If you're going to the Jimmy Buffett concert Saturday night at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, be in your seat by 8 p.m.
You do not want to miss Buffett's stage entrance. I'm not allowed to say what he does, but it's the best, funniest, most surprising entrance I've ever seen. And I've been to my share of Buffett concerts. Probably your share, too.
I'm a fan.
Monday I had total access to Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band's final rehearsal before their 2012 Lounging at the Lagoon tour starts in The Woodlands. The band began practicing two weeks ago in an empty warehouse near Austin. It was the first time an outsider was invited to a full-blown rehearsal. Here's what I heard and saw.
Technicians and crew arrived around 9 a.m. The stage had been set up since the start of rehearsals. It is the stage that Buffett will take on the road. The warehouse, front to back, was turned into a concert venue, complete with props, soundboard, lighting and video production areas and upstairs catering. The only thing missing was an audience. The place was eerily quiet.
If you weren't essential to the show, you had no business being there. There was a 6-foot-10 scary man at the door to keep out intruders.
Bicycles were leaned against aisle railings. The crew needs bikes to get around. There was a portable golf driving range at the back of the house. Tuesday was a day off. It sounded like everybody was planning to play 18.
Although the floor and seats were empty, the warehouse was decked out for a packed concert. Chaise lounges and "Lounging at the Lagoon" signs were set up outside the entrances for fans' photo opportunities. Pretty girls will be there to keep the line moving. The photo ops and chaise lounges were Buffett's idea.原帖地址: Jimmy Buffett Info http://www.buffettinfo.com/front-page-news/5692-ultimate-jimmy-buffett-fan-gets-sneak-peek-rehearsal.html#post7955
I learned that practically everything you see at a Jimmy Buffett concert was Buffett's idea. He's the boss, and everybody in the warehouse - 11 Coral Reefers, the lighting crew, six video technicians, four sound guys, two costume coordinators, two large security men, tour manager, accountant, IT wizard, Radio Margaritaville disc jockey, stage decorator and even the guy who runs onstage to hand guitars to Buffett - knows it. He's Bubba.
The band began playing at 3:30 p.m. without Buffett. It did a jazzy song called "Give Henry the Receipt," written and performed by backup singer Nadirah Shakoor, and dedicated to Buffett's tour accountant Henry Rosquette. He was there, too.
"I handle anything involving money," Rosquette said. "I give out the per diems. I pay security. I rent the facility. I pay the caterer and the light bill. I'm petty cash. I'm basically the payroll department."
Buffett arrived a few minutes later, wearing a white baseball cap, aviator sunglasses, white T-shirt, pink shorts and flip-flops. He headed straight to video production. The entrance was his idea, which has tricky special effects. He watched every inch of tape.
Buffett removed his cap and sunglasses, kicked off his flip-flops and climbed onstage at 4 p.m.
The video wall behind the band comprises 96 big-screen televisions. The stage is decorated to look like a lagoon. Buffett's usual coconut trees are replaced by swamp grass and hanging cypress trees.
The rehearsal lasted about three hours, lengthened by cutting up between songs, Buffett banter and an occasional blooper. Buffett couldn't get the beginning notes of "Jolly Mon" right, before realizing he had grabbed the wrong guitar.
Buffett wasn't happy with the video that accompanied "Come Monday." He told the video producer, "I have some newer video I shot last year in Montana on my bicycle and on a horse. Let's use that. Trust me, it will work better."
They did several takes of "Cheeseburger in Paradise" because Buffett wants to include "Na na na na na" from "Land of 1,000 Dances" before the "I like mine with lettuce and tomato" chorus.
He played 25 songs. This was the concert.
After the rehearsal, in the warehouse garage, I got a chance to talk to Buffett.
"This band has been with you for 24 years, a few of the guys even longer. You've been doing some of these songs for 40 years. Do you really need to rehearse them?"
Buffett said, "Rehearsal is very important. I do some new songs with each tour, and we need to learn them. Plus, I like to put some fresh paint on other songs. I'm going to write new verses to 'Margaritaville.' But mostly, we rehearse to give fans the best show we can. It's why we're still doing this 40 years later. There's a right way to do things, and that requires rehearsing. We respect the audience. It's just how this band does things.
"It's like what we're doing with 'Cheeseburger in Paradise.' I got the idea in my head a few days ago to put part of 'Land of 1,000 Dances' in there. Now it's 'Land of 1,000 Cheeseburgers.' We needed to rehearse that."
Coleman Sisson, who manages Radio Margaritaville for Buffett, put it this way: "Jimmy likes a professional atmosphere. That takes work."原帖地址: Jimmy Buffett Info http://www.buffettinfo.com/showthread.php?p=7955
Sisson lives in The Woodlands. He put a good word in for me; that's how I was invited to the rehearsal.
Everything about a Buffett concert looks casual, but nothing is left to chance. You think Buffett rolls out of bed, throws on a T-shirt and shorts, and plays in front of 17,000 people?
Helen Hiatt has been his wardrobe designer for 21 years. She buys his T-shirts from a store in Palm Beach. They're adult large.
"I dye them myself," Hiatt said. "They have a nice fit. Jimmy doesn't like them baggy, so when he changes guitars, his T-shirt doesn't move around and look sloppy. The T-shirts are 100-percent cotton, but they don't shrink. The neck and arm holes are very tight, so he's comfortable. I get him five T-shirts before each tour. After a concert, I just send them to a local 'Fluff 'n' Dry' laundry service to have them cleaned. We don't do anything special with them."
Hiatt also has designed stage outfits for Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul. She created the butt-less pants for Prince. She won an Emmy Award for her work with Cher.
Buffett has never had a wardrobe malfunction.
"When people find out I do the clothes for Jimmy, they ask, 'Oh, you buy his T-shirts and shorts?' I say, 'Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do.' I've worked with a lot of entertainers. Jimmy is the best. It's been 21 years, and I still look forward to the call that we're going on tour."
Buffett rehearsed in Austin because he has friends in the area and he likes the restaurants. The warehouse air conditioner was cranking full blast. It was about 60 degrees. Radio Margaritaville deejay Kirsten Winquist sat in the row in front of me. She rubbed her hands to stay warm. Buffett hired her six years ago straight out of Florida State University.
"I will be at The Woodlands concert. Jimmy puts every one of his concerts live on Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville :: Listen to Radio Margaritaville
, and I'll be doing a show before the concert," she said.
At 7 p.m., Buffett did his last encore and announced, "That's a wrap."
Immediately, stagehands began tearing down the stage and loading 500 cases of equipment onto a fleet of 18-wheeler trucks headed to The Woodlands - for the start of another Jimmy Buffett summer tour.
By Ken Hoffman