For the past couple of decades, the bread and butter -- or, if you prefer the salt on the margarita -- for Jimmy Buffett has been his live show.
His concerts are events, mass gatherings of Parrotheads wearing shirts and headware and doing things with coconut shells that are only appropriate in one place. Wherever Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band set down, Margaritaville becomes more than just a state of mind for that particular evening.
It almost makes you forget Buffett makes records, too. But he does -- and has been for 45 years this summer. His releases started going Top during the 90s, and he nailed his first No. 1 with 2004's "License To Chill." But Buffett -- whose empire also includes restaurants, satellite radio, Internet radio and TV stations and his own record label -- says he, like so many other artists, is taking his time figuring out the best way to release music in the digital age.
"Will we do another album? I don't know the answer to that," Buffett, 68, says by phone. "We're just trying the find the system where the next batch of new music goes. It's certainly not like it was when I started out, or for most of my career, for that matter."
Yet Buffett acknowledges he's still a fan of the traditional album, and he's confident his fans feel the same way. "For me an album is just about adding something; if you like this, you can add it to the collection," he explains. "I'm not out there trying ti win hits or chase Grammys or (stuff) like that. I'm just trying to stay in the game at our level."
Buffett sees the potential for using the digital world to his advantage, too -- such as live or filmed streams of he and the band in the studio working on new music, and possibly investing the Parrotheads in the process. "We can have 'em in there watching us make it, and they can say what songs they want -- that's the kind of thing I'm looking at," he says. He also hopes that seeing an album being made will make fans more apt to actually buy it when it comes out.
"The beauty of having the other guys in the same room is you can switch gears and automatically make changes or go on to something else instead of having the one idea you've been presented with and having to bang your head against the wall to make it work," he explains. "Truth be told, that's the way it should be. That's the way we made the last few albums, and it was an amazing experience. I think we all really, really enjoyed that, and I think that's something people would enjoy seeing."
Jimmy Buffett & the Coral Reefer Band and Sonny Landreth
8 p.m. Thursday, June 25.
West Riverfront Park, 1801 W. Jefferson Ave. at 10th Street, Detroit.
Tickets are $49.50-$139.50.
Visit www.olympiaentertainment.com for more information.
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