Band aims to turn NeighborFEST into Margaritaville

Forget calling today’s JCB NeighborFEST a festive, street party. Dave Albrecht and his bandmates aim to turn the proceedings into a beach blowout.

The show will be complete with an inflatable palm tree or two on the stage in front of The Commons at 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.

Albrecht and his five-piece trop-rock Parrots of the Caribbean, a Jimmy Buffett tribute band, have traveled the world over, turning a bit of every town into Margaritaville and riding the wave of long-lasting popularity of the sea-celebrating pop star.

“This is definitely not a bad gig,” Albrecht said with a chuckle, speaking by phone from his home in Dayton, Ohio, where he works by day in electronics.

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The lead singer acknowledged that being like Buffett can be much simpler at events similar to one the group played last year on the beach in Cancun, Mexico.

“There was a huge stage,” Albrecht said.

“And as I looked out, the ocean was just to my left.”

Talk about an opportunity for beach blanket lingo.

He formed the band in 2000, just about the time that his long-running Blues Brothers tribute band finally began singing the blues about bookings.

Oddly enough, though he has been backstage at a Buffett concert, the only time he met the singer and writer came at a book signing, several years before Albrecht launched his latest tribute band.

Soon after he launched the group, he began introducing a variety of costumes into the act, from the captain’s getup to a pirate outfit — fitting since his favorite Buffett tune is “A Pirate Looks at 40.”

“I’ve added my own little harmonica solo in the middle,” Albrecht said.

His act appeals to more than just sentimental Parrotheads pining for a real Buffett show. He has been known to dance onstage, and even get children up and dancing when the music is right. And many of the 10,000 who attend the annual Cheeseburger in Caseville Buffett bash in Michigan tell Albrecht and his bandmates that they are the best such tribute band for the son of a son of a sailor.

“I would put us up against anybody,” he said.

He has faced more than competition from the myriad of other such groups. Last year, Disney wanted him to change the band name, claiming it was too close to its classic “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. Albrecht kept the name, but let the copyright sail away.

He has played on floating stages, and alongside more rivers and lakes than he can remember. He has performed from Canada to Japan, and plenty of points in between.

“We get around,” he said, sounding a bit like another beach-oriented group.

Like any good seafarer worthy of an ocean of Buffett songs, he especially loves what he calls “cabin fever concerts” — gigs in January and February when snow and ice make it seem like summer is at least a deserted island away. He figures he can work his dual-role life for a few more years.

Then, when he actually retires from his day job, he can live a little more like Buffett himself, relaxing in the warm sand with a chilled drink.

“Well,” he said with a laugh, “except that I won’t have quite as much money as he does.”

Flip flops and pop tops

What: The Columbus Area Arts Council’s JCB NeighborFEST street concert featuring the Jimmy Buffet tribute band Parrots of the Caribbean.

When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today.

Where: Outside in front of The Commons at 300 Washington St. in Columbus. Rain location is inside The Commons.

Admission: Free

Food and drinks: Available at downtown restaurants.

Information: 812-376-2539 or artsincolumbus.org.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.