By Ken Jenkins
Back to the pictures.
We had been to the Atlanta Braves game, so we were running a little late. We arrived at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta about 9:15 or so. We figured Mac wouldn't come on till then anyway. The setup was a little different than I had expected. The Variety Playhouse is actually an old movie theater converted into a concert facility. I had expected an open floor bar type of place, but there was seating much as you might expect in an old movie theater. Unfortunately (which turned out to be quite fortunate) there weren't really any good seats left on the lower level, so I suggested rather than sit all the way in the back on the lower level, we sit in the small upper level balcony at the back of the theatre. The seats weren't great, but at least they were high up so we didn't have to look over any heads.
So we took our seats on the balcony and shortly thereafter Mac took the stage. Mac McAnally is actually a very entertaining performer. He seemed to have a witty story to accompany every song he sang. I didn't really know any of the songs, but I think I'll have to buy the album. He's a really good singer and songwriter.
A couple songs into the show, another one of our party looked back at me and said "Hey that guy over there looks like Jimmy". I looked over and agreed that yeah, there was a resemblance. We debated for a second whether it was him, but agreed it wasn't. Remember that the theater was completely dark other than a couple low lights on Mac, so it wasn't easy to see at all. Well after a while another of us noticed that there was a guy standing behind the guy we thought was Jimmy -- kind of like a body guard. Needless to say, a few short observations later and I realized I was sitting about 5 seats away from Jimmy Buffett!! My heart began to race. What should I do? Hell what could I do? I just stayed in my seat and tried to contain myself. Jimmy was sitting in the middle section of the balcony, which was raised about a foot or two above my section. There was no one in any of the seats between me and Jimmy, so I had a pretty much clear view. Now I didn't stare, but I tried to get in a peak whenever I could. He had his bare feet propped up on the balcony and was drinking a Red Stripe beer.
I must admit, it was pretty hard to concentrate on Mac's show knowing I was sitting right beside Jimmy, but that wasn't a problem for very long. About half an hour or so after I noticed he was there, he left. I saw him walk down the aisle and knew then that we were in for a hell of a treat! So I made my way down to the front. There was an empty area in front of Jimmy's side of the stage that a bunch of us sat in after Jimmy went on stage. I was no more than about 10 feet from Jimmy during the concert! I took some pictures, but they didn't want us using a flash during the show, so some of them didn't turn out so great. But the ones I could use a flash for aren't too bad.
Jimmy really seemed to be enjoying himself. If you listened on Radio Margaritaville you probably heard him say how much he was enjoying the quiet crowd. He told us that we could all go "batshit crazy tomorrow night" (referring to his concert at Lakewood Amphitheater), but for now he was really enjoying this. He said he needed to do that more often. I would agree.
Jimmy and Mac were also joined by Fingers Taylor, Peter Mayer, Jim Mayer, and Tina Gullickson sang on one song. They played the following songs: "In The City", "It's My Job", "Twelve Volt Man", "When The Coast Is Clear", "I Will Play For Gumbo", and my personal favorite, "Semi-True Stories".
Unfortunately it ended way too quickly, but I was in total bliss for that half an hour or so that Jimmy was there. It was so awesome to see him in an intimate setting like that.
A small group of fans hung out outside the Variety Playhouse to see Jimmy when he left. The bouncer said he would sign some autographs as long as we didn't crowd around him, so of course we didn't. Jimmy came out looking very relaxed, commenting on the things he was signing, etc. I didn't bother getting anything autographed. I just shook Jimmy's hand and got a picture with him. Unfortunately he had turned his head to sign something by the time the picture was snapped, but oh well. We're still in it together.
Turns out that this concert was my 50th Jimmy Buffett concert, and perhaps the best! What a sweet 50th it was! Can't wait to catch Jimmy in another setting like that.