For Parrotheads — those colorful aloha-shirted fans of Jimmy Buffett — it doesn't take much to get a party started. But when the king Parrothead himself is in town, as Buffett was at Cricket Pavilion Tuesday night, it's kind of like a birthday and Christmas rolled into one.
For a Parrothead, the party starts early, as it did for Carrie, a colorfully outfitted woman who found me, decked out in a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops, perusing the chip aisle at Albertson's on Scottsdale and Thomas roads at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
“Are you going to the concert tonight?” Carrie asked me.
“Sure, Jimmy Buffett,” I said. “You?”
“Yep,” she beamed over a cart full of Coronas and tortilla chips. “Do they allow coolers in there?”
“I don't know,” I said. “But you can have them in the parking lot.”
The parking lot, after all, is half of the fun of a Buffett show, where Parrotheads of all shapes and sizes congregate and share beer and burgers. Carrie and I make tentative plans to meet up in the lot before the show.
The first person I see as I pull into the Cricket Pavilion parking lot is a dude dressed like a banana. This isn't some guy in a Carmen Miranda hat of bananas and oranges — this fella is done up head to to in a banana suit.
“I got this in 1996 after I rented it, ruined it and had to buy it,” said “John from Mexico” of the somewhat-stained banana costume. “I am wearing it in honor of my friend Mike Hemphill who has pancreatic cancer and couldn't make it out tonight.”
Parrotheads, I find, are a colorful bunch who are only too willing to share their stories of how they came to be at the Cricket Tuesday night. Leroy Wensel, from Wisconsin, who gave his age as “older than Jimmy,” was attending his third Buffett show.
“This is just the Caribbean lifestyle everybody wants,” said Wensel as a group of Parrotheads, dressed in grass skirts, walked past. “This music transcends generations.”
As sort of the good-natured court jester in the kingdom of rock ’n’ roll, Buffett led the festivities as if he were the barker in a three-ring circus, playing his expected hits such as “Come Monday,” “One Particular Harbor” and his only Top 10 pop hit ,“Margaritaville” from 1977. The fact that Buffett plays a greatest hits show doesn't seem to deter the Parrotheads, who ranged in age from toddlers with leis wrapped around their necks to folks like my new friend Carrie from Dallas.
I didn't see her in the parking lot, but I'm sure she, like the rest of Buffett’s frenzied flock, had a great, escapist time under the Arizona stars that could just have well been shining in the Caribbean.
"Son Of A Son Of A Sailor"
"Peanut Butter Conspiracy"
"Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes"
"The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful"
"Pencil Thin Mustache"
"I Will Play For Gumbo"
"Cheeseburger In Paradise"
"Bank Of Bad Habits"
"One Particular Harbour"
"Why Don't We Get Drunk"
"Uncle Johns Band"
"Delaney Talks to Statues"
"She's Got You"
"Everybody's Got A Cousin In Miami"
"Window on the World"
"It's Five O'Clock Somewhere"
"Party at the End of the World"
"A Pirate Looks at Forty"