KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Several thousand fans of singer/songwriter/author Jimmy Buffett, known as Parrot Heads, are making an annual pilgrimage to the subtropical island that inspired many of Buffett’s hits. The 19th annual Parrot Heads in Paradise Meeting of the Minds convention, titled “Gypsies in the Palace” after a Buffett tune about rowdy guests, is scheduled Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 4-7, in Key West.
Buffett’s home during some of his most productive years, Key West is credited with inspiring his hit song “Margaritaville” as well as albums such as “A1A,” named for the highway leading to the island city.
His lyrics are rich in references to Key West spots such as Fausto’s Food Palace, the Blue Heaven Restaurant and the Chart Room Bar. His songs memorialize Key West characters like the late Captain Tony Tarracino and Phil Clark, whose real-life exploits unfold in “A Pirate Looks at 40.”
In the mid-1980s Buffett founded the Margaritaville Store in Key West’s Lands End Village. Today located on Duval Street beside the entertainer’s Margaritaville Café, it remains one of the island’s most popular visitor destinations and a magnet for Parrot Heads.
Events during the flock’s 2010 convention are to include concerts by Buffett band members and friends, beachside musical performances, charity auctions and raffles, a sunset concert cruise, the presentation of the 2010 “TropRock” Music Awards, a street festival with live music and an oceanfront “Beach Bash” at the Casa Marina Resort, 1500 Reynolds St.
While Buffett occasionally makes a surprise convention appearance, leading members of his Coral Reefer Band are scheduled to showcase their talents during the Thursday night entertainment highlight. The lineup includes pedal steel guitar player Doyle Grisham, songwriter/performer Mac McAnally, keyboard master Michael Utley and steel drum wizard Robert Greenidge, headlining the band Club Trini; backup singer Tina Gullickson and guitar player Peter Mayer.
Regional and Parrot Head favorites Howard Livingston & the Mile Marker 24 Band, “Sunny Jim” White, Jim Morris & The Big Bamboo Band, the Boat Drunks and John Frinzi are among the other scheduled performers.
Most convention activities are open only to registered members of Parrot Head clubs, but the public is invited to attend the Margaritaville Street Fest. Presented by Margaritaville Key West and the Paradise Charitable Foundation, the rollicking street concert is set for 1-6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, adjacent to Margaritaville at the corner of Duval and Fleming streets.
Street Fest entertainment is to be provided by the Young Rebel Goombas, Johnny Russler and the Beach Bum Band and the Cedar Island Band.
As well as sharing an appreciation for Buffett’s music and the tropical lifestyle it promotes, Parrot Head club members focus on charitable, environmental, educational and humanitarian activities. Since 2002, members of the 200-plus national and international Parrot Head chapters have contributed more than $19.2 million and 2.4 million volunteer hours to local and national charities.
For more information about the convention, visit the Meeting of the Minds section of the Parrot Head clubs’ official website at www.phip.com.
For information about lodging in Key West, call 1-800-LAST-KEY (800-527-8539) or visit the Keys website at www.fla-keys.com.