)

14. Jamaica Mistaka (Banana Wind 1998)

15. Creola (Floridays 1986)

16. Cheeseburger in Paradise (Son of a Son of a Sailor 1978)

17. Son of a Son of a Sailor (Son of a Son of a Sailor 1978)

18. Come Monday (Living and Dying in 3/4 Time 1974)

19. Cuban Crime of Passion (White Sports Coat and a Pink Crustacean 1973)

20. A Pirate Looks at Forty (A1A 1974).

21. Back Where I Come From (Kenny Chesney song)

22. Surfing in a Hurricane (Buffet Hotel 2009).

23. Southern Cross (Buffett Live, Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays 1999)

24. Margaritaville (The lost verse version) (Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes 1977).

First Encore

25. Bank of Bad Habits (Barometer Soup 1995)

26. Fins (Volcano 1979).

Solo Encore

27. Tin Cup Chalice (A1A 1974)

And then it was over.

During the concert Jimmy was of course in shorts and barefoot. However he was wearing a yellow t shirt that had on its front an outline of Florida with the words A1A - directly from the road signs that follow come with that magical highway as it winds its way down Florida's east coast from the St. Mary's River all the way to Key West. I have never seen that t shirt before. However it is now my highest priority to obtain one. Maybe 3 or 4 while I'm at it.

Also during the concert a fool standing in front of me challenged my knowledge of Buffett lore during the performance of "One Particular Harbour." As I was singing away this clown turned to me and asked "is he singing in Greek or is he just making up those words?"

Shocked that he didn't know I said "He's singing in Tahitian. The song originated overlooking Bora Bora harbour."

He came back with, "Oh, so you are fluent in Tahitian?"

I said "I am when I'm singing this song. He's singing about the abundance of the ocean."

He replied "I think you're full of shit."

I pulled out my Blackberry, cranked up, put in the request and voila. There it was just like this:

1. What language are the words at the beginning of the song "One Particular Harbor" in and what do they mean?

The words are Tahitian and translate as follows:

Ia oro te natura
E mea arofa teie ao nei
Ua oau te maitai no te fenua
Te vai noa ra te ora o te mitie

Nature lives (Life To Nature)
Have pity of the earth (Love The Earth)
The bounty of the land is exhausted
But there is still abundance in the sea.

Source: The Coconut Telegraph vol 6 no 6.

The scene rather reminded me of that bullethead in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, a few years ago who was bragging to three women about how much he knew about Jimmy Buffett. I couldn't resist, and after the fourth question he got wrong ("What is the name of the dolphin in 'Jolly Mon Sing'?) the three women walked away from him saying "We thought you knew about Jimmy Buffett." Last night's clown may be more circumspect the next time.

My first Buffett concert was in Chastain Park, Atlanta, in 1986 when friends and fellow Parrotheads Chris Haney and Gerry Benny and I watched from the aisles of the venue. The intervening 31 shows have stretched from Honolulu (at the base of Diamond Head volcano) and San Francisco (a week before "the Labor day weekend show") east to Boston, Massachusetts, Baltimore, Washington DC (9 times) and Fort Lauderdale where Jon and I got to meet Him backstage. Every show has been different and every show (except for the one in Tampa a few years ago in the venue where the Tampa Bay Lightning play hockey and where no provision is made for acoustics) has been great. I just hope Jimmy's health holds out long enough for him to be touring 10 years from now when he's 73.

As I was leaving the venue I noticed a man to my right who had obviously consumed about 18 more Landshark Lagers than he should have consumed. He was comical as hell to watch. If you have ever been in an earthquake you know the feeling of moving forward and sideways at the same time. This man was doing that while standing on solid ground a thousand miles from the nearest fault line. As he did he was listing to port about 20 degrees. He fell down a couple times and finally pulled out his cell phone. Dialing a number he told the person on the other end "I'm really fucking drunk and don't know where I am."

He was in Margaritaville, just a little southeast of disorder.


  1. Excellent reporting of a great concert. You had better seats than I did. I like the A1A shirt also and was looking for one when Google steered me to your blog. FYI, Jimmy wore the same shirt in Ft. Lauderdale during the final show of the Summerskool our. The closest one I've found was at:

  2. OMG! I am looking for that same shirt too! I took my teenage son to the concert. We scored excellent seats in section 1, just 11 rows from the stage. The only JB concert I have liked better was Ballads Tour, saw him at Beacon Theater in NY with just 2000 people.

    But back to that shirt. It is perfect. No touristy stuff, no road sign facsimile out line, just A1A and just the outline of the state that is on the sign.

    It had to have been made some where. If I find it I will report back here.

  3. Hi...Stumbled upon your blog, love it.If your interested in the A1A t-shirt we do have one similar to the one Jimmy wore. If you want the design in the front we can take care of that. We will also will delete the text above the design, if you want. We have them in yellow and more colors. They are pigment dyed for that worn comfortable look and the design is screen printed. We offer free shipping on all of our stuff. We're easy to talk to check us out. Thanks. Carter

  4. Great review and blog. Wow, you have seen him alot. I just scored my first tix for April, 2011, after joining the local PHC chapter in Charlotte Harbor last year, having relocated from AZ. Do you know what section at the (Ford) Ask Gary Amphi, the PHC's are seated in?

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