Well, I’m home, although still not quite ready to reenter the real world. Mike and Mike in the Morning are helping me ease back into my regular routine, although I keep looking out the window, expecting to see the tropical backyard of the house in Key West. Where’s the hot tub? Where are Patti and Gary, sipping coffee by the pool? Where are my guys, slowly waking up after a night of playing music?
I feel like Alice in Wonderland emerging from the rabbit hole.
This was my fourth MOTM (the annual convention for Jimmy Buffett fans, who are called Parrotheads; 3500 crazy over-40 folks converge on Key West for a week of music, partying, and general insanity), but the best by far. I usually go down there alone and spend my days hiking around the island, listening to live music. This year Jimmy Parrish and the Ocean Waves Band adopted me, and made the week so much more fun. They let me hang out at their rental house with them, soak in their hot tub, sip coffee by their pool, drink their rum, and eat their Dion’s fried chicken and Patti’s cookies and breakfast casseroles. In return, I worked my butt off selling their T-shirts and CDs, running errands, and generally trying to make their time down there go more smoothly.
There are so many stories, I can’t tell them all. I spent my mornings at the house, but by noon things got crazy. It was Lighthouse Court to hear Kelly McGuire and his friends play; Schooner Wharf to hear Michael McCloud, an island tradition; Captain Tony’s for cocktails and the Margarejects. There was the street fest where, after many years of rumors, Jimmy Buffett actually DID appear. I, however, opted to miss the insanity and hung out at the house watching the videos on YouTube (never have been much for crowds; just hearing the rumors beforehand was enough fun). Saturday and Sunday I helped The Conch Fritters sell their merchandise and listened to Barry and Dusty play amazing steel drum and guitar music at their CD debut party, which was a blast. (I co-wrote The Reggae Song, if you’re interested in adding to your collection of my songs!) Richard and I strolled Duval, Dusty fed me pizza and Diet Coke, Jimmy played chauffeur and bought me cocktails and let me hang out with him between gigs.
And then there was the music, and the musicians. I met so many new folks, and was surprised when they’d heard of me and my work. I ran into old friends and had a few minutes to catch up on their lives and careers. There’s never enough time to do everything I want to do, and this was no exception. But there’s always next year. And I have to admit, the older I get, the better I am at finding balance. I might have missed a few gigs, but the time spent with the guys was a great tradeoff.
Evenings were spent at Willie T’s, selling merchandise for the band while they played for their fans, old and new. After years of office management and event coordination, this was a piece of cake. I coerced folks into buying three CDs when they only wanted one – and a t-shirt for their best guy or gal, too. And the guys rocked! A number of friends stopped by to visit, too, which was fun (thanks Randy, Michelle and Brad, and Traci!). I kept pinching myself, unable to believe that I was spending four hours a night listening to wonderful music and talented musicians, dancing and singing along with my favorite songs. It was great being part of their team, and I’m just hoping I was useful enough that they’ll let me make it a regular gig!
Then we’d dash back to the house for snacks and cocktails. Friends stopped by some nights; one night Eric and Jimmy and I indulged in Hog’s Punch at the Hog’s Breath and rocked to Hugo Duarte until the wee hours. Then I staggered back to my hotel and crashed for a few hours, before getting up and doing it all over again.
But all good things must end. Barry let me hitch a ride north in the Trop Rocket yesterday with him and the guys, prolonging the fun for a few more hours. Now I have more great memories to store in the memory banks: cocktails at the Lorelei, the traditional start of the week for the band. Chipped beef on toast at Robbie’s, where we watched the tarpon feeding – I even saw a stingray! Chatting with Mark Mulligan about life and love and music. Hanging out with Parrot Pete, the ultimate party animal. Getting to know Patti and Gary. But most of all, the music. And time spent with good friends.
I can’t thank Jimmy and the boys enough for making my KW time so much fun. Being alone all the time gets tedious; thanks for giving me the chance to be a part of something special. You guys ROCK! Also Gary and Patti, the most generous people on the planet. I’m excited about new friendships, new chances to write lyrics, and more music in the future. Hopefully I’ll get back down to Key West before next November – it’d be nice to hang out when the streets aren’t filled with crazy middle-aged folks with shark fins on their heads…
Now it’s back to the real world, to bills and work and getting on with life. Making plans for the future. I’m considering publishing at least one of my books as an ebook, so am studying that process. Which means a new website and marketing plan. But today, I’m adding new music to iTunes, doing laundry, catching up on email, and trying to pick up my life where I left off a week ago. But don’t be surprised if I occasionally close my eyes and imagine I’m walking Duval, drinking beer at Capt. Tony’s, tapping my foot at Lighthouse Court, or dancing at Willie T’s to Island Mojo. Oh yes, or soaking in the hot tub with handsome men…
I love being a part of this world.
If you want to be a part of this world too, stop by any of the websites I’ve linked to and buy their CDs. Or check out the Hog’s Breath webcam this week from 5:30-9:30pm Eastern time, where Jimmy is playing a solo gig. You too can be living on Island Time!
Thanks for stopping. Stay tuned for more adventures! I might even post some of my writing (gasp!)…
(thanks to Barry O for the additional pix!)