Jimmy and Jake


POSTED: Friday, February 27, 2009

”;It's the price of oil,
the war of the soil,
Where's your bucket for the big bailout?
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan
We've got a lot to drink about.”;

Jimmy Buffett was reciting the chorus of his new song over the phone from his Los Angeles management office last week. Where some level of inebriation is tolerated—heck, encouraged!—by his Parrothead minions around the world, the topical “;We've Got a Lot to Drink About”; recites a litany of more serious woes the country currently faces, albeit with the good humor Buffett always brings to his writing.





        In concert: 7 p.m. Saturday

Place: Waikiki Shell


Tickets: $37.50, $75 and $125


Call: (877) 750-4400 or visit ticketmaster.com


Also: 1 to 6 p.m. pre-concert party at the Waikiki Elks lodge, 2933 Kalakaua Ave., benefiting the Hawaii Food Bank and Dogs for Wounded Warriors. Tickets $10 in advance, available online at www.pauhanaparrotheads.org. Call 754-2390.


Buffett premiered the song a couple of Thursdays ago at a surprise acoustic gig at his Margaritaville Cafe in his home town of Key West, Fla. When he starts his 2009 Summerzcool Tour with two early shows in Maui and Oahu this week, he'll get also his first look at one of his newer restaurants, Jimmy Buffett's at the Beachcomber in Waikiki, complete with a nearby historical surf exhibit.

The easy-going and loquacious 62-year-old was eager to talk about both his new song and Hawaii business venture.

“;The new song was easy to write—I mean, just look around!”; he said with a laugh. “;All you have to do is open the newspaper. And it's a work-in-progress. After Michael Phelps was kicked off the Kellogg's Corn Flakes box, I'm thinking of adding another verse about that in the song. All he did was smoke a little reefer!

“;I've been a nomad with one foot in the Pacific, and now that I've put a place in Hawaii, it's given me a great excuse to play there.”;

With the help of his friend Jim O'Mahoney of the Santa Barbara Surfing Museum, Buffett purchased some of his collection for the restaurant. “;There are some great boards and ukuleles and artifacts from Hawaii,”; he said, “;koa wood guitars from the '80s and ukuleles used by Duke Kahanamoku, Mickey Rooney and Bing Crosby. I bought all of this specifically for the exhibit, because I feel it's important to include some local culture and history in each of my places across the country.”;




On the Net:


Jake Shimabukuro audio samples:


        Bach's Two-Part Invention No. 4 in D minor


As for recordings, Buffett is planning to release a live acoustic album later this year comprising encores recorded during his most recent tour.

“;I know my fan base, Parrotheads who want to add to their collection. Thanks to them I've been surviving this long. The idea was, during every show last year, I looked through my catalog and went through the process of picking songs that would sound kind of unique in an acoustic setting. They were the kind of songs that would fit in an encore, where there is a mellowness about them. The audience has already been through a show with a high energy level, so it would be good to let them down gently.”;

Out of the 28 songs recorded, Buffett feels he's put together an interesting selection of originals and covers, “;particularly ballads, where I use that little bit of opportunity to do songs that I really like.”;

Hawaii's own ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro has been a regular on Buffett's tours since 2005. Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band welcome Shimabukuro with open arms whenever a date in the uke master's busy schedule opens up.

“;The sad thing about today's world is that there seems to be a diminishing amount of authenticity everywhere in music. Jake, on the other hand, is a great, authentic performer and an incredible musician. I'm certainly in awe of that. The first time I watched him in a small club on Oahu, I just thought he was incredible live.

“;There's a funny story about Jake when he first started playing with me and the band. One year, we were the headliner at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival—100,000 people, great show. But little did I know that he had picked to do another gig in town before we would go on, at the House of Blues, going on after the Radiators. Now, the Radiators are legendary in New Orleans—they're like us back home in Key West—and I thought, 'my God, the crowd's going to kill him,' because this is Jake's first solo show.

“;So I went down to his gig, and I brought my security guards, just in case, to get him after he was done. Well, he killed all right—he brought the house down! And here we were so worried for him. Jake just has no fear, no consternation, when he's on stage.”;

Shimabukuro considers Buffett “;a real big brother.”; The ukulele-playing “;little brother”; will be showcased at Buffett's Waikiki restaurant at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, backed by his able band of Noel Okimoto, Dean Taba and Michael Grande.

“;I still get nervous before going on stage with Jimmy,”; he admitted. “;I respect him and the band so much. I want to make sure that I play my part right, and present myself (in a way) that is consistent with his performance. I find him to be a larger-than-life person, so whenever I find myself on stage with him, and after playing something, he looks at me and tells me 'nice solo,' I'm still stunned and still feel like a little kid.”;

Like Buffett, Shimabukuro is coming out with his own live album, which will be available in advance on March 8 at the new Target stores in Salt Lake and Kapolei. (The CD's official release date is April 14.)

Shimabukuro was originally hesitant to release a live album “;because, once I know I'm being recorded in concert, I tend to play on the safer side. But the trick this time around was that engineer Milan Bertosa flew with me on this last tour when I went to New York, San Francisco and around Japan, and just recorded every show. So, after a while, it came to the point that I didn't think about the recording, I was just playing and performing. That's when things started feeling better and more natural, so it's no surprise that the majority of the tracks on the album are from later shows on the tour.”;

The ukulele player has also been visiting public schools when he's back home. “;My 'Music Is Good Medicine' program uses music as a vehicle to inspire kids to figure out what their passions are and to get involved with their communities. What I do is first do a little speech to share my message, then a little performance, and then get kids involved with their music programs to play with me.

“;I love working with kids. I remember Frank De Lima talking to my elementary school class, and I consider him another great friend and mentor because he was so influential in sharing his time and inspiring us to study hard and say no to drugs. I'd love to try to follow him in that direction.”;