WANTAGH, NY—Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefers took on Jones Beach for a glorious night of Mardi Gras rock on the eve of Hurricane Earl’s assault on partytown as parrot heads obliged and rose up to the occasion turning the concrete jungles of Field Four and Five into one massive beach party.
Margaritas were guzzled by the gallon as cover bands held forth, pirates swaggered and ladies and gents’ grass skirts swayed adding a carnival-like vibe that permeated the salty air. Summer camp for adults commandeered by a Southern-gent, writer, singer-songwriter and merchandiser of fun who barefooted the stage in Rasta armbands and a yellow “Jamaica Mistaica” t-shirt with the wide-eyed grin of a pimpled teen trading off Martin acoustic guitars and Fender Strats the entire night.
His backup band, The Coral Reefers, a motley crew of pickers, steel drum bangers, and pedal-steel twangers were the rockin’ foil to Buffett’s stellar showmanship, adding tasty musical chops that tweaked and breathed life into the man’s storied catalogue.
The 30-song set flew from Jimmy and the band on jukebox shuffle mode. Lesser known gems like “Woman Goin’ Crazy on Caroline Street” and “Cuban Crime of Passion” were interwoven through the new stuff and his best known work keeping both casual fans and hardcore followers of the flock at bay.
Keyboardist Michael Utley, guitarist Mac McAnally and Buffett were the holy trinity to the band’s sonic and worldly trips as they combined New Orleans swampy rhythms, bumpy, latinesque beats and Nashville twang into an enticing stew of gumbo rock. Guitarist Sonny Landreth added his Nashville creds to the mix keeping things ever so country as the band jelled into a derivative unit that took on all from Dixie to the Tropics.
Opening with “Nobody From Nowhere,” then “Cuban Crime Of Passion,” to the party anthem “Five O’clock Somewhere,” with a shout out to the Eastern Long Islanders in the house from “Fire Island to Montauk,” the hits slowly surfaced starting with the reggae-fused “Volcano.”
Nautically inspired songs followed, including “Son Of A Son Of A Sailor” and Crosby Stills and Nash’s “Southern Cross” that had the crowd singing along. He introduced the meringue influenced “One Particular Harbor” with a “glad to see the medical marijuana contingent is alive and well out there” as the song’s choppy folk gave way to the sway of syncopated beats from steel drums that pushed and pulled the two genres into one.
A trio of solo acoustified gems took us all back to the beginning “At Max’s Kansas City” and included “Grapefruit Juicy Fruit” and the R-rated ditty “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” with some G-rated verses for the kiddies in tow as well “Why Don’t We Bring Lunch To School.”
A round of Songs You Know by Heart took us to the inevitable set closer “Margaritaville” that Buffett dealt out like a stone-eyed jester. Jumpstarting the encores he belted out “What Would Jerry Do?” as the
band laced into the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlett Begonias.” A reworked version of “When the Coast is Clear” with new lyrics from Buffett on the gulf oil disaster sobered the crowd just in time for the drive home with the line “thank God they put a wine cork in the hole.”