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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!
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Lead vocalist Jeff Pike, along with Eric Baumgartner, Rick Meeder, Chris Blackwell, Wayne Viar, Scotty Sells, Vance Kelly, Tom Morfoot, and Foe Davis, will be performing at the Geranium Jam 2016, following the Geranium Festival this Saturday, May 21.
The A1A band—the official and original Jimmy Buffet Tribute band—formed over their absolute love of Jimmy Buffet, his music and the laid-back lifestyle his music describes AND provides.
According to Pike, “In 1991 I asked Atlanta Parrot Head Club Founder, Scott Nickerson to join me in my already successful one-man tribute to Jimmy Buffett.”
“In 1992, we won a Jimmy Buffett Sound-Alike Contest for Margaritaville Records, and the A1A ball started rolling—a ball that is still rolling 25 years later,” he said.
As the band grew, they were instrumental in the fundamental building and growth of the International Parrot Head Club community—the official fan club of Jimmy Buffet—as well the Trop Rock Music genre as it is today. They’ve released 3 original Trop Rock albums, in addition to their tributes.
“Jimmy Buffet and other members from his band, Greg “Fingers” Taylor, Mac McAnally, Michael Utley, Robert Greenidge, Peter Mayer, Nadirah Shakoor and Tina Gullickson have all performed with us over the years,” Pike said.
In 2009 Nadirah Shakoor chose A1A to be her back up band to help promote her Mailboat Records release, ‘Nod To The Story Teller.’ Not only has the band been surfing the music scene, but the big screen as well. Jimmy Buffett was instrumental in landing A1A in the Lions Gate Major Motion Picture Release, ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting,’ where they recorded the classic “Why Don’t We Get Drunk,” which was included in the movie and on the soundtrack released by Capitol Records.
A1A is so awesome, they were even asked to be Jimmy’s band for a private performance for The World Surf League at The Master’s Open. “Not surprisingly, we were very proud to be Jimmy’s ‘Coral Reefer Band’ for a day,” Pike said.
Pike said his favorite song to play is “Come Monday,” and this week he’s been listening to a lot of Al Green, Daryl Hall, Hall and Oates, George Strait and Thin Lizzy, proving that they are well-rounded musicians and are not one-trick ponies. Additionally, all the musicians in the band have a broad background in music, which attributes to them putting on one heck of a good show.
“I could write a book on the accomplishments of the esteemed members of my band,” Pike said. “They are all career musicians and have been involved in many successful projects and bands, from bars to theaters, arenas, stadiums, Broadway and back again,” he said.
“I am blessed to have some of the best musicians in the state of Georgia and I do not take it lightly. I am very blessed and humbled.”
Be sure to attend the Geranium Jam JailHouse Beach Party outdoor concert at 55 Harkins Street on May 21, from 6 p.m.–10 p.m. to check out A1A Let’s Get Tropical, The Georgia Flood, and the McDonough Rhythm Section!
If you can’t make the event, blend yourself a margarita, lay back in a beach chair and check out the A1A’s Facebook, Twitter, and music pages.