"There will always be those who feel more comfortable not venturing from the warmth of the hearth, but there are those who prefer to look out the window and wonder what is beyond the horizon."
- Jimmy Buffett
"A Salty Piece of Earth."
Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band play at 7 p.m. Friday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s A&B Amphitheater. Tickets are $59 general admission and $89 and $136 for reserved seating (plus applicable fees). Tickets are available from the MACC box office, 242-7469, www.mauiarts.org.
Fans of Jimmy Buffett can now indulge in one of their favorite pastimes, any time they desire, immersed in the tropical paradise of Margaritaville Online. Launched in January, the new social adventure game encapsulates the escapist state of mind espoused by the beloved troubadour in some of his classic songs.
Praised by Gamezebo as "easily one of the biggest and most enjoyable games on Facebook," Margaritaville Online allows Parrotheads to construct their own virtual island resort, munch a cheeseburger, sip a Land Shark beer, play minigames like Limbo, build a boat and fish, form a band, and hang out at Captain Tony's Boats and Planes outpost or Joe Merchant's Trading Post, all the while listening to their favorite Jimmy tunes.
"With Margaritaville Online, fans across the globe can party together any time and any place," says Buffett.
It took Jimmy Buffett about 15 minutes to come up with the lyrics to his legendary song "Margaritaville" back in 1977.
A hit on his breakthrough album "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes," it initially allowed him to buy his first boat, and eventually create a massive business empire founded on its laid-back imagery.
Since the emergence of rock 'n' roll icons like Elvis Presley, popular musicians have parlayed their fame into lucrative marketing ventures, but probably none as successfully as Buffett, who has championed a remarkably successful career around singing tropically inflected songs about relishing the good life and having fun.
The popular entertainer overseas a multimillion-dollar business that encompasses restaurants, retail stores, consumer products, a 24-hour Radio Margaritaville satellite station (featuring Jimmy's music plus artists as varied as Bob Marley, Little Feat, the Eagles and Hawaii's Jake Shimabukuro), a Margaritaville Hotel and lately, casinos.
Last fall, the Margaritaville Casino opened in Las Vegas at the Flamingo, featuring a 5 O'Clock Somewhere bar, 220 slot machines and 22 gaming tables. Two other Margaritaville casinos are being built in Biloxi, Miss., and Bossier City, La.
"It was a natural process," says Buffett about the evolution of his commercial interests. "One thing I learned along the trail is if you don't take an interest in the business of music then somebody else is going to do it for you, and most of the time they will do it badly. Like it or not, it is a business. The most important thing as it comes along is you remain in touch with what's going on out there, and have enough wisdom to hire great people to run the business."
Translating his music and beach-loving lifestyle into a successful brand, Buffett's Parrothead fans can stock up on products ranging from Margaretville Coffee and Land Shark golf bags, to Lost Shakers of Salt, Fins Up car magnets and "Wastin Your Vote Away Again" Buffett for President in 2012 caps.
A distinguished author, his assorted novels, children's stories, and "A Pirate Looks at Fifty" travelogue have landed him at the top of both The New York Times' fiction and nonfiction best-seller lists, a feat only attained by a few literary legends like Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and William Styron.
On the music front, Buffett has successfully marketed "destination" CDs to fans in recent years. These live soundboard recordings from assorted concert venues, include the double CD/DVD "Live in Hawaii" taped at the MACC and the Waikiki Shell in 2004.
"Our fan base is really into destination shows," he explains. "Maui and the Shell is one of our best-selling CDs. I never really focused on trying to have hit records. I knew my strongest asset was being a live performer, so I concentrated more on that and giving the best bang for the buck, and hopefully people from that would be turned on to the records."
Buffet's most recent release, the double acoustic CD "Encores," features songs performed at the end of concerts in 2008 and 2009. Closing with "A Pirate Looks at Forty," accompanied by Jake Shimabukuro on ukulele, Buffett performs some of his most memorable songs and a couple of covers by Tom Petty and Bob Dylan.
"I fell into doing acoustic songs at the end of every show, mostly my stuff," he continues. "It's great with my fans that I don't have to really play the game. All I'm out there to do is to add to people's collection, things I hope they will like. We don't have to compete with radio airplay and record company marketing schemes. We just hope to supply our fans with entertainment."
And that they do, as Buffet and his Coral Reefer Band are guaranteed to generate a festive atmosphere in concert.
"His show was two hours of fun," praised the Florida Times Union in February. "His music provides the inspiration to chuck the necktie, toss back beer with reckless abandon and forget the worries of the day."
"In a two hours-plus show at a packed Amway Center, Buffett effortlessly delivered the laid-back vibe that he has managed to turn into a worldwide brand," noted an Orlando Sentinel review.
Bringing his latest "Welcome to Fin Land Tour" to the MACC on Friday, Buffett concludes: "It's been a long and wonderful road. I'm grateful that I'm still doing it and that people are still coming to the shows. I'm not the first person to create a career out of escapism. I think it's a necessity, people need it. There's no better thrill than to get on stage and feel the energy of a big crowd."
The exotic sounds of King Paris and The Hypnotics, plus guest percussionist Chandu the Genie Giant, will entrance Stella Blues on Saturday evening. And as a bonus, acclaimed guitarist Rick Vito will open the show.
King Paris? Chandu the Genie Giant?
This "West-meets-East" night, which will include belly dancers, a unique musical amalgamation of roots rock, world beat, exotica and Bollywood Bhangra, plus smoke and motion lights, has been conjured by the former Fleetwood Mac guitarist and current lead vocalist/guitarist with the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band.
Exploring an interest in Indian guitar music Vito was inspired to concoct the character of King Paris.
"I found out about these Indian slide guitarists, Mohan Bhatt, who made a record with Ry Cooder; and Debashish Bhattcharya, and these records just pulsated through me," Rick reports. "It opened up a whole new world. I dressed up for the first time on Maui, actually, at a private party. People went wild, they loved it. It's one of the funnest things I've ever done."
Before the birth of King Paris, Vito spent years playing with many leading artists including Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Bob Seger, Stevie Nicks, John Mayall, John Fogerty, Roy Orbison and Little Richard.
In late 1987 he replaced Lindsey Buckingham in Fleetwood Mac, and spent five years touring and recording with the legendary band, playing on two albums including "Behind The Mask," which featured several of his own songs.
Most recently he played on a new album project by Boz Scaggs and contributed a song to Maria Muldaur's latest CD.
For the Maui gig King Paris will be backed by bassist Leonardo, keyboardist Marco, drummer Paolo, percussionist Carlo, and of course, special guest on exotic drums, the great Chandu, who happens to bear a marked resemblance to Mick Fleetwood.
"This is the first time with Chandu," says Rick. "He's looking forward to the spirit of it."
Never thought we'd ever see British music icon Morrissey perform on Maui. Moz, as he's known to fans, plays the MACC on May 18. For those a little puzzled - as in who? - here's a New York Times summation: "Morrissey isn't just any singer, he has become one of the defining rock stars of the past few decades by virtue of his grand voice, his grander songs, and his charming habit of playing with melodrama."
Morrissey's shows tend to sell out, quickly. His Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium show in November sold out in 20 minutes, and his appearance in December at Puebla in Mexico was the fastest selling pop concert in the city's history.
On Sunday, Jimmy Borges and Willie K will join the Maui Pops Orchestra for a fun "Swing Into Spring" concert in Castle Theater at the MACC. The orchestra's annual spring concert will include the Moonglow All-Star Swing Band under the direction of Lisa Owen. Howard Dicus will emcee and Lily Meola will make a cameo.
* Complete with a dance floor, the event will feature swing music favorites from the past. The concert starts at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, $25, $35, $45 and half-price for kids 12 years and younger, plus applicable fees, available from the MACC as above.