It all started back in 1983 with a father son Sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands. Out of Road Town, Tortola I spent over a week sailing on a sailboat, and the cassette tape of Jimmy Buffett's Changes in Latitudes album was being played over and over again. That experience and the setting would forever change my idea of relaxation, fun, style of music and lifestyle I longed to be in. " State of mind" so to say....
Over the next 35 years, I , and many others in my life would also frequent those islands and the island lifestyle. Also during those times, I found a love for the sound of steel drums. Jimmy Buffett Concerts were a staple in NC and Florida. Been to more than I can count. Before college, after getting my wisdom teeth out, I had a couple days in bed to do nothing, so I picked up a guitar and a Jimmy Buffett Song book and started to teach myself some cords to Margaritaville. I guess this is where it all started.
My college roommate and I were avid Buffett fans and held regular weekend concerts in our dorm room, singing those tunes. Upon Graduation, I even took a stint captaining charter sailboats for the Moorings in the BVI. After getting employed in the corporate world, and many years in "Real life" with responsibility, I purchased a Caribbean Steel Drum. Taught myself how to play and started performing in 2001. As interest increased with my shows, I also began singing and playing guitar in combination with the shows as to give listeners more variety when attending. Jimmy Buffett Tunes were received the best, as people who love the sound of steel drums also seemed to love Buffett songs.
in 2003, I attended Elle Manette's Steel Drum Workshop in West Virginia. Elle, from Trinidad, invented the 55 gallon Steel Drum. One of the leaders/ special guests at the workshop was Robbie Greenidge, "Jimmy Buffett's Steel Drum player". I got to practice and perform with him during the experience, Andy Narrell's brother, Jeff was also part of that experience.
Throughout my life, I have tried to find a way to meet Buffett. One time after a concert in Greensboro NC, I was working the security guard at the bus parking lot where his crew was. I was trying to find a way to shake Jimmy's hand. Since I knew Robbie Greenidge, I was trying to use that card to get in to where the band was. Those of you that know me, know I am usually good at getting access at concerts. So, as I was getting shut down again after this concert was over by the guard, a Subway deliver driver approaches the gate and says, I have a very large order for a guy named Jimmy to deliver, where do I go. The security guard looks at me, smiled and said, this might be your chance. See if the delivery guy needs some help carrying things in. The driver agreed. So in we went. We were taken to a small interior room of the Colisium. We were told to set up the food here and then you'll have to leave. This was my Big Chance !
We finished setting things up and then I said, "you go ahead, I have to use the bathroom." I went into the men's bathroom and hung out in a stall, waiting for the band to come down and eat. After about 10 minutes, a security guard came in to make sure all was clear before the band showed up, so once again, I was asked to leave and didn't get to meet Jimmy.
I regularly play music at Grabbers, a bar in the Bahamas. For the past 13 years, we invited Jimmy via his Margaritaville office to come to our bar and make an appearance. He does this all over the world on occasion. There are videos on you tube in Anegada and other places. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAszzM3vN6o He has never shown up, but we always try as to keep the Margaritaville Lifestyle alive, he makes those unannounced stops to tropical destinations. Last year, "George" came up to me while performing Come Monday. He stood next to me and sang every word. Afterwards, he said hey...I'm Jimmy Buffett's Gardener at his home in FL. Really.... ??? All I can get is his Gardner ?
The title of this blog post talks about dreams. That is on purpose, because I can recall probably 20 different times in my life where I have met Jimmy, hung out with him on Boats, performed with him, and just been his friend. All that has happened during my sleep and dreaming, literally.......... I can remember talking to my wife, and parents, hey I had a dream last night Jimmy Buffett and I were on a boat taking a trip together....
So fast forward to 2018. I have spent a lifetime in the Tropical " State of Mind". Jimmy Buffett's Latitude Margaritaville community goes from a concept to an actual location right here in Daytona Beach. I played several of the ground breaking special events hoping one day Jimmy might be present.
As Chairman of the Daytona Regional Chamber this year, one of the duties requires me to select the Guest Speaker/ Guest of honor for the Annual Dinner. 12 months ago, I called the CEO of Margarativille and spoke with him about my idea. It was to have Jimmy Buffett as our guest for the evening in a town hall setting with question and answer format. Additionally, have Jimmy come up and play a few tunes as well. Most likely have my steel drum in the background. So he liked the idea. Months went by and it got quieter from the CEO, so I took matters in my own hands and had a relationship with an agent that had booked Buffett at the NAVY show in Annapolis this past year. He said he would meet Buffett during the show. He handed my sealed letter to Mr. Ramos, Buffett's handler so to say. He promised to deliver to Buffett. Afterwards, Silence once again...... I then tracked down Buffett's Manager in California. Spoke on the phone my idea and she said give me the info and I will get it to him for consideration. Silence after that.... So then Caroline Jones, mailboat recording artist opening all of Buffett's shows this year comes to Daytona for Jeep Beach, I get some time with her afterwards at the meet and greet. She agreed she could get the message to Jimmy Himself. Never heard anything after her departure...... Getting to Buffett is like getting to Fort Knox. However, if you follow his instagram feed, he makes nearly daily posts and is always on the go !
So last week, I went to the newly constructed Landshark bar in Daytona Beach for lunch. I met a friend there and we were eating at the bar. As I was finishing up my lunch, Jimmy Buffett came in the front door of the Restaurant, walked towards me across the restaurant, and sat down at the table behind me. You can imagine my excitement. Adrenalin started to hit my nerves as I fumbled with my Camera to try and figure out how I would document this moment. My hands were shaking and an old back injury stated to flare up. Amazing how the adrenalin makes your body react...
So, I gained my composure, snapped a few pictures over my shoulder and then recognized a person with him. There were 6 people including him. His Chief Marketing Officer of Margaritaville Holdings was with him who I have met multiple times while performing. She came over to me and we spoke a moment. I asked if I could approach and at least shake a hand, as I was a life long fan. She said wait till he eats and I'll arrange it as we get up to leave.
So my friend and I sat there and talked about the moment. I prepared my phone for Ralph to take the pictures if I get with Jimmy and snap away. Jimmy started to stand up, So I stood and walked right over to him. Introduced myself, and told him I was a life long fan. He Said, " Well thank you for being one" I asked him how he like the Restaurant. He had not been able to visit the new bar yet. He Said," Well the view is pretty good, that's for sure". We had a little small talk and then he said, " Let's get some pictures" after talking and taking some pics, I asked if he had heard from the Daytona chamber on having him as our guest and he said, " No, I have been on tour for some time." Told him some of my attempts but then just said, hey something will come across your desk and please consider it and he said, " ok, I'll take a look."
So, just like that, it was over and " He left the Building". Really only 2 people greeted him, and he took a quick picture with the staff as leaving. It was a fast visit and mostly people left him alone. It was all I could do to keep my seat. I heard he came into town to see the Latitude Margaritaville community progress and the Landshark Bar. I know my Dad also was doing his best not to drive over as well. I was texting him pictures and we were texting back and forth.
Most people say when they meet the ones they look up to, they are disappointed. I can't say that at all. He was genuine, looked me in the eye, listened what I had to say and engaged. Very nice disposition and it just made me more happy to know Jimmy is a great guy. Singing those songs have more meaning now.
I would say it was number one on my bucket list of things I wanted to do. Especially since this one has an expiration date, as no one lives forever. I took time that evening to reflect on the accomplishment of the day and just smile, that's right, it just makes me smile.
Happenstance is what I call it. It was a friend whom I met that day that I had not seen in 11 years. He asked to meet for lunch on Friday. I told him I couldn't meet then, how about Thursday. Then we said where to eat? hmmmm..... I said well, I haven't been to Landshark in a couple months. The view is nice so lets go there. Sometimes your in the right spot at the right time. This was that time.
After all the time chasing the dream to one day meet Jimmy, all I had to do was just sit down and eat lunch. He came right to me.
I did get the email from Margaritaville stating, Jimmy got your message and although he loves Daytona beach, he would not be able to make our event. Jimmy will be back many times to the area soon.
Dreams do come true...... Fins Up !!!!!