Saturday, September 6, 2008

Musings about Jimmy Buffett Shows

Shoreline 2006
"My fifteen seconds of Shame!"

Okay, here's my "Dirty Little Secret" (that's not all that "Secret!"). I am a BigTime Parrothead / Jimmy Buffett Phan! I'll admit, I joined the "cult" a little late - but still *before* he started to experience his real commercial success (a la "Five O'Clock Somewhere" with Alan Jackson).

I think I went to my first JB concert shortly after I met Roger (I really wasn't much of a concert-goer before that - to be honest). So that must've been in 2001 - at Shoreline. For that particular show, we arrived late and totally MISSED the opportunity to Tailgate - which is a HUGE part of the JB Experience! (Freakin' Neophytes!).

Actually, a colleague of mine, "Dave-Who," turned me onto JB. He'd sent me a bunch of CD's that he'd burned, of JB "live" concerts. Now don't get me wrong, I was already 'familiar' with Jimmy Buffett and had his "Songs you Know By Heart" CD somewhere in the back of my car. I knew "Margaritaville" and "Why Don't We Get Drunk..." Seriously - who on this earth *hasn't* heard Margaritaville, right? But I hadn't yet "embraced" the whole Parrothead thing, right?

I listened to the CD's that Dave sent me and found that - oddly - I really enjoyed them. Loved the "live" versions of the songs FAR better than the studio versions, right? For me, that was really unusual. But then, like I said, I wasn't much of a concert-goer until I'd met Rog...

Anyway, songs from "other artists," when heard as a "live concert" version... Well... I really NEVER liked the "live" versions. I ALWAYS preferred the studio version.

And, after experiencing a Jimmy Buffett concert (or two, or twelve! I've long-since lost count!), I can TOTALLY get-into the "live" versions FAR better than their studio equivalents...

At least for Jimmy Buffett tunes!

So, I think I completely "converted over" to the cult sometime in 2001... And since then, I think I've gone completely "over the top" and that's okay!!!

Our backyard is totally Tropical and we have a sign hanging behind the Tiki Bar declaring that this is "Miller's Margaritaville."

Funny Story: I can't even remember what year this happened, but it probably doesn't matter. Let's just say it was "several years ago."

A little background info is in order here: Rog is an Old Hippie and BigTime DeadHead. In fact, he moved from Connecticut to San Francisco, CA *specifically* so that he could follow The Dead, right? And he's got this "scary recall" feature where he can listen to a Live Dead Song and recall the date, year, venue, and recount obscure historical footnotes about the show - just by listening to the song!!! It's really kinda creepy. "Fillmore, April 17, 1979 - Jerry's gastric reflux was acting up that night so it wasn't one of their better shows..." THAT sorta thing (okay, that might be a slight exaggeration - but not by much!)

And - just for the record - I'm NOT that bad about JB, okay?!!

So anyway, "several years ago," I had finished a hellish day at work and was sitting out at the Tiki Bar, listening to one of my Jimmy Buffett CD's. I was sippin' on a margarita and basically being 'In My Happy Place.'

Well, Rog - at the time - was working at a job that was "less-than-fulfilling" and sometimes he'd come home from work in a less-than-stellar mood. In fact, he'd be lookin' to "Kick the [proverbial] dog" and that "dog" was usually "me," right?

(Which is not to imply that Rog is a bad guy or anything - but we were experiencing some "challenges" back then) (We're MUCH better now!).

So anyway, he comes home from work. Comes outside. Sees me in My Happy Place and this just doesn't seem to set well with him.

So he proceeds to point out that "You know... He's really not that good of a singer..." (And, honestly, there's no denying that). My response was something akin to "Yeah, so what?" as I took another sip of my adult beverage...

"And he's really not that good of a musician, either..."

"Yeah, so?" I replied "Neither was Jerry Garcia..." [resume sipping - ummm - more "enthusiastically!"]

Well, apparently, when I dragged Jerry into it, I must've inadvertently 'declared war' or something. I mean, based on his rather explosive response, you'd've thought I'd insulted his mother!! The diatribe that followed isn't worthy of repeating, but I do recall stating, with remarkable calmness - no less - that "You know, when you get right down to it, Parrotheads and Deadheads really do have a lot in common..." and "Yeah, the costuming and drugs of choice differ, but when you get right down to it, they're basically identical..."

Again, I'll skip much of his response (but I think it may have included the phrase "Are you out of your f**king mind?!" Or words to that effect) with the end-result being a stalemate. Rog was adamant that Parrotheads and Deadheads had absolutely NOTHING in common and I recall that the evening ended with me turning off the stereo abruptly, retreating to the guest-room and slamming the door.

(Sometimes I choose to take the chicken-sh*t approach and fall back on "Choose Your Battles" which can be infuriating b/c I reach a point where "This conversation is OVER" and, well, there's no add'l discussion. This was one of those situations where "retreat" was the only sensible option, IMHO, because there could be No Winner.)

Well, fast-forward to several-months (or possibly a year) later: We went to see Jimmy at HP Pavilion in downtown San Jose (Sucky venue - more on that later!). So I'm thinkin' that this argume-- err "lively discussion" probably took place around the end-of-summer 2003 because the JB show @ HP was early in 2004 ("License to Chill" Tour).

So, we watched the show, and planned our retreat before the end b/c we didn't want to get stuck in traffic, right?

Well, as we were leaving, Jimmy was starting his encores, right? We were "out" of the main arena, in the outer walkway, and making a beeline for the exit when Rog stops us abruptly. "Is he playing a Dead Tune? Yeah, that's Scarlet Begonias!!! Stop!" So we ducked back into the arena to listen to the first encore. Sure as sh*t - he was playing Scarlet Begonias - an old Dead tune!!!

We stayed and listened, and the crowd went wild and yada-yada...

After we'd ducked out of the main arena, back to the outer walkway, I asked Roger - quite pointedly - "So, tell me again - how Deadheads have NOTHING in common with Parrotheads!!!"

Sometimes, ya just gotta wait for your victories, right?!! *That* particular victory was especially sweet, actually!

And now Roger is a Convert! :-D

* * * * *

2005 - JB Concert - HP Pavilion - Where we earned our "Badge of Honor!"

"Salty Piece of Land" Tour. JB's annual NoCal Concert was scheduled for April 2005 @ HP Pavilion in downtown San Jose. By that time, I had nearly perfected my Tailgating Skills (having missed out on previous opportunities 2001-2004). We *did* have a pick-em-up-truck (Big Bonus for Tailgating!), and I'd loaded up out Tiki-Thatch umbrella, Hula-skirt (for the tailgate), and even had a ring-toss game (Flamingo-themed)... Well, we pulled in and I setup the thatch umbrella and hula-skirt on the tailgate. We had a couple of folding chairs and were basically "hanging out" 'til the doors opened (this was before I had DC-operated appliances!).

Well, HP Pavilion has a strict "No-Tailgating" Policy. Kinda silly for a sporting venue, if you ask me (but obviously nobody did!). Still. It seems that there's no real "definition" for what constitutes "Tailgating!" We didn't have food. We didn't have (visible) alcoholic beverages. We were basically just "sitting there" at the back of our truck, with a Tiki Umbrella "up" and Hula-Skirt taped to the tailgate and I guess that constituted "Illegal Tailgating!"

So we started out with the in-house "Security" folks who came up and informed us that Tailgating was not allowed. "But, we aren't tailgating! We're just waiting for the doors to open!"

Now, mind you, folks are pulling in - all around us - and setting up *their* party gigs, right? Minivans w/folding chairs and "Hawaiian" themed beach towels, and inflatable palm-tree coolers and yada yada. But I guess our "thatch umbrella" was just too much to bear, right?

Next thing we know, we've got the SJPD pulling up to the back of our truck, telling us we have to leave. "Tailgating is NOT ALLOWED!" In the meantime, a car drives by - very slowly - blasting "BAD BOYS! BAD BOYS! WHAT'CHA GONNA DO? WHAT'CHA GONNA DO WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU!"

Well, the cops were *quite* adamant about the fact that we HAD TO LEAVE so we packed up our sh*t, demanded a refund on our way out (we did get refunded for parking!), and moved to a different parking lot.


To add Insult to Injury - during the show, they did show the traditional "Parking Lot Video" of folks partying - well, in the parking lot! - and there were TONS of folks who'd arrived AFTER WE DEPARTED - who were featured on the video!

Rog wrote a rather "heated" email to the folks who run HP Pavilion - after the fact - and got a canned (and entirely unsatisfactory) response...

Oh, well!

Nevertheless, there is definitely something "honorable" about getting 86'd from the Parking Lot of a JB Venue for "Illegal Tailgating!" I wear that badge WITH PRIDE!!!

* * * * *

There were a couple of years where JB didn't play the Bay Area. One year (I think it was '05) we flew down to Vegas to see him at the MGM Grand. I recall that he had a show scheduled at Shoreline, but his mother died and the show was cancelled. I'm thinkin' that's a valid excuse!

The show in Vegas was fun - but it was a HUGE indoor venue and, well, pungent smoke was suspiciously absent!

And, factoring in the gambling losses that particular weekend, I'd have to say that was THE most expensive concert I've ever seen!!!

* * * * *

2006 @ Shoreline (April - "Party at the End of the World" Tour) - aka "My Fifteen Seconds of Fame!"

So 2006 was the year that Jimmy Buffett brought "Summer" to Northern California! We'd had an unseasonably "wet" winter and things were pretty damned depressing. But by the end of April, things managed to "clear-up" and I totally attributed that to JB scheduling an EARLY concert for us!!!

By then, I had TOTALLY perfected the Tailgate Thing! We had the thatch umbrella, the Hula-Skirt for the tailgate, assorted food-warmers AND a DC-Operated Blender! And Shoreline is "Tailgate-Friendly!" (Well, except for the local gendarmes - more on them later!).

We'd arrived early. So early, in fact, that the gates for the parking lot were not yet open! So, as
we stood in line, I started the conversion of "Willie" (our 4x4 pickup) to Mobile TikiBar! I setup the thatch umbrella and Hula-skirt taped to the tailgate. We slowly made our way into "Preferred Parking" and I announced to Roger that My Goal, for the Evening was to make it onto the "Parking Lot Video!"

Well, the gates opened, and we made our way in... I completed the set-up w/DC-operated blender and food-warmers. We ate Mexican Grub for dinner and Sugar-free Margaritas (Rog mostly concentrated on beer!). JB had "his people" wandering the parking lots - taking videos and whatnot... Well, evidently, Willie made the grade because they DID stop at our truck! They gave us a tee-shirt and "interviewed" us on video. End result: They video'd the back of the truck (zeroing in on the "TO CHILL" license plate) and panned back to my big, fat, mug! And THAT video made it onto the "Parking Lot Video!" (My face - and Roger's hands, operating the blender! Rog was peeved about that!). Well, for the rest of the night, ppl were coming up to me saying "HEY!!! I saw you on the VIDEO! CONGRATULATIONS!!!")

Pretty freakin' cool, I think!!!

* * * * *

2007 - Jimmy didn't "schedule" any shows in NoCal - so we drove down to Irvine to see him in concert. Rog was "in charge" of determining the route and our ETA (I, wisely, stayed out of the "decision-making" there - other than setting up the Hotel Reservations!). well, we ended up on "The 405" during peak commute hours on a Friday afternoon. No comments offered!

We *did* see JB. We *did* party in the parking lot. So much so, in fact, that I have almost NO recollection of the show!!! (But I *am* a "Happy" Drunk!!!). Irvine Meadows is a HUGE venue though. Not nearly as nice as Shoreline....

Later that year, JB *did* announce a show at the Fillmore - a venue that holds less than 1500ppl, $ 300.00 for ONE ticket and went solo. Yes. Solo!

That kinda made up for the fact that I didn't remember a damned thing from the Irvine Show!!!

I was sooooooo close to Jimmy, I could see him SWEAT!!!

* * * * *

This year, I originally scored section 200 seats when the tix went on sale (that was the BEST I could get!!!). Well, I've since logged onto Ticket B@stard and gotten better seats, so I'm trying to unload the old ones. Anyway, I am MONDO excited about seeing JB in concert, again, this year... Hopefully, we'll make the Parking Lot Video again!!!

* * * * *

More to come, in the coming weeks..........................


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