What happens when Jimmy Buffett books himself a gig and forgets to mention it to the band? Call in the official and original Jimmy Buffett tribute band, A1A!
Jeff Pike is the lead singer and proprietor of the band, A1A, a Jimmy Buffett tribute show. Back in the 90’s Jeff formed a relationship with Buffett’s team when he requested permission to create the first Jimmy Buffett tribute show. With a nod of approval, Jeff started a small duo group which has now grown into a 7 piece band focusing on large corporate events and festivals.
A month before the event, Jeff Pike answers a call from Mac McAnally and it seems Buffett’s got a little problem. Jimmy graciously agreed to perform at an event for one of his favorite organizations, The World Surf League, … but he forgot to tell the Coral Reefers.
All the Coral Reefers, except Mac McAnally had alternative plans and Buffett found himself without a band. Problem solved: Just book Jeff Pike and A1A to step into the legendary shoes of the Coral Reefer band.
This wasn’t the first time Buffett’s team turned to Jeff. A few years ago, the producers of the movie “What to Expect when You’re Expecting” wanted Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefers to play the part of a tropical band for a backyard party. Not exactly what Buffett does, but his team recommended A1A and subsequently, Jeff and the A1A band were were hired for the movie (it’s a cool story, read about it here)!
In anticipation of this event, Jeff and his band added in a few extra practices but they couldn’t get a firm set list for the show until just 2 weeks before the gig. Thankfully, no surprises.
Arriving at the event, Jeff and his band immediately began setting up their equipment. Jeff remembers “Everyone was in a good mood and ready to put on a show. Mac showed up around 5pm for sound check and to go through the arrangements of the tunes and brief us as to what to expect from Jimmy.” Jeff continues “After we had worked out the tunes with Mac the only advice he had to give us about Jimmy was to just be on our toes and be ready for anything.”
Jeff Pike and his A1A band took the stage and started off the event with an hour-long set. When it was time for Jimmy Buffett and Mac McAnally to take the stage for a short set of just the two of them, the band stepped off to the side. As the event organizers were introducing Buffett and McAnally, Jimmy made his way over to the band and shook each of their hands, introducing himself. Jeff was the last in the line and before he could tell Buffett his name, Jimmy said “I know who you are. I have heard you sing. You sound great. It has a familiar twang to it.” They shook hands, both laughed and Jimmy and Mac took the stage.
The duo played several songs, which was a complete surprise to the attendees who had no idea Jimmy Buffett and Mac McAnally would be performing. In between songs, Jimmy motioned Jeff over to talk. Jimmy tells Jeff he wants the band to come up onstage early and have the band ease into the middle of “Changes In Lattitudes.”
Jeff recalls “When the time came to slip on in, everything felt natural and smooth. It was a great feeling. A great feeling to have my entire band performing with Jimmy Buffett and Mac McAnally. A great feeling having all this happen on the year when we are celebrating our 25th birthday. A great feeling knowing earlier in the year Scott Nickerson, original member of the A1A group, was asked to join Jimmy at MOTM to perform “Margaritaville,” and an overwhelming feeling that only I can feel given my 37 year history of loving and performing Jimmy’s music.”
Like a lot of long time listeners and fans of Jimmy’s music Jeff prefers the more obscure album cuts and ballads. “But I have to say that performing and singing all of Jimmy’s classic songs with him was an extraordinarily cool feeling.”
Here’s a fun video of Jeff Pike, A1A, Mac McAnally and Jimmy Buffett on “Cheeseburger in Paradise”
The two songs that hit home the most for Jeff were “Come Monday” and “A Pirate Looks at 40.” Jeff can still vividly remember listening to “Come Monday” on the radio when it came out during the summer of 1974. He says “It got stuck in my heart then and there it has remained. It was a very special stage moment for me that I will always remember and cherish.”
After the show Jimmy and Jeff had a little one-on-one time in the clubhouse together. Jeff will always appreciate the private conversation, saying “We talked awhile about Parrot Heads, the new documentary coming out in November, the band and Jimmy’s genuine heart felt appreciation for all that his fans have given him over the decades.”
Maybe it’s a once in a life time experience. But, who really knows? Jimmy may call on Jeff Pike and the A1A band the next time the Coral Reefers are unavailable. But if this turns out to be the one and only time, Jeff is content with this most amazing experience. He says “I have an extremely accomplished band. A band that I am very proud of. It gives me great pride to know that there is absolutely nothing that they cannot perform magnanimously. Watching my band impress Jimmy and Mac gave me a great feeling of pride and accomplishment. Another feeling of full circle at this time of my life.”
A dream come true for any Trop Rock singer, but especially for Jeff and the A1A band who’ve performed Jimmy Buffett’s music for over 25 years. For one amazing night, Jeff Pike and A1A were the Coral Reefers.