Where has the summer gone? Many of you may be asking yourself this as school starts, leaves change and the reality of another Jimmy Buffett summer tour is in the books. I sit here typing, knowing I intended on writing during the tour. I forgot how fast this tour moves and how much effort goes into travel and production. A lot of work went into Workin’ N’ Playin’ and two weeks after the last summer show I see the blogs I planned on writing have been nonexistent. It’s not that I didn’t want to write. It was finding the time and energy to put it down on virtual paper.
There are a lot of moving parts that make this machine work as well as it does and time between shows is sometimes when we get most of the work done. I’m not saying show days are on autopilot but when the trucks arrive we all know when and where to be. The venue may be different but the show must be set up just as it was the last one. There is only one mode on show day and that is show mode. Everyone is giving their all to make it the best show possible and nobody is even thinking about the next city.
Show day consists of most of the crew leaving the hotel at 7:00am and arriving at the venue at 7:30am for breakfast. Trucks get unloaded at 8:00am and then the race begins to build the stage, production office and dressing rooms. Margaritaville TV goes over vault footage that will work for the live preshow and then we go over notes about what footage we’ll shoot that day specific to the venue or tailgate. Sometimes that includes band and crew interviews or even an interview with JB. Tailgates depend on what time the lots open. Everything we shoot has to be cut, formatted and ready for Stan (video producer for the tour) by 6pm. This doesn’t give us the amount of time we want to spend in the parking lots if they open up later than noon.
Backline arrives at 9:00am (the techs and wardrobe) so they can have breakfast and hopefully start setting up their gear now that most of the rigging, lights and stage are set. Before you know it lunch is ready and we break individually for a quick lunch because techs like to start sound checking by 1:30pm. If everything works the stage and band gear is ready for a 3:30pm sound check with JB and the CRB. Starting when the backline arrives until 5pm we’re working on production needs like parking, guest lists, passes, security meetings, bus stock, setting up the License 2 Chill Lounge and the most important part – stage drinks!
Dinner starts at 4:30pm and runs until 8pm. This way all band, crew and local crew get a chance for some food before the show while the last details are worked out with their set up. The L2C Lounge opens at 6:30pm in most places and closes at 8pm so everyone can get to their seats before JB takes the stage. While the show is in progress and JB is running the ship there is a lot going on backstage. Cases are packed up and put away so we can make the load out in good time. It’s funny to hear certain songs in a set list knowing where you and your gear should be as it relates to packing up and rolling it out for the trucks. People ask me if I get to see the show. I get to see a few songs but most of the time everyone is moving getting their work done so JB doesn’t have to worry about anything but the show itself.
When the show is done JB and the CRB leaves the venue and work begins to strike the stage for load out. We can get out of most places by 1:00am. Often times we shower up after a show, get on the bus, eat some after show food, have a drink and go to our bunk. We don’t go riding off into the sunset but we start our way to the next city. The best bus rides are 8-9 hours because you can get some sleep depending on the roads (I’m talking to you northeast!). This excludes Bus 3 where they have named the back lounge Night Shift. I don’t know what goes on there but I will say that bus has the most beer on their rider than any other. The tricky bus rides are the 2.5 to 4 hour treks. You arrive at the hotel around 3am, you have to get off the bus (hopefully remembering a bottle of water and cell phone), get your luggage and pick up your key card waiting for you. Picture 40 crew members sleep walking with luggage trying to find an elevator and cramming as many of us in one just to get to our room before we wake up and can’t go back to sleep. Believe it or not that’s a problem. You get to your new hotel room and can’t go back to sleep or your key card doesn’t work and you have to go back to the front desk to get another. If you can go to sleep you hope to get up at a sensible hour (exclude all Night Shift members) so you can find a place for breakfast. It’s best to put the Do Not Disturb hanger on your door so housekeeping doesn’t wake you up any earlier than you have to. You leave the hotel, find coffee and food and when you get back to the hotel you try getting into your hotel room number from two days ago because you can’t remember what room number you are now. Production is on the phone a lot on a day off and sending emails regarding the next show. Trying to put everything in place so when the trucks arrive in the morning or night, the venue and breakfast will be ready for us.
After the last show band and crew go to a hotel and fly out the next morning. Some go home, some go to their next tour and those of us lucky enough to work for JB and Margaritaville get to go home to try and catch up on laundry, bills, expense reports, advancing the next shows and maybe some rest. I remember JB telling me to prepare for the shift in speed from tour to home. “Heikki, the tour runs on rocket fuel. When I get home I have to be ready to get up early and make my kids pancakes.” I laugh thinking about it because he was right. The crew and band can have as much adrenaline as JB does on stage and at the speed this tour moves and operates with efficiency you can feel yourself hit a wall if you don’t keep moving.
We’ve kept moving on the breaks preparing for the grand opening of our Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort. We’re getting things ready for the Paris shows on 9/26 and 9/27. We’re editing all the video we shot to post on social and Margaritaville TV so you can get a glimpse of not only the concerts, but the people that make them possible. Today’s blog is my way of saying sorry for not writing (don’t know how many of you missed it or even have read the ones that have been posted, but if you have thank you). This last leg with Huey Lewis and the News was a lot of fun and I’ll be writing about that next. Hope you all had a great summer. Keep Workin’ N’ Playin’ y’all. Fins Up!