Last Night: Jimmy Buffett At Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

Jimmy Buffett & the Coral Reefer Band Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion May 5, 2011

See more changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes in our slideshow.

Blowing through the jasmine of our mind, Aftermath once got it in our head somehow that Jimmy Buffett wrote "Margaritaville" not about some low-rent Gulf-shores resort but our own state capital of Austin. We were hoping he might shed some light on the beach-bum anthem's mysterious origins at our first-ever trip inside Parrothead Nation Thursday night at The Woodlands.

He didn't, only introducing "Margaritaville" as a "Cinco de Mayo surprise" (heh), but he clued in a lot of the younger Parrotheads on hand about their own potential origins before "Come Monday." First calling it his "Date Night" song, he immediately Autocorrected to "a little sneakin' to the back of the lawn and makin' out kind of song."

By "makin' out," he meant the kind of makin' out people do when they're nekkid: "This could be part of your heritage."

Aftermath has no idea how many lawn babies were among the sold-out crowd Thursday, nor how many new lawn babies might have been conceived during the Coral Reefer Band's two-hour set. None of our business anyway. But it was obvious that however much he may or may not have influenced the birth rate of the Upper Texas Coast, Buffett has a real soft spot for the region.

He even played a song either written especially for or adapted to the occasion, the mariachi-inflected "Cinco de Mayo In Houston." In those lyrics and elsewhere, he shouted out Liberty Hall, Gilley's, the Ship Channel, Galveston, Ninfa's enchiladas (in Spanish) and Freddy Fender.

Buffett gave a special welcome to the Parrotheads who had made the drive from Beaumont and Corpus Christi, and pictures and/or video of Earl Campbell, Nolan Ryan, the Rockets' 1994 NBA championship and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo flashed on the video screens during "In the City."

And instead of introducing another date-night song, "A Pirate Looks at Forty," as such, he called it a reminder of the "lean days when I was living in Florida and making a living in Texas" with genuine gratitude.

As lighthearted as he was laid-back, the 64-year-old Buffett also brought up his tumble offstage back in January several times. After a typically sunny cover of "Brown Eyed Girl," he said. "I had this little problem in Australia a couple of months ago. What can I say? Shit happens."

Funniest, though, was the rap he inserted into "Off To See the Lizard": "Had an ass like Kim Kardashian but at least I'm still alive."

On our maiden voyage to "Finland," Aftermath was both bemused and bewildered by the throngs of Parrotheads around us, who wore their leis and "fin-breros" with pride and batted around a barrage of beach balls all evening. It's not quite the Masons (we assume), but they definitely have their own costumes, rituals and incantations, like the "Salt! Salt! Salt!" echo during "Margaritaville" and the completely confounding shark-fin mass undulation during "Fins."

Some of them tailgated all day - as screened in a slideshow during "Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes" - and some of them paid a lot of money to act that casual (Aftermath's comp tickets were priced $136 apiece). But every last one displayed a degree of devotion to both Buffett and his Peter Pan philosophy we couldn't help but admire.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray