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Buffett creates nirvana

Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, N.Y., August 31, 2010

Reviewed by Kelly Salonica

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Clear skies, mid-70s temps plus an ocean breeze at Jones Beach equal the perfect concert venue. Add in Jimmy Buffett and it's pure nirvana!

Usually Buffett's shows don't feature an opening act but this tour offered a surprise discovery. Ilo Ferreira, a 31-year-old singer/songwriter from Cape Verde, 500 miles from the African west coast. Life changed for Ferreira in 2007 when Buffett stopped in CV to refuel his plane on his way to Timbuktu. Buffett walked into the bar Ferreira played in and was more than impressed with what he heard and saw. The rest is what Margaritaville dreams are made of. Reggae merged with folk in the three songs Ferreira performed at Jones, Can't Call My Name, Let Me Love You and Three Little Birds - a unique mesh of Bob Marley meets John Denver.

Buffett opened with Nobody From Nowhere and set the tone for a mix of lesser-known recordings with popular hits. A nice departure from his largely hit-focused set list, his innate ability of infusing each of his songs with his festive island persona being the common thread. A tune he recorded with Toby Keith, Piece Of Work, was a special treat that featured Louisiana slide guitar virtuoso Sonny Landreth and jazz player John Lovell on trumpet.

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and Coral Reefer Band member Mac McAnally roused the audience with self-penned tune It's Five O'Clock Somewhere (recorded by Alan Jackson and Buffett) and his own 1990's hit Back Where I Come From (later taken to number one by Kenny Chesney with McAnally as the featured artist).

For Volcano - the song and big screen were "bubbling," finally erupting in sync with colorful streamers released in mid-audience. A video tailgate party medley accompanied Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes. Everyone enthusiastically joined in for Brown Eyed Girl and Margaritaville (which included a lost verse).

Moving on to boat themes, Where The Boat Leaves From -scheduled, then dropped from CMT's Crossroads pairing Buffett with the Zac Brown Band - sailed from the Jones Beach dock as Buffett jokingly stated, "I can do whatever [song] I want on MY show." One Particular Harbour prompted Buffett's humorous account of a recent visit to that part of the world, "We just did two shows in Tahiti and they were sold out! It was Bora Bora time...160 people. And I wondered why we don't get there more often?"

Buffett's acoustic solo segment produced a kid's version of R rated tune, Why Don't We Get Drunk (And Screw). "If you brought the kids it's time to plug their little ears," Buffett warned, "and if they ask what the words are it's Why Don't We Get Lunch In School!"

Heading for the boarder and points south began with a salsa-infused Mexico. Reeferette Nadirah Shakoor, featured in Weather With You, lead to her solo performance of Creola, a romance with food, life and spice on the bayou, her R&B vocals adding their own seasoning to the New Orleans romp. Southern Cross closed the set and had confederate and American flags waving side by side....you'd never guess this was New York.

A 15-minute encore followed with a "Thank you for 41 years!" and band intros. "What would Jerry do?" [referring to Jerry Garcia] prompted the Grateful Dead's Scarlet Begonias and the long-awaited Fins with its shark-infested screens had audience "fins" swaying. Final song, When The Coast Is Clear, brought awareness as Buffett adapted the lyrics to fit the oil spill crisis, "It was bound to happen when greed and crude appear". Buffett explained, "In Fairhope, Ala. [Buffett's hometown] on the Gulf Coast, it ain't over yet and I have hope...Surf's up!"