This year's official Jazz Fest poster of headliner Jimmy Buffett was painted by WWL radio's Garland Robinette.
As an artist, broadcaster, and modern-day "Renaissance Man," Garland calls himself "The Luckiest Man in the World."
"I came back from Vietnam, and I was in charge of urinal cakes at a refinery," according to Garland. "And within about four or five months later, I was an anchor at a TV station in a large market...and I would sketch in the corners of the TV script, because I was nervous."
Co-workers told him his doodles were actually very good. "The head of Loyola University happened to see the sketches, and asked me to do a portrait for the school.. and I said, 'That's great, who is it?' And they said, 'The Pope.' And just like that, I was a professional artist."
Garland's painting, titled "Busking Out: Becoming Jimmy Buffett," captures the long ties that Buffett has had with the city of New Orleans.
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Everyone starts somewhere. Emerging musicians have drifted to New Orleans from near and far for a century and more, knowing they can earn a living on its streets as they hone their craft – a practice called busking. And while most think jazz is the sole attraction, musical styles, like so many things, blur in the gumbo of humanism that sets New Orleans apart. Many such venturers go unnoticed, but all who play here in their formative years carry a bit of the rue within them forever. That Jimmy Buffett’s latest album – more than four decades after he first drove to New Orleans – has a tune called Will Play for Gumbo, proves this.ĺŽźĺ¸–ĺś°ĺť€: Jimmy Buffett Info http://www.buffettinfo.com/front-page-news/2874-video-buffett-jazz-fest-poster-unveiled-painted-garland-robinette.html#post3559
If you ambled through the French Quarter in the mid-60’s you might have come upon a college student from Mississippi with long hair, a beat-up guitar, a few chords and an old Ford. If you lingered on the corner of Conti and Chartres late at night, you glimpsed the future. If you dropped some coins in his cigar box, you helped shape its sound.
As Jimmy recalls it, "On weekends I was out of Poplarville as fast as my Ford Falcon would take me. In those days, folk music was happening in New Orleans. New Orleans competed on the world stage at all levels. The Bayou Room was smack-dab in the heart of the Bourbon Street strip joints. The people who taught me as much about being a performer as anybody performed on that little stage. After the last show, I would make my way with my gig bag and set up shop on the corner of Chartres and Conti. I will never, ever forget the first time someone actually dropped money into my cigar box and told me I was good. I would bang away till the wee hours of the morning, until my cuticles bled or there was no one listening. Then I would count my money, close up shop, and relax at the Morning Call with a cup of café au lait and an order of beignets.” ĺŽźĺ¸–ĺś°ĺť€: Jimmy Buffett Info http://www.buffettinfo.com/showthread.php?p=3559
So pay attention as you walk the Quarter. You may witness the future and be blessed with an opportunity to shape it. If so, linger a bit and pay tribute. Remember, street musicians place heart and soul at your feet and you are part of that act. If you play your part, they’ll thrive and return your kindness a thousand-fold. To this day, Jimmy can be glimpsed on the streets of New Orleans, at the CAC or a Saints game, in his Margaritaville Café or headlining Jazz Fest, which he has done more than anyone else (and was early to commit to the post-Katrina 2006 Festival, clearing away uncertainly and inspiring others to join in its rebirth). Passing through means never leaving – and certainly not wasting away.
Everyone in the Gulf South from Texas to Florida knows Garland Robinette as the singularly intelligent voice of reason in a region battered to the limits of endurance by disasters, natural and otherwise. As the mid-day host on WWL, the 50,000-watt powerhouse radio station that reaches over two million people, he talks the despairing off the ledge and weaves narrative lines from tangled webs. If talk radio everywhere followed Garland’s warm rational humility, we’d be living in a less fractious world. In addition to moderating competing ideologies within the region, he has become the face of New Orleans to the nation, explaining the issues facing the area on NBC, MSNBC and PBS.
What many don’t know about this Boutte, Louisiana native is that he is an equally accomplished painter first recognized – as were all classical masters – by the Church, when the Archdiocese of New Orleans tapped him to paint Pope John Paul II’s official portrait commemorating the Holy See’s historic 1984 visit. Since then he has quietly painted the portraits of other bold-faced (though perhaps less exalted) persons of note, from CEO’s to celebrities, as well as scenes from his rich imagination.
For the Jazz Festival poster, Garland literally took pages from Buffett’s autobiography & imagined what it would have been like to meet the child who was father to the man on the streets of New Orleans in 1967. He pictures Jimmy at the corner he worked until night melted to dawn. His trusty Falcon is parked, waiting to transport him back to college after his weekend gig filled his cigar box to the brim. Flying off in the distance is a parrot, prefiguring Buffett’s eventual departure for Key West. And if you look closely, on the sidewalk behind the Falcon, you’ll see the contemporary Jimmy Buffett walking into the future, looking over his shoulder at the young man who would eventually catapult him to international acclaim. Robinette’s glorious image is heightened by this allegory, spanning and compressing the past, present and future in a magnificently realized image.
As his portrait of Jimmy Buffett amply demonstrates, painting is a career that will one day eclipse the accolades Robinette has earned as a journalist. For those of us who admire his art as much as rely on his reassuring rationalism, it’s hard to urge him to give up one for the other. Fortunately, Garland doesn’t require that we do so. He does both with extraordinary talent and grace. Man, this Cajun sure can paint, eh cher?