I hope this message finds all of you safe, healthy, and happy. Given the state of the world we are in at the moment, I realize that might be a bit of a tall order, but it is my hope all the same. We can do it.
In going through my notes, I realized that my last update was seven months ago, in March of 2021. To me, that seems like a lifetime ago, and yet, at the same time, our concert season this year has seemed to fly by like a Space X rocket headed towards outer space in search of William Shatner. I cannot for the life of me believe that it is already almost the end of October. In retrospect, I am chalking that up to the fact that we became substantially busier and more booked than any of us had counted on - which of course, was an excellent problem to have after the previous year of lockdown and almost no work at all. Although, the unexpected but welcomed work did bring about its own set of scheduling problems for other projects I had previously planned.
We started off our season with a short weekend tour of Tennessee which was very successful. That fun-filled weekend got the ball rolling, and the rest of our summer and fall calendar quickly became filled. I have many new photos that I am working on getting posted as quickly as possible, so please be sure and check out 'Photos' under the 'Media' section here at A1A-Live.com regularly to see what content has been added. Make yourself a cocktail, plop yourself down in a comfy chair and check out the many photos from our travels this year. Feel free to save and share the ones you want.
I have to say that the band came into 2021 with renewed vigor and gratitude for the blessings we all have in getting to play music for a living, and it paid off in spades, both for the band and our audience. This year, having our horn section and The A1A Pirates become a more consistent part of our show was a real treat, and if that weren't enough, we were blessed to have the opportunity to add a new female voice to our family this year in Adena Brumer. Adena is an incredible vocalist and performer and just an all-around wonderful human being. Please check her out in the 'About' section here at A1A-Live.com and bid her welcome! All of the above got rave reviews from our audience, and I am looking forward to exploring the theatrical possibilities of this lineup even further in 2022.
Every person in A1A is world-class, and I am very grateful to share the stage and work with them night after night. That being said, it should come as no surprise that all of them are involved in other projects. To be a successful full-time musician in today's world, you have to juggle a lot of musical plates. If you are exceptional on your instrument and bring a professional attitude and work ethic, your plate can quickly become full. I encourage you to read about all the members in A1A on the "About A1A" page here on A1A-Live.com and support them. They are all incredible at what they do.
Unbeknown to some, Chris Blackwell, Wayne Viar, and I also tour in ABBA MANIA during our off-season. For those who do not know, ABBA MANIA is the world's #1 Touring Abba Tribute Show. If you would like to know if ABBA MANIA is coming to a town near you, visit www.jeffpike.com. All of the dates and ticket information will be posted there. We will be hitting the road in a few days, which is why our A1A season got cut a little short this year. We return a couple of days before Thanksgiving and will be taking the rest of the year off. During my time off, I will be working on packaging and marketing my new album that I need to get out next year and re-working the A1A show for 2022. ABBA MANIA goes out again in late January and finishes up on March 14. Soooo.....we look forward to seeing you starting in April of 2022.
I want to thank everyone who came out to see a show this past year. We played in front of many people, and each and every one made us feel happy, special, and needed. Believe me when I tell you that I do not take it for granted.
In closing, please follow us on Facebook and Instagram. If you are not already on it, please sign up for our e-mail list for up-to-the-minute information and updates. Everyone stay safe, healthy, happy, and productive....until we meet again.
Trop Rockin' You Through '22,
Hey, it's me, Jeff Pike. Oh, and my band is here too. A1A. Remember us? Yes, I know. It has been quite a long time since I checked in with you. My bad. As you are all very aware, 2020 was not much of a year to write home about. Since we were all living out the same nightmare, I figured why waste words? Save energy and time, right? Hmmm....now that I think about it, most people did have a lot of time at home in 2020, so perhaps I should have written more often. Again, sorry about that. Hey, it is a new year, and I am back and in good health, as is the band. I sincerely hope you are too. As you may well surmise, like the rest of you, I could write pages on all the horrible things that happened last year and what a very frightening state the world is in right now, but I will not do that. Yes, we all lived through major losses, some more than others, but for those still alive and can read this, I suggest we be thankful, happy, and full of gratitude - on a grand scale.
There is so much on earth to be thankful for. The list is literally endless, but for narrowing it down to one common interest, all of you reading this share - music. Countless musicians lost the opportunity to perform their craft and earn a living last year. A1A played only 6 shows last year. The worst year in our 30 year history. The industry itself was almost destroyed, and regardless of what happens in 2021, it will take years to come back completely. Assuming that is even a possibility. People missed so much last year, and I believe one could make a reasonable argument stating that everyone missed "live music" more than anything. COVID-19 forced everyone indoors, and so much of the world was isolated for a long period of time. This isolation forced much of the world to exist mainly online, and what did you find online more than almost anything? You found live streaming concerts. The crisis made people think outside the box. One result was that new platforms were born and perfected to bring communication and music to a world that craved it. If I may say so, I believe that, if anything, the past year in lockdown has shown us, music and the arts are more important and vital to life than many recognize or understand. Music is like blood. It gives life. It hurts. It heals. It is extraordinarily powerful. Respect the art and those who create it, for there is still much beauty in the world. Look for it. Find it. Embrace it, and share it with those you love.
So I tell you all of that to tell you this. This is a new year, my friends. Spring is just around the corner, and we need to remember that life is what we make of it. Attitude, action, and confidence are everything. We have a good number of shows booked for 2021, with more on the way. We are very excited and pumped to get back on stage. We will be adding some more new songs this year and promise to give you the high-quality, energetic, frenzied fun we have always given you. Check out our concert calendar, follow us on Facebook and Instagram and be sure and share your thoughts. We are all in this together. Ok, I have written enough. It is a nice day out, so I think I will put on some island music and go for a walk. See you from the stage in 2021! Stay well, take care and be sure, and catch a show!
Yours on island time,
Hello Phriends and Phans,
It appears to have been quite some time since I shared some A1A news with everyone, so before the holidays commence, I wanted to touch base.
The first thing I want to share with you is that we have a brand new website. The address is still the same (www.A1A-Live.com), but it is still under some serious construction. Given the fact that we are 28 years old, I can most likely say that it will be under construction long after I am gone! There is so much history to put up there it is mind-boggling. So please come back often and see what we have added.
Speaking of new content, we are working on editing new audio and video to add to the website and to use for promotional material. We hired our good friend Josh Jachles of Jakyl Films to shoot the entire last concert of our 2019 season in Grayson, Georgia, on October 5. Josh brought out a full ten camera shoot for us, and we all had a fantastic evening. We are hoping to have all of the new footage up on the website before the New Year.
Once again, the season flew by, and I cannot believe it is almost December. The last thing I remember was last February when I was looking at my extremely full calendar, which lies ahead for 2019 and wondering how in the world I would get through it all. Blink of an eye, and it is Thanksgiving. I still can't get my head around the passing of time.
At any rate, we had a fantastic year. All of the shows were fantastic, the band was superb, and we made a lot more wonderful memories. I want to thank everyone who is involved in and around A1A, for none of it could happen without them. I am blessed and very proud to be surrounded by the best musicians and sound engineers I have ever known, and it is always a treat when I take the stage with them. Of course, the most important people are the people who come to our shows, book the band and who have stood beside us since it all started back in 1991. Our 30th anniversary will be coming up in 2021, and I look forward to a big celebration. In the meantime, there is still work to be done and fun to be had. So let's party with a purpose, and we look forward to seeing you again in 2020!
Let's get tropical,
We are excited to announce our new updated website version 2.0. Have a look around and let us know your thoughts.
New Dates Added. Follow and Track A1A on BandsInTown.com to keep-up-to-date with all future dates.
All of us in A1A extend deep and heartfelt Birthday wishes, thanks, appreciation and gratitude to our manager Kathy Mullen today on her Birthday. Her tireless smile, commitment, passion, belief, drive, friendship and love for what she does touches many and keeps us rolling on. Thank you, Kathy, for what you do for each and every one of us. Have a great Birthday!
Jeff Pike and A1A were a huge part of the Parrot Head Phenomenon from the very beginning. Check us out along with a little bit of our early story in the first ever official documentary about Parrot Heads.
One of the most loyal and dedicated fan bases in music history are the fans of Jimmy Buffett, affectionately known as the Parrot Heads . The legendary history of how this amazing sub-culture came to be will now be told in the original 90-minute documentary Parrot Heads.
Directed by Bryce Wagoner, the film chronicles the birth of the movement when a young musician named Scott Nickerson, a big fan of Buffett s music, decided to put an ad in a local paper to corral any Buffett fans in the Atlanta area for a get together. What began as a small group of friends that would hang out on weekends has now grown into a worldwide organization known as Parrot Heads In Paradise, which promotes the message party with a purpose and has raised more than 40 million dollars in charity donations.
Traversing the globe from Key West to Paris, Costa Rica to California, the international phenomenon is greater than ever and has even sparked its own genre of music, Trop Rock (short for Tropical Rock).
Featuring never before seen interviews with Jimmy Buffett himself.
You can pick up your copy today – Just ‘click here’
Also available on Netflix
Q & A with A1A: The Official and Original Jimmy Buffett Tribute Show Celebrates the Big “25”
Article and Interview by Ashton Pike
For 25 years, A1A has been acclaimed as the Official and Original Jimmy Buffett Tribute Show, and for 25 years, they have been excelling with loyal Parrot Heads in tow. From its start as a one man band in 1991 to its transformative growth over the past 25 years that has resulted from overcoming multiple changes in band members, economic recessions, and personal hardships, A1A has repeatedly proven that they are a one-of-a-kind, unparalleled Trop Rock band that is here to stay; and the residents of Margaritaville couldn’t be more thrilled.
With a few moments to spare between sound check and show time, a few of the current members of A1A – Jeff Pike, Rick Meeder, Eric Baumgartner, Chris Blackwell, and Vance Kelly – including Manager Kathy Mullen laid out the facts of what it’s like being a part of a band that’s become well-established and at the top of the Trop Rock genre by its quarter of a century birthday.
Q: Over the past 25 years, A1A has played nearly 1,000 shows worldwide. During your last 4 years as the piano, keyboard and vocals of the Trop Rock performance, what has been the most memorable show you have ever played?
A: (Eric Baumgartner, Piano, Keyboard and Vocals, 2012) Hands down, playing on stage with Jimmy Buffett at The Master’s this spring. He’s the one who created the whole genre of music, and as we came up on stage to join him during “Change in Latitude”, it was the coolest thing to hear Jimmy Buffett’s voice come out of my monitor on stage instead of Jeff’s! I didn’t expect that to be the thing that surprised me, but it was just an incredibly surreal moment that I’ll never forget.
Q: We all know that putting 7 men in a green room together before every show has most likely resulted in some interesting stories and jokes. How would you describe the charisma of the band back stage?
A: (Chris Blackwell, Lead Guitar, 2014) Hmm, well. We’re the Three’s Company of tribute bands. There’s clear defiance of one another’s ideals, misunderstandings running rampant and underpinning rage. No, no, I’m just kidding. All jokes aside, there is clearly a brotherhood between the guys back stage, before and after shows.
Q: As one of the few members of A1A who currently have been with the band for over 10 years, what is something that you notice hasn’t changed over the years even when the band’s members did?
A: (Vance Kelly, Saxophone and Production, 2004) The comedy! There’s always one thing at every show that becomes the most memorable, no matter how good or bad the show was. We always have good stories to tell regardless, and it’s like a connector for the band – something we can all talk about or relate to that builds the bond between the guys.
Q: As the founder of A1A, you’ve been a part of it all for the past 25 years. What has been the largest obstacle the band has had overcome?
A: (Jeff Pike, Lead Vocals and Acoustic Guitar, 1991) As the Parrot Head Club has grown over the years, our popularity also grew, and other bands starting popping up trying to replicate what we do. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the rising Trop Rock bands weren’t as high of quality as A1A, and in turn, their presence in the genre watered down the respect of what we do on some level. As some clients have chosen the lesser, inexpensive bands, we’ve had to constantly prove why we’re better and worth the money in comparison. We’ve had to prove why we are the true Official and Original Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band.
Q: So, A1A essentially laid the path for other Trop Rock bands who then attempted to follow in the band’s footsteps. What makes A1A unique to stand out among the newer Jimmy Buffett Tribute bands?
A: (Rick Meeder, Bass Guitar and Vocals, 2009) There are several bands out there doing Trop Rock like Jeff said, but no one is doing it how we’re doing it – or to the extent that we’re doing it. The whole concept of A1A that started 25 years ago has evolved immensely in production and material, which has given A1A the true Buffett persona throughout the years that other bands are just not able to match.
Q: Though the effect is different for everyone, what have you gained personally by being a part of a high-production, Jimmy Buffett entertainment band like A1A?
A: (Wayne Viar, Drums and Percussion, 2009) In the last 7 years as a member of A1A, I’d say I’ve gained a huge appreciation for quality production. From the planning stage and getting the gear to the logistics and all the way to the end of the show, I see the immense effort necessary to do the quality job that A1A does for every show, and it’s an insightful and humbling influence.
Q: As the 25th Anniversary year peaks at the halfway mark this summer, what would you say has been A1A’s biggest accomplishment of 2016 so far?
A: (Vance Kelly, Saxophone and Production, 2004) As Eric mentioned earlier, playing with Jimmy Buffett at the Master’s this past April was an incredible day in the history of A1A. For Jimmy Buffett to have requested A1A to be his famous Coral Reefer Band for the show, it was a huge honor.
Q: In your short two years and still counting as A1A’s Manager, the band has had nothing but incredible things to say about you and your dedication to A1A’s present and future. How have you seen the band progress?
A: (Kathy Mullen, Manager, 2014) I have the shortest tenure with A1A, but I’m in the middle of and witnessing significant changes! We have created a business model with a foundation for immense growth, and we are striving to put a fresh look into A1A by adding more shows at new venues with our overarching goal being to create a bigger and better show, aligning more with Jimmy Buffett. With a phenomenal band where each member has extraordinary talent, bringing their talent together to form A1A combined with the ongoing changes guarantees numerous performances to remember.
Q: Now we know what the woman in charge has to say about the future of A1A in terms of business, but what do you see or hope to see in the future for A1A as the man who started it all?
A: (Jeff Pike, Lead Vocalist and Acoustic Guitar, 1991) Overall, I would like to see us do more original music to break back into the market as well as make our shows bigger, production wise. However, to put it simply, I would just like to keep this band in the future. A1A has conquered numerous obstacles, made great progress and has changed frequently, but it is truly an original, and so my hope is to keep it.
With each show, A1A proves why they are the Official and Original Jimmy Buffett Tribute Show. Performing classic favorites that get the crowd off of their feet and clapping to the beat like “Cheeseburger in Paradise” or swaying on the dance floor with their loved one like “Come Monday”, each performance is truly memorable for Parrot Heads stuck on island time.
The inclusion of A1A originals into every show exposes the band’s own personality and is evidence of their hard work and dedication over the past 25 years to not just being a Jimmy Buffett Tribute Show, but also being a success in the Tropical Rock music industry. Well, leis off to this group of talented gentlemen and cheers to hopefully 25 more years of A1A’s spectacular shows. Happy 25th Birthday, fellas!
by Ashton Pike c/o TwentySomethingandFearless.wordpress.com
There may not have been cheeseburgers served, but it was most certainly paradise. This past winter (December 2015), A1A lived the high life as they packed their bags and flew to the Grand Cayman Islands in anticipation for a birthday show like no other. When A1A Manager Kathy Mullen received an email from Ellen Schwartz regarding a private party featuring A1A for her long-time significant other’s birthday, she beamed with excitement, knowing an incredible opportunity had just risen for the band, but what she nor the rest of the band could have prepared for was the astounding, once-in-a-lifetime experience they were about to witness firsthand.
Adrien Briggs is an icon on the island of Grand Cayman and was the man of the weekend as his love for Jimmy Buffett and his status as a Parrot Head brought the A1A crew to the island over 1,000 miles away from Atlanta, GA. Co-owner of the family-owned Sunset House (Grand Cayman’s Hotel for Divers, By Divers – sunsethouse.com), Rum Point Club (rumpointclub.com) and Red Sail Sports (redsailcayman.com), Adrien has brought immense success not only to himself but to the island he calls home. His businesses have endured through years of operation and continue to be a huge asset to the island’s tourism. But for the few days the crew was in town, it was all play and no work for Adrien’s big birthday!
As the Managing Director of Travel Pros (travelproscayman.com) and, according to Kathy, just about the best woman to work with, Ellen Schwartz, Adrien’s significant other, was able to plan and book flights from Atlanta to the Grand Cayman Islands for the band plus one – myself being the plus one. Between her patient back-and-forth communication prior to the trip and Adrien’s incredible hospitality by allowing us to reside at Sunset House, the two are a true dynamic duo that brighten any room (or beach!).
The day before the birthday soiree, Adrien and Ellen treated the band to a day in the life of an islander on a permanent vacation. We set sail on the Spirit Cayman with Red Sail Sports in the early morning with the sun high and the skies clear. Anchored far out in crystal blue water near the northern tip of the island, we got the unbelievable opportunity to snorkel with stingrays in a bay area that has popularly become known as Stingray City. Surprisingly, they were calm and loving creatures, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t on our toes a few times! After a day out on the water, Adrien and Ellen brought us back to Rum Point Club, one of Adrien’s top successes tucked away on the northern tip of the island, where colorful bungalows, picnic tables and decorations brought the quaint beach area to life. The band along with everyone in tow were all smiles and tanned skin at the end of the day as we sipped on beachy beverages and watched the sun sink into the ocean.
Day two on the island meant it was back to business with an eventful and exciting day ahead of us! Sound check with the band began promptly at 3:00pm, and with the band in high spirits and the sun shining bright, it was a beautiful day in paradise! As 8:00pm neared when the show began, guests arrived by boats large and small, donning their best island attire – that’s right, lots of florals! Lights were strung between palm trees and guests were treated to a variety of gourmet treats from fresh fish to delicious meats, and of course the desserts had a table of their own. The Parrot Head theme held true throughout the party as margaritas were poured, Coronas were sipped and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” began to play. It didn’t take long for the large crowd to hit the sandy dance floor as A1A lured the party-goers with the classic “Margaritaville”. Adrien and Ellen took their well-deserved spotlight in front of the stage and danced ‘til the music stopped and not a moment sooner.
From the island cuisines and themed decor to the beautiful beach backdrop and wonderfully pleased Adrien and Ellen, the night could not have gone any better. Ellen transformed Rum Point Club into a true Maragaritaville like a dream come true for Adrien, and A1A delivered seamlessly. Although it was bitter sweet to pack up and leave the beautiful island, we want to thank Adrien Briggs and Ellen Schwartz yet again for an incredible experience and a wonderful evening. A1A is honored to have been chosen to help give Adrien the birthday celebration he truly deserved. We hope to be back in the Grand Caymans very soon. After all, changes in latitude, changes in attitude!