Jimmy Buffett Alpine Video

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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..........

....I used to see the this community-inspired vibe before and during a Grateful Dead show. But it is not breaking news to report that "Deadheads" were more into pot and mushrooms where Buffett's "Parrotheads" are into beer (Landshark Lager, I guess) and tequila (Margaritaville, of course.). Walworth County sherrif's police wore Hawaiian leis as they patrolled the crowd. I don't recall Chicago cops wearing tie-dyed shirts when the Dead set up camp at Soldier Field.
The concert itself was remarkable. Buffett's fine band was as tight as usual and on stage shennaigans were kept to a minimum. The nice surprise for hard core Buffett fans was the return of blues harmonica player Greg "Fingers" Taylor to the fold. Taylor's searching riffs are to Buffett what Mickey Raphael's harp is to Willie Nelson.
Taylor emerged in a surprise set after intermission. Buffett told me that during this years New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival he was out with Quint Davis of the Jazz Fest and some folks from the edgy Cajun/Southern restaurant Cochon (930 Tchoupitoulas, www.cocchonrestaurant.com) when they stumbled across a hard driving Mississippi-based act "The Juke Joint Duo." Turned out they were drummer Cedric Burnside, the grandson of electric Mississippi blues great R.L. Burnside and his guitar slinging partner in crime Lightin' Malcom.
Cedric Burnside, who appeared in the film "Black Snake Moan" with Samuel L. Jackson is a fierce spot-on drummer who guided the band through "Hey, Bo Diddley," a tribute to another one of Mississppi's favorite sons. The center stage summit between Malcom, Buffett's guitarist Mac McAnally, Taylor and Buffett was sparked by improvisational energy. They tore the roof off the place---well, if Alpine had a roof.
The vibe continued through the rest of evening, peaking at the band's rowdy cover of the Crosby, Stills and Nash hit "Southern Cross" and the countryfied encore version of Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women 12 X 35." Sound strange? Dylan and Joan Baez once dueted on "A Pirate Looks at 40." And magical evenings like Saturday night at Alpine Valley only come around once in a while.

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Jimmy Buffett, Alpine Valley, Saturday Night

It's like Christmas, the 4th of July and your birthday all rolled in to one very special evening.

All who were there will be smiling and remembering the show for weeks if not months to come. Until of course, he comes back.

Thanks Anne.
Where did you travel from to get to Alpine?

My fiance and I traveled from Camanche,IA.This is the third concert in a row. Great time every year and I try to not miss any at Alpine Valley. Next year I will miss it due to a tour to Iraq. But hey somtimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Hey Chris.
Sometimes I think they overdo it with the video screens, but we were touched by the footage of Jimmy and Mac performing for the servicemen on the U.S.S. Harry Truman over the live version of "Son of a Sailor." Best of luck to you and your fiance,


I was so SAD I missed Saturday night and even had a tkt. The vid helps take the edge off the fact that I couldn't go. :( grrrrrrrrrrrrr
next year I am SO there if I have to hitchhike.
Thanks for sharing the story and vid. i listened to a whole bunch of Jimmy tunes on my ipod yesterday while exercising.

The tailgating is the best part of the concert! This year was a little different in that a trip to the emergency room had to be made an hour into our tailgate. 11 stitches and two hours later, my mom came back ready to party. She wouldn't miss Jimmy for anything!

I was so SAD I missed Saturday night and even had a tkt. The vid helps take the edge off the fact that I couldn't go. :( grrrrrrrrrrrrr
next year I am SO there if I have to hitchhike.
Thanks for sharing the story and vid. i listened to a whole bunch of Jimmy tunes on my ipod yesterday while exercising.

Good story and concert review. This show was my 7th and they are always good. My wife and I prefer to hear Jimmy and the Reefers play songs that are not the standard faire. Not only do we get to hear an old song live, but we can pick out the true fans as they sing along to songs like "Homemade Music". We always get a kick out of the people behind us saying, "When did he write that song?" (note: Homemade Music is on the Hot Water album.)

Your video is representative of just part of the "phlocking". Yes, the pre-show party is a good time. Yes, I am all about people having fun. BUT - the closer we got to show time, the more the Green Lot began to represent the second version of the "Fall of the Roman Empire". Where in one of Jimmy's songs does it describe a topless, college aged (?) female laying over a cooler, being covered in whipped cream and having mutiple stange males lick the goo off her body?

Sorry - but I came to a concert, not spring break.

It's about the MUSIC, people!!!

Jeff in Des Moines, IA.

Great video and story Dave. Have known for years that your're a Parrothead so always look for your column when Alpine is on the horizon. We've been Buffett concertgoers for more than 20 years and have seen him in lots of places. Always loved Alpine, but we're now into the pavilion seating as we've "outgrown" the lawn. His band is the best and Fingers was a treat. Even Jimmy looked surprised by the reception he got from the crowd.

Sat next to a couple from Iowa that said they surely needed this getaway after what they've been through this year.

Jimmy does that for all of us.

Linda in Geneva, IL

Thanks Linda, the story about the people in Iowa is important. We may post some blog only video outtakes later this week so stay tuned.
Take care,

This was our 3rd Buffett concert. The first 2 were in Tinley Park, IL. Unfortunately we had a bad concert experience. When we went into the concert we couldnt move, they were packed in like sardines. We couldnt even see the screens, couldnt hear, were getting trampled because we could not move beyond the center isle. So after 45 mins of concert we retreated to the RV, very sad. We had Buffett virgins that will never go back, and the rest of will never go back to Alpine. Seems like they way oversold the concert. Is it like that every year at Alpine? : (

I hated going to Tinley Park, bad sound, no ambiance. Alpine never seemed oversold to me. We wandered about the lawn towards the end of Saturday's show. Even people at the very top of the hill were into it. I'd be curious to see how Toyota Park goes down. Can't make those shows---gotta see the Cubs on Thursday nite.

Thanks for your comment,

It was a great time! My second time at Alpine for the show. Ok, one question, what is the significance of the monkey?


Good question. Maybe auditioning for a Geico commercial.
You should see what we weren't allowed to shoot!!!

Well it was another Great expereance of friends and crazy people on our bus!, 6 of them and 300 campers on our Salty piece of land, about 8 miles from Alpine Valley! it Started Friday With Matt Wahl, and the Cedar Island Band. Sat. we had Music by Dj Bill Corey and left to explore the lots at Alpine at 1pm. It was an awesome show that we will talk about for a long time. if interested in our Buffett adventure go to www.two-seasons-bowl for info and to see photos of this years show and from previous years too.

Thanks to who were there!! Phins Up!

Bruce Kudick
Two Seasons Bowl
830 N Wisconsin Street
Elkhorn WI 53121

P.S Our moto is "No Parrothead left Behind"
See you all next year!!

Great article and video Dave. I wanted to recognize the Cedar Island Band who played the last 2 years on the VIP stage before and after Jimmy Buffett. They don't get mentioned and they are really a great tribute band. They also played at Bruce's, Two Season Bowl on the 18th the night ahead of the concert which makes for a perfect weekend. The band has a great harmony and really projects well. They sing tropical songs and write and sing their own music too. They have been asked to play at the National Parrothead Convention in Key West, Florida this November on the Main Stage and hope to meet Jimmy some day soon.
Key West Bound,
Cindy B.

great show been going to alpine forconcerts since 1985 and buffett draws the best, we sat behing rail in lawn by beer deck saw perfect, dean from bartlett il

Thanks Dean.
Good memories at Alpine; saw the Stones there...can't remember the tour, but Living Color opened. Also saw Springsteen there--maybe "The River" tour? ---Dave

Great review! You did mean "A Pirate Looks At Forty" was the duet by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan! :)

"Sound strange? Dylan and Joan Baez once dueted on "Come Monday." And magical evenings like Saturday night at Alpine Valley only come around once in a while."


Or did they really duet on "Come Monday" also?

Yes Nancy, I think I stand corrected.
I read about it in one of Jimmy's books....But I speedblog. I'll get the details and post a later blog this week. We may have some bonus footage.
Take care and thanks,

Well put on your article! The video is awesome! What a surprise to see I'm in it. I'm the guy in the last clip on top of the short bus. What a great time! My girlfriend, her brother, son and his friend (2 Buffett virgins) made the trip. My 14th show (5th @ Alpine Valley). Seeing me on your video is the icing on the cake!
Fins up!
Scott Ward
Grand Rapids, Mi.

Great article & video.Some friends & I go to Wisconsin to see Jimmy & some other great parrothead friends all the way from Grand Rapids,Mi.It's a great venue & they don't hassle you if you want to tailgate before/after the concert.We've seen him other places but like Alpine Valley the best.What are we going to do when Jimmy retires?? Just carry on with the parties without him I guess.

Dave, thanks for the video! after many many indoor venues (MN...) - my first outdoor phlocking, we hatched 6 new parrotheads last weekend and they decided we have a new "annual". Certainly not an intimate venue...get there early, enjoy the show before the show, we went inside about 6:30pm - sat high on the hill-center stage and saw a great parrothead PARTY! BTW, Liz, my read on monkeys...from Flesh & Bone, we are just "a bunch of monkeys with PHD's"???

The video was awesome! This is my 10th Buffett concert at Alpine and I was lovin' every minute of it! I was just a shocked to see myself on the video as well! It just reminds you that no matter what you do, you may end up on the Internet!!

To the person that thought the concert was way over-sold...where were you sitting that you couldn't see the screens and packed like sardines?! The lawn are is usually pretty roomy. You missed a great show!

Cedar Island Band was mentioned in another post. Here's the URL: www.cedarislandband.net Order their FANTASTIC tropical, Buffett-inspired cd online at www.cedarislandband.net

Hey Dave! Great article & video. If you are going to the show next year at Alpine Valley, you will have to stop by the VIP Club where my Cedar Island Band will be performing for the 3rd year in a row. We'll even let you sing with us onstage! I've been going to Jimmy's shows since 1978 and it's and honor and a thrill to be able to perform at the same venue he is. I've met most of the Coral Reefers, but have yet to meet the man. Fins Up!

Doug Rassler
The Cedar Island Band

Alpine is great and it beats MSP/STP in Feb. I have been a ParrotHead since 78. Ya got my parrot on my shoulder but not me, in the video. The tailgate party has something for everyone and if you dont want to see certan things then dont look near the buses - just come at show time and watch the concert. It is good to see all the parrokeets turning into ParrotHeads. The music can cross 4 decades and a loyal following that sells out a concert in 10 min, from an artist that couldn't be cast as pop or country and only gets little airplay.

Thank you everyone for posting your thoughts! This is the FIRST time that I have not caught a Alpine (or numerous concerts) since 1993! - but my family and I moved to Luxembourg this year, hard to justify the plane ticket back.....we do have tickets for the Paris show though - so that will be a new experience! Used to Alpine and the big arenas, the little jazz bar he is playing at will be a treat! Just hope he brings Fingers along!

Last Sat. was my 4th time at Alpine for Buffet and it never gets old or boring! After the 2007 Alpine concert my husband and I decided to go see him in Honolulu in October. While the backdrop was awesome, and it was cool to be amongst 5000 phans instead of 50,000 in a much more intimate setting, it just didn't compare to Alpine! The pre-game show is half the fun! If you haven't experienced Buffet at Alpine Valley, you haven't experienced Buffet (IMO)! qc77v2

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Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.


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