Buffett returns to his roots

Published 6:15 pm Friday, July 28, 2006

The prodigal son returneth. Well, at least for a day.

Mississippi’s own Jimmy Buffett, world renowned singer/songwriter/author/performer, return homes to the Gulf Coast on Friday where he will be involved in the filming of a documentary in Bay St. Louis, ground zero for Hurricane Katrina’s wrath almost 11 months ago.

Ironically though, Buffett, a Pascagoula native, will be working on a project about the legendary Flora-Bama Longe that was virtually destroyed during Hurricane Ivan’s destruction of the Alabama coastline in 2004.

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Buffett, a crew of musicians and a film crew will recreate the legendary Flora-Bama lounge, which stood just east of Orange Beach, Ala., on the Alabama-Florida state line for years before Ivan forced it to move from its original location and closed down most of it. The project will transform the old Fire Dog Saloon on Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis, into the Flora-Bama for the day.

The event is not open to the public. Buffett is, however, expected to get his second up close and personal look at Katrina’s aftermath, which left his beloved Mississippi Coast in shambles.

Buffett performed to a crowd of some 80,000 at the recent New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in May, in an effort to help revive the New Orleans economy and restore a sesne or normalcy at the first Jazz Fest since Katrina.

He is currently on break from his “Party at the End of the World” tour, which resumes Tuesday in New Jersey.

Buffett was born on Christmas Day, 1946, in Pascagoula, but moved with his parents as a child to Mobile, Ala.

After an a brief fling in the halls of academia, including stops at Pearl River Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi in the mid-1960s, the entertainment bug caught Buffett and he soon ended up in the Crescent City learning his musical trade.

After a brief move to Nashville helped him figure out that he wasn’t country enough for that town in the early ’70s, he migrated to Key West where his music and reputation began to grow. It became his “Margaritaville”.

Even after three decades as one of the biggest touring acts in the world, as well as becoming one of the few authors ever to have a number one book on the New York Times Bestseller List in both fiction and non-fiction, Buffett never forgot his roots, and continued to visit his parents along the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay as well as his family in Pascagoula.

He was always a big fan of the Flora-Bama, well known for its annual Mullett Toss, as well as the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival, each year. In his younger days, Buffett would make surprise vists to the lounge to perform, hence his involvement in the current project.