Chris Johnson: Bringing Jimmy Buffett to my own backyard

June 1, 2014 

I've seen Jimmy Buffett in concert at least eight times since 1999 -- maybe nine, maybe 12. Because I usually have maybe nine, maybe 12 margaritas in the parking lot before the show, it's a little tough to recall.

So, I was a little frustrated last year that his annual pilgrimage to Atlanta came at the same time I was to be in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for a work project. And to add insult to injury, there was a Margaritaville restaurant just a week or so from opening on the Boardwalk.

Oh well, I swore that I wouldn't miss the next time Buffett came to Atlanta.

I lied. But I had good reason. For some unknown reason, he decided to play little Chastain Park instead of huge Lakewood. And he decided to play on a Tuesday night.

That poses a couple of problems -- one, because Chastain is so small, the ticket prices are not small; and, two, the area around Chastain is not suited for tailgating, and as any decent Parrothead knows, a Buffett concert is all about the tailgating.

So, with no tailgating and no way I'm spending $130 per ticket to sit on the lawn at Chastain, what's a Parrothead to do? Simple, bring Buffett to the backyard.

Fortunately, Jimmy Buffett is worth about as much money as Warren Buffett, which means he can run things the way he wants. And Jimmy decided years ago that since his concerts sell out in a few minutes anyway, why not broadcast them live for free on Radio Margaritaville.

My wife (who has been to just two shows … embarrassing) and I decided to turn Tuesday night into a backyard Buffett concert. All we had to do was throw up a few tacky decorations, including our new light-up palm tree, fire up the Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker and stream the Atlanta show live through our speakers on the back porch.

And this year, there was an added touch to make it feel even more like we were there -- Margaritaville.TV. Now, not only could we hear the show live, but we could see it and with much better views than we would have had at Chastain.

Now, I'll definitely go see Jimmy live again because Parrothead tailgating is practically a religious experience -- especially if your preacher wears a fin on his head, the choir

director is a pirate and parishioners line up to drink rum flowing from a giant volcano being towed by a pickup truck.

However, I must say that this make-do concert in the backyard had its advantages. For instance:

• We got to use our own bathroom instead of a steamy, overflowing portable potty that's been basking in the sun all day.

• We didn't have to drive in Atlanta, the city that always wants to grow but doesn't need to.

• Instead of 19,000 people singing along with every word to every Buffett song, there were only two of us singing along -- including one who knew all the right words.

• We were only about 8 feet from Buffett as he sang, and I just can't afford to otherwise sit that close in person.

• Instead of driving two hours to get home, it took us about 15 seconds to get from the show to our own soft bed.

• And, best of all, if I got caught looking at a pretty lady in a cute tropical getup, my wife had no problem with it. I was even allowed to go right up to the pretty lady and ask, "Would you like a margarita?" without my wife slapping me in the back of the head.

I don't know what Jimmy Buffett's plans are for his next swing through Georgia. My preference is to catch him live again before he gets too old to remember the words we Parrotheads are singing in the audience.

But I can guarantee you that I will be tailgating -- either at a decent-sized venue or my own little backyard. It's up to you, Jimmy.

-- Connect with Chris Johnson at Facebook.com/KudzuKidWriting or on Twitter @kudzukid88.

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