Jimmy Buffett said a fan pretty much summed things up about all the excitement taking place Sunday evening (July 11) on the sands of Orange Beach in Gulf Shores, Ala.
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"I saw a sign out there that said, 'What would Jimmy Buffett do? Throw a party at the oil slick!'" Buffett said. "You're right!"
And that's exactly what he did by hosting a free concert to demonstrate support for the people, businesses and culture of the Gulf Coast. The Parrotheads flocking to the concert got the party of a lifetime while viewers throughout the U.S. were able to share the moment with Jimmy Buffett & Friends: Live From the Gulf Coast, a concert special on CMT and CMT.com.
"Thank you all for coming from wherever you came to help support our good friends, neighbors -- and some of my family down here, as well," Buffett told the crowd after opening the show with "The Pascagoula Run," a track from his 1989 album, Off to See the Lizard.
As an entertainer, Buffett consistently proves he has few peers when it comes to connecting with an audience, even the tens of thousands who showed up on Orange Beach. The 90-minute telecast was packed with the songs that made him famous, including "One Particular Harbour," "Come Monday," "Son of a Son of a Sailor," "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes," "Cheeseburger in Paradise," "A Pirate Looks at Forty" and, of course, "Margaritaville."
Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown were scheduled to appear when the concert was originally planned for July 1. Other commitments prevented them from participating once the show was rescheduled for Sunday following concerns about surf conditions created by Hurricane Alex.
While Sunday's special guests were not as well known to a mainstream country audience, Buffett was clearly honored to introduce singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester and New Orleans music legend Allen Toussaint. Buffett was comfortable in a sideman's role as Winchester performed "Rhumba Man" and "Mississippi, You're on My Mind." Toussaint delivered "Yes We Can," a song he wrote and produced for R&B great Lee Dorsey during the '70s.
Singer-songwriter Mac McAnally, Buffett's longtime collaborator and band member, assumed Alan Jackson's role on "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" and took the lead again on "Back Where I Come From," his original song that was later covered by Chesney.
Although everyone on the beach understood that the concert was in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Buffett did not dwell on the problem. He did, however, revamp part of the lyrics to "Margaritaville" to proclaim, "It's all BP's fault!"
He also revised the lyrics to "When the Coast Is Clear," a song from 1986's Floridays album, to close the televised portion of the concert. The song, one of the first Buffett wrote with McAnally, took on a poignant new meaning with a message of encouragement to those who love the Gulf Coast area.
Born in Pascagoula, Miss., and raised in Mobile, Ala., the concert was something of a homecoming for Buffett. At the end of the telecast, he took a short break and returned with his band to continue the concert with songs such as Winchester's "Biloxi" before closing the evening with Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl."
Watch a video of the performance of "When the Coast Is Clear" from Jimmy Buffett & Friends: Live From the Gulf Coast.