Jimmy Buffett and Gloria Estefan headline a fundraiser tonight for Miami Marine Stadium. The show takes place at Coral Gables Museum on Thursday, January 9, from 6:30-10:30 PM.
Surfer, author, environmentalist, budding new-media mogul, Margaritaville impresario and sometime musician Jimmy Buffett is on the phone, spinning out some not totally improbable ideas for the kind of events a revived Miami Marine Stadium might host.
Suffice to say it involves a melange of concerts live-streamed around the world and “hot chicks in bikinis’’ racing on stand-up paddleboards around the stadium’s oval watercourse, sponsorship by Budweiser. And, come to think of it, gay guys on paddleboards, too, why not? All demographics welcome.
“I have my shameless promoter hat on now,’’ Buffett says, laughing as he exercises his fertile imagination on behalf of his latest cause: Helping to bring the iconic but weatherworn, graffiti-covered stadium on Virginia Key back to life after a prolonged dormancy of more than 20 years.
“The marine stadium was a pretty special place, and Miami’s always been great to me, so why not?’’ Buffett said, speaking from his Palm Beach County home. “I’m in the fun business and things that make people happy. The first time I played it, I fell in love with it. How could you not? You’re on a floating stage surrounded by people in boats, and those incredible sunsets. It was such a unique place to play in.”
Buffett played the stadium a bunch of times, including a 1985 show memorialized on the Live by the Bay DVD. Just as it was for Estefan, playing the marine stadium for the first time was a big step up for Buffett, whose biggest show before that had been at a jai-alai fronton.
His most memorable at the marine stadium: the time he jumped from the barge that served as a stage into the scrum of swimmers, boaters and floaters in the water at the end of one especially sweaty performance. He had played two shows, which had been preceded by a 56-piece steel-drum band from Trinidad, the Desperadoes.
“I remember very vividly,” Buffett said. “It was the perfect opening act. It put people in a rather festive mood. It was like being in a water carnival. There was space between the barge and the first seats in the grandstand. There were people swimming in there. It was not out of control exactly, but it was rockin’.
“No one expected that diversified amount of floating objects from large yachts to inner tubes. The size of the crowd in the water was amazing.
“It was also extremely hot. At one point, I told my stage manager, ‘When this thing’s over, take my guitar, because I’m goin’ in.’”