In just a few days, Jimmy Buffett kicks off his 2017 summer tour in Vegas. So, it seems like a perfect time for a light-hearted piece about my first (and so far only) Jimmy Buffett concert a few years ago at Comerica Park.
Top Ten Reflections on our First Jimmy Buffett Saturday:
10) Morning – Most of you know that I am a cyclist, and one of my all-time favorite places to road ride is Belle Isle in Detroit. It’s 5.4 miles (or so) per counter-clockwise lap, a one way road with a great surface that varies from two to four lanes wide. The chance to group ride, motor pace, compete against the locals, and weave in and out of the vehicle traffic limited to 25 mph makes it a great challenge, and absolutely fun. Given that, spending Saturday morning doing 13 laps (70 miles) on Belle Isle is the perfect way to not only start the day, but also give yourself permission to eat and drink whatever you want for the next several hours during the tailgate and concert.
9) Park and Tailgate – Pick a football powerhouse… ANY powerhouse… and I’m telling you, compared to Parrot Heads, all football fans (no matter the team) are rank amateurs when it comes to tailgating. Jimmy Buffett fans are without question the most enthusiastic, creative, dedicated, happy, friendly and partying tailgaters in the world! We pulled into a typical ugly urban abandoned-property broken-surface parking lot. And THEN… Out of the back of SUV’s and Minivans came the typical barbecue grills, stereo systems and nine course meals. HOWEVER, within no time there were also beaches, complete with actual sand AND palm trees, pools filled with water AND people in bathing suits, Tiki bars with functioning beer and margarita taps, and women (and men) in grass skirts and sea shell/coconut bikini tops… and this was just what we could see from where we were tailgating. All this and there’s also a concert!!
8) General Atmosphere – Making new friends while tailgating was a blast! As I said, Parrot Heads are the most friendly, most relaxed, most welcoming and happy collection of pre-event partygoers I’ve ever seen. In addition to that, I ran into Big Ed, an old MSU friend that I’d not seen in way too many years, what a priceless moment!
7) Well, Let’s Head In – Our dear friend Kari arranged for us to get a VIP/Police escort into Comerica Park through the Tigers Executive Offices, and then ride their elevator up to the 4th level right to our seats. It was amazing, all of these totally wonderful things happening to us, and the concert is still an hour away. At the end of the night, we got to go back out pretty much the same way we came in. Thanks again to Kari for making all the arrangements, putting us up in style, and loving us like Family! She is the BEST!
6) Opening Act – Even at age 64, Jackson Browne has still got it! Hit after hit after hit. Tight sound, full vocal range, and every tune sounded just as fresh as they did decades ago. And to think, this is all still “pre-game!”
5) Showtime – When it comes to live music, my friends know that I am NOT easily impressed, and Jimmy and the Coral Reefer Band were even better than I’d anticipated. However, throughout the course of the show I couldn’t decide which was more impressive, what was coming from the stage, or what was happening out in the seats. JB Parrot Heads seem to have an almost spiritual commitment to enjoy the evening, and they do indeed know how to party. No posturing or pretentiousness or sitting on their ass and texting, everyone is family, interacting casually with their friends and neighbors. They dance, sing, laugh, smile, hug and do everything they can to have (and share) as much fun as possible. Big Ed has been to something like 60 or 70 Buffett shows, and seeing all of this I began to understand why.
4) Favorite Song of the Night – Fins! Practically every song is a blast, but this one was especially fun for me, suddenly everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) in Comerica was a choreographed part of the show. Even the Cops were doing “fins” to the left and right. On the stage, great interplay between the horns, guitars, keys and drums, with everyone in sight laughing all the way. How can this not be fun?!?!
3) Favorite Moment – From the beginning of the day until the end of the evening, there were simply too many to list. It left me feeling a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for the life that I have and the delightful things I get to do. I’m pretty lucky.
2) Saving the Best for Last – It was a great day all around, for all of the reasons stated, and one in particular: I firmly believe that when it all comes down to the pure essence of the moment, it’s not about where you are or what you’re doing… It’s truly ALL about the PEOPLE with whom you are sharing that experience…
1) I was with My Wife Shari.