By Matt Wiley

I know where I’ll be “when the volcano blows.” I will be blowing out my flip-flop while I eat a cheeseburger in paradise and twirl my pencil-thin mustache at the Jimmy Buffett concert on Friday, March 30, at the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre.

Despite the fact that I’m only 24 years old, my pilgrimage to a Buffett concert has been a long time coming. I couldn’t even begin to calculate how many Wednesday evenings of my childhood were spent at the local Parrothead club meeting in Cape Coral, FL, with my parents, who had been members of the club since before I was born.

Sitting and listening to the same two-piece acoustic Buffett cover band called Troubadour play the same hits over and over again while my parents inhaled Coronas and chips & salsa, discussing who-knows-what with their fellow Parrotheads became a usual activity once a month for my younger brother and me. We behaved ourselves (for the most part) and enjoyed a free meal with as many soda refills as our stomachs could handle.

But naturally, we were bored out of our minds.

Nevertheless, apparently some seeds were planted. And, years later, I found myself holding a vinyl version of Jimmy Buffett’s “Volcano” at a local record store, reliving those fond memories. Yes, I bought the CD.

What is it that makes Buffett so appealing to so many? The “pirate” is wayyyy over 40 now and has more fans than a mathematician could possibly count. Corona and other spirits companies couldn’t be more thankful.

Is it the idea of sitting on a beach with toes in the sand that his music gives people? Or, is Buffett’s music really that good? Maybe it’s the simplicity of his lyrics and how easy it is for people of all makes and models to relate to them, or perhaps it’s the hypnotic use of the steel drum. Whatever it is, the man has got it figured out and he still gets people going.

I always used to hear my parents’ fellow Parrothead friends talking about things like the “Meeting of the Minds” — which I’ve come to find out over the years is a massive ‘phlocking’ of Buffett fans to a concert in Key West — and their stories of margarita-filled bus trips to see the man himself play here in Tampa. Not much to my surprise, I don’t remember hearing many stories about the bus rides back home. Hmmm.

So, now I will finally understand. It will finally make sense.

I’ve heard stories of epic tailgating beginning as early as parking attendants will admit vehicles to park at the Florida State Fairgrounds off U.S. 301. Stories so hard to believe, you must just have had to be there to fully grasp the images described.

For example, a good friend of mine named Dominic was in attendance at last year’s Buffett concert. He called to tell me about a tailgating rig that had rendered him awestruck. As his voice crackled through the receiver, he described to me a normal pick-up truck with a trailer attached, donning some Buffett flair.

“Seems normal enough to me,” I said.

“But get this,” he says. “There’s a giant hot tub on the trailer, full of people.”

Now, that’s tailgating in style. Bucs fans really should take note. The water wasn’t warm, and was probably contaminated with high levels of tequila and sour mix, but that kind of originality surely deserves some sort of praise.

So, who knows what will greet my eyes when I park at the Fairgrounds next Friday afternoon? All I know is what I’ve heard, and, needless to say, I have high hopes for a great show, as well as some great…scenery.

If any New Tampa Parrotheads plan on joining the “phlock” at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 30, at the 1-800-ASK-GARY Ampitheatre, tickets were still available online at our press time at

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