11:30 a.m. July 20---
I've always wanted to visually document Tropical Tailgating before a Jimmy Buffett concert at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wis. Despite a fading recording industry, his concert audience continues to grow because of his shrewd (and fun) marketing sensibilities.
Saturday, 7/19 was no exception.
The noontime heavens were grey when we were drinking Bloody Marys and having German-Fried bratwurst at the legendary Brat Stop in Kenosha (gotta get the Laack's cheddar chese curds to go), but by late afternoon it was a picture perfect sky that kissed the funky Alpine ski lodge.
The concert was sold out, drawing nearly 40,000 fans. I still get goosebumps when I look at the crowded lawn during a love song like Buffett's "Come Monday." I think of passionate White Sox owner Bill Veeck who said there was nothing as beautiful as a full baseball stadium. That's how I feel at a Buffett show.
I'm guessing 5,000-7,000 fans were camped out in the parking lot before the show. Gates opened at 1 p.m. Showtime was 8 p.m. The rural setting of Alpine and nearby Lake Geneva draws fans from all over America, which is why Buffett makes this an annual stop. On stage Saturday Buffett mentioned people who trekked in from Colorado, North Dakota, Tucson, Az. and Hawaii.
With the cooperation of Buffett's management and Scott Gelman at Live Nation, here's some precious video of Saturday's pre-concert festivities. It was combat duty. My favorite sight? The group of middle-aged housewives from Sugar Grove, Ill. called "Steel Crazy." [www.steelcrazyband.com] They actually set up about 10 steel drums under a tent in the parking lot and played beautiful Buffett songs like "One Particular Harbor" and "A Pirate Looks at 40." Take a look..........