Buffett hopes to boost Gulf spirits with concert
Singer Jimmy Buffett is just another mad Gulf Coast native when it comes to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but with an exception: He’s got millions of fans and a way to help lift spirits over the seemingly endless crisis.
Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band will play Sunday on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala., which has been sporadically hit by oil for weeks. The show already has been postponed once because of Hurricane Alex, and Buffet is hoping bad weather lurking in the Gulf doesn’t create problems this weekend.
Known for laid-back tunes like “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” Buffett told The Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday that it’s perfectly normal for people to be mad when they see oil washing up on beaches and marshes.
“If you’re born and raised on the Gulf Coast and it’s kind of in you, and you don’t feel anger and rage initially over what’s going on down there, I think you’re a hypocrite,” he said in a telephone interview from New York. “That’s the way I felt. Now, what you do with that is a big question.”
Buffett said a beachfront concert seemed like the right thing to do after talking to people on the coast.
“People were going, ‘What are you going to do about things?’ I mean, hell, I can’t stick my finger in that hole. Everybody wishes they could,” said Buffett.
“But there’s a huge amount of frustration and probably it will boil over in summertime anger, and I know what I’ve done for years is entertain. What I’m best at is two hours of escapism for people that have to go back and either live jobs that they don’t like or whatever,” he said. “It’s that Mardi Gras mentality.”
Born in Mississippi and raised in Alabama, Buffett has lived all over the Gulf Coast. He said memories of the region are laced through his music.
“I have pretty much surrounded myself with Gulf Coast influences for a long time, and … if you listen to those songs, I think it’s pretty much in there,” said Buffett, 63.
Buffett, a supporter of President Barack Obama, said the roots of the spill lie with the administration of former President George Bush, which was often criticized for being too cozy with the petroleum industry.
“To me it was more about eight years of bad policy before (Obama) got there that let this happen. It was Dracula running the blood bank in terms of oil and leases,” he said. “I think that has more to do with it than how the president reacted to it.”
The beach concert on Sunday will also feature Jesse Winchester and Allen Toussaint, who also were in the original lineup. Country singers Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown had to drop out because of prior commitments. Buffett said he is still making phone calls trying to add additional acts for Sunday, but he’s not sure of the final roster.