The local arena, Verizon Arena in Little Rock, made an announcement a few days ago that they had a major concert announcement coming up. Everybody got excited, and everyone hoped for something different. A lot of people asked for a new “Country” concert like Blake Shelton or Eric Church. Then, the announcement came…JIMMY BUFFETT! Many people claimed to be disappointed, and made comments like “Nobody wants to see that!” or “Get somebody relevant!”, which was rather odd to see. Jimmy Buffett is rare to these parts. Last year, he played a show at Verizon Arena, and it sold out in, practically, seconds after it went on sale. I got tickets to that show, so I know first hand that the comments of “Nobody wants to see that!” and “Get somebody relevant!” are absolutely false. The day of the show, North Little Rock was, pretty much, blocked off. All the Jimmy Buffett fans, Parrotheads, flooded the streets, going to tailgate parties, and filling up every restaurant and bar within a 5 mile radius. Parking was slim to none, throughout the entire area. One place we went to said they completely sold out of Jimmy’s Landshark Beer. Every person I could see walking through town had on Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville brand T-Shirts, shorts, flip flops, hats, etc. At the tailgate parties, people used Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville brand frozen drink machine. Then, it was time for the show. Twenty thousand people started walking to the arena, almost at the same time. A few people had on battery-powered shark fins on their heads that lit up. Once we got inside, everybody ran to the merchandise and concession stands, buying all the Jimmy Buffett shirts, CD’s, posters, hats, jewelry, shot glasses, tote bags, and frozen drink mixes that they could get their hands on! Just for this special show, you could buy Margaritaville brand Margaritas at the concession stands. Those sold like hot cakes! After about an hour of that, everyone took their seats. The lights started to dim, as the song “Tequila” came over the speakers. As the last “TEQUILA!” of the song filled the arena, Jimmy walked onstage, and you couldn’t hear a word he said, over the 20,000 screaming people! After the screams died down, he said “Hello, Little Rock. WE’RE BACK!” Then, he introduced his opening act, who came on and played 3 songs, then exited the stage, as the lights faded, and “Hot, Hot, Hot” came on the speakers, as two of Jimmy’s crew members came onstage to launch T-Shirts out of special shark-shaped launchers. They danced around, getting the crowd ready for about 3 minutes, then the band came onstage and began to play “Piece Of Work”. Jimmy walked onstage, and once again, 20,000 people screamed so loud that he could’ve played Yankee Doodle Dandy out of key, and nobody would’ve noticed. The show went for about two and a half hours. We left right before the last encore, which was one of Jimmy’s famous solo acoustic encores, Lovely Cruise. So, when I saw the announcement of Jimmy’s return to Arkansas the other day, and I read the comments about “Get somebody relevant!”, I couldn’t help but laugh. Normally, it’s not easy to sell out an arena, even for newer acts. Blake Shelton and Eric Church don’t typically sell out. Not saying anything about their music, for once. Just a fact. Other shows just come to town, and leave, without any big deal being made about them. No city-wide tailgate parties. No audience from about 6 or 7 different states at one show. Also, Jimmy Buffett, if I recall, has made hit songs out of duets with new artists such as Alan Jackson, Zac Brown, and Toby Keith. People refer to those artists as relevant, yet, they can’t easily sell out around 20,000 seats, when their shows go on sale. So, obviously, if one man can be in a town, for one night, for one show, and not only sell out the entire arena within seconds, but sell enough shirts, CD’s, beer, frozen drink mixers, flip flops, and hats to make the entire city of Little Rock look like one big Margaritaville logo, you can hardly call him irrelevant.
Here’s a video of Jimmy from the Little Rock show last year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2S67AYe1Dw
Here’s the intro I was talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXN8Q0yQvSI