Friday, June 5, 2015

Once a Year

My e-ticket stub from last night's Jimmy Buffett concert.  Photo by J. Berta

Greetings All:

Last night, I got together with a few great friends and we saw Jimmy Buffett play in St. Louis last night.  I have a link to the show's review below in the sources.  Simply put, it was a great show and we certainly got our money's worth.

Jimmy Buffett is a genre unto himself in popular music.  Originally denied the Nashville acceptance he craved, he instead headed south to Key West.  From a few party hits, he has grown into his own entertainment industry.  Restaurants, tequila, beer, merchandise, a recording label, an online radio station, books and the list goes on to all things Buffett.  He even nailed his first music industry award with his song (with Alan Jackson), "It's five-o'clock somewhere."  

Yet it is the Buffett concert that is his trademark, his calling card.  It is a celebration of his music and lifestyle.  It's goofy fun, complete with beach balls bouncing through the crowd.

However, a Buffett show is more than just what goes on inside the venue.  The parking lot is turned into a tailgate atmosphere that would make any SEC fan (and Buffett did attend Auburn) nod in approval.   By the time the parking lot was opened for the "pre-concert activities" there was a line out to the access road.

Buffett fans are unique.  They have earned the nickname, "Parrotheads."  Supposedly, the name was born in 1985 (please see article below) and stuck wonderfully.  I recall (yet cannot find the citation) that Esquire magazine referred to "Parrotheads" as, "Deadheads with MBAs."  That sounds about right.  

However, the thousands of fans surpass any one category.  As I watched the crowds in the parking lot and at the concert, I saw multiple generations represented.  Considering Buffett has been going strong across five decades, it is not a stretch to see four generations of a family enjoying the fun.

And yes, there is fun to be had.  There were makeshift bars with portable blenders whipping up various concoctions.  To quote Buffett's trademark song, "Margaritaville,"  "...there's booze in the blender..."

Yet while there were ample adult beverages being enjoyed by the crowd., it was not a drunken mob.  I saw well-behaved folks having fun.  I saw brats exchanged for home made Margaritas and a general sense of good cheer and fellowship.  If there was one sound that dominated the parking lot, it would have to be laughter.

A Buffett concert is more than just Boat Drinks and Cheeseburgers in Paradise.  It is a chance for people to put aside their cares and forget about the daily grind for a few hours.  It was well worth the five hour drive to experience it.

At a Buffett concert, such rules are relaxed.  Photo by J. Berta.
 I try to get to a Buffett concert once a year.  It's a "guys' trip."  I consider myself fortunate that I am still in contact with friends I have known since college, in some cases, further back.  We get together, have a few beverages of our choice, and re-tell the same stories that elicit the same guaranteed roaring laughter it did at the first telling.  

We're all older, much older now.  We've got the tell-tale signs of being way-North of 40.  I don't say this out of angst.  I would not want to go back to my 20s or 30s.  I fully comprehend I am a damn lucky guy and was glad to get home and see my family this afternoon.  Still, it is time well-spent to get together with people who matter to you.  The Buffett concert just adds to the enjoyment.

One of the last songs of the night was "Southern Cross."  Originally done by Crosby, Stills & Nash, Buffett has worked it into his song list and it is a crowd favorite.  It is fast becoming my favorite song he performs.

One line in particular sticks with me:

"I have my ship and all her flags are a' flyin'..."

When that was played last night, I remember feeling quite wonderful.  I am usually not an "in the moment" guy.  Yet last night, at that time, I was.  For that, I was grateful.

The concert ended and we headed back to the parking lot.  As we walked back, I realized that it would almost certainly be another year before I had this experience.  I did experience a moment of melancholy.  Then it passed.  I knew I had this experience, with my friends.  This mattered to me.  Even if it was only a few hours and even if it was only once a year.  

And once a year is enough.

Be well my friends,



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