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Random Jimmy Buffett


From the archives of the
Original article ......

Thursday, March 28, 2002

Jimmy Buffett, who performed at Duke's Canoe Club in Waikiki last
Thursday, vows to return to Honolulu for a concert in the fall.

Buffett indulges
his sense of adventure

A new album,
"Far Side of the World,"
pays fond tribute to legends
Martin Denny and Gardner McKay

By Tim Ryan

The door to the Presidential Suite at the Royal Hawaiian opens slowly.

Peeking around the corner is a beaming Jimmy Buffett -- fresh from his impromptu Waikiki Beach concert.

"I am very humbled to meet you," Buffett says to his visitor, 90-year-old musician Martin Denny, his face also beaming. "Thank you so much for taking the time to come by."

Denny, wearing his traditional Panama hat, only a few hours earlier asked a friend, "So, who is this Jimmy Buffett anyway? And why does he want to meet me?"

Buffett laughs when told of Denny's questions.

"Martin was the coolest guy around back in the '50s and early '60s," Buffett says. "My mom had his albums and I listened to them for a long time 'cuz I couldn't afford to buy records.

"His music captured the magic of adventure and escapades. My own dreams used that music as a backdrop."

Martin Denny, left, and Buffett meet after the latter
requested an introduction to the music legend.
Buffett said Denny's music carried a sense of
"adventure and escapades."

On Buffett's just released album "Far Side of the World" he pays homage in the song "Altered Boy (Beware Paraguay)" to Denny's music and to a Hawaii friend, the late actor Gardner McKay, who had starred in the TV series "Adventures in Paradise."

"It's an absolute tribute to these guys," Buffett says. "They started it all for me; they lived the adventures I dreamed about."

During the concert at Duke's restaurant last Thursday, Denny was amazed to see the 2,000-member audience singing along with Buffet. He exclaimed, "It's something like a cult, isn't it?"

THAT IT IS, with fans falling in the 18- to 80-year-old range knowing the nuances of every song Buffett, 55, has recorded over more than three decades as a singer-songwriter.

His 34th album, released last week, is "Far Side of the World." The 12-track album is the first released on his label Mailboat, and includes eight original songs, although none are quite as catchy as a "Margaritaville" or "Son of a Sailor."

The title song is based, in part, on Buffet's trip to Africa in late 2000.

"There are biographical sketches in the album of certain periods of my life, so out of it came this introspective thing," Buffett says. "I don't know if that comes from being older and a bit more philosophical, or just feeling 'Screw it, I'm doing my own thing.' "

Not that the Mississippi-born entertainer has ever had a problem doing his own thing. This time around it just means having his own record label to back his work.

"I kinda outlived and outperformed the system," Buffett says. "People running record companies aren't geared to acts like us. They can't figure out what we do or why people still come to see us.

"But they always suggest changes. Imagine that."

Buffett says he turned down "a whole lot of money" to stay with his longtime record label when his contract expired.

"They wanted to pass that cost onto my fans through my albums so I just politely bailed," he said. "I didn't sue 'em, I didn't scream at 'em", just sorta said a-l-o-h-a."

Behind his large, dark aviator glasses Buffett is smiling mischievously.

"What I'm doing Is not good for the record industry, and I kinda love that," he says. "When I wrote the song 'Far Side of the World' I wanted to write an epic piece -- to tell a real story. Any record exec would have complained that's too long.

"When you own the label no one can tell you that. 'Altered Boy' is eight minutes, so we went crazy on the thing, but hell, why not? It works."

Buffett doesn't have to worry about attracting fans or money, though he points out it's taken three decades to reach multimillionaire status. He owns several homes, including one in Key West, Fla., and Sag Harbor, New York, as well as several airplanes, including the $12 million Dassault Falcon 50 he piloted to Hawaii along with a small entourage, surfboards and two other licensed pilots, both Vietnam vets.

BUFFETT HAS ALWAYS maintained a basic theory about his continued popularity with "Parrotheads" and his increasing younger fan base.

"I know who they are and what they expect," he said. "We've remained true to being performers while we also chase the record career.

"I haven't won a lot of big awards, but when you've been around as long as I have, you do sell records."

Four of Buffett's last five albums have sold gold.

But there's a more basic and obvious reason why Buffett keeps performing. And celebrated Hawaii performer Don Ho has the answer.

"You know what they haven't figured out yet about us yet, Jimmy?" says Ho, wrapping his arm around Buffett's shoulder during the after-concert reception. "We both retired 20 years ago and now we're just having fun. Why else would we do this?"

Buffett howls with laughter.

"That's it, Don," he says. "Hell, we can go out and do anything we want."

Which is how the Waikiki Beach concert happened. During a lunch at Duke's restaurant about a year-and-a-half ago, Buffett and promoter Tom Moffatt were listening to an open-air performance by Henry Kapono.

"It was so cool; I knew I wanted to do that, but without any heavy promotion," he said. "I never in my wildest dreams ever thought I would write a set list that started out 'Tiny Bubbles' and in parenthesis 'with Don Ho' on the beach in Waikiki."

Buffett, Moffatt and partner Shep Gordon organized the concert just two days before it took place. The 90-minute solo performance was broadcast over Buffett's Radio Margaritaville Web site.

Besides surfing on Maui, Buffett was putting the finishing touches on his latest book, a collection of short stories called "A Salty Piece of Land" that includes pieces about Cuba, the space shuttle launch with John Glenn and a fishing tale.

FOR THOSE WHO missed the concert this time, he plans to return to Honolulu for a concert in August or September, at the end of his mainland tour. The band has an offer to perform an America's Cup celebration in New Zealand that might delay the Hawaii performance, though in pure Buffett fashion, the singer says, "I'd love to do 'em both. Why not?"

Then Buffett the adventurer kicks in.

"I want to fish my way through the Pacific," he says. "There are a lot of bonefish out there and I could start in Hawaii and end in New Zealand.

"Maybe get a few stories for a book, ideas for songs; find some uncrowded surf; meet people."

Then, that mischievous smile returns.

"Damn, I still really want to do a concert in Diamond Head crater before I die. There's gotta be a way to do it so everyone benefits."