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Parrothead do’s and don’t’s

07-19-08 Nick Weir Sterling Illinois parties with friends parking lot Alpine Valley Music Theatre prior Saturday nights Jimmy Buffett concert.

07-19-08 Nick Weir of Sterling, Illinois, parties with friends in the parking lot of Alpine Valley Music Theatre prior to Saturday nights Jimmy Buffett concert. Photo by Chris Sweda/Sun-Times

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Updated: July 30, 2013 7:26AM

Dave Hoekstra, who started attending Jimmy Buffett concerts in 1981 and has seen the singer-songwriter 38 times, shares tips for first-timers:

Fans are called ‘Parrotheads’

The name was pegged by Timothy B. Schmit, a member of the Eagles, Poco and Buffett’s touring band. Schmit came up with the name after surveying 25,000 well-oiled music lovers. It was a spinoff of “Deadheads,” who generally smoke a lot more dope than “Parrotheads.”

The ‘Phins’ thing

One of Buffett’s most popular anthems is “Fins,” about a girl from Cincinnati looking for some peace and quiet. (Deep-grooved Buffett phans sign e-mails “Phins Up.” I have done this.)

Cued by the first few notes, fans immediately raise their arms in the shape of sharks and sway back and forth to the tropical rhythm. It looks like some kind of Santeria ritual in Cuba. Bonus points for fans who take the time to install a dorsal fin on the roof of the vehicle they are driving to the concert past the local constables.

Grass skirts, coconut bras

Acceptable for women. And men.

Flip-flops are popular in Buffett songs, but not Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House tank tops.

Also on the dress code: “Nothing you would wear to work or church!,” says Billy Brehm, president of the Chicago Parrothead Club.


Parrotheads wear parrot caps, of course, and cheeseburger caps paying homage to Buffett’s hit “Cheeseburger in Paradise”

Do not wear an ushanka.


“No martinis,” Brehm says. “Don’t get too drunk before the show.”

Listen to Buffett’s smash 1977 hit “Margaritaville” and just follow the instructions in the song: “shrimp is beginning to bubble.” There are cheeseburgers and boiling shrimp in the pre-concert tailgating, chased down by margaritas.

At the show

“Don’t sit down,” Brehm advises. That has annoyed Buffett virgins who have accompanied me to his concerts.

Beach balls

Really, this is the only part of a Buffett concert I don’t like. Too many beach balls can knock over your cold beer.

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