Margaritaville Lake Resort in Osage Beach Hosts This Jimmy Buffett-Style Music Festival
While the rapid of growth within the “trop rock” music genre is a sign of success, it also has its drawbacks.
One of those drawbacks is an explosion in the number of trop rock music festivals. How is that a “drawback” you ask? Even with the growth in fans, the large increase of festivals has begun to stretch that fanbase thin. The vast majority of fans have a limited amount of time off, not to mention finite funds to pay the registration fees, travel, and accommodations required to attend all these multiple day events around the country.
It is for this reason anyone even thinking about starting up a new event may be considered a “little off” by many.
Mark and Colleen Fuchs, of Sullivan Missouri, had their concerns about taking on such a task.
I asked them how they ended up leading such a risky effort:
“Mark and I wanted to put an event together because we love the Trop Rock family. Not being super involved in the local clubs, we miss organizing charity events and raising money for important causes. We asked ourselves ‘why can’t we just do it on our own?’ So we did!
“We did a much smaller version two years ago, Trop Rockin River Fest, but knew we could do something even bigger and better! When Margaritaville was mentioned to be coming to Lake of the Ozarks, that was the final push we needed to go big! It was a huge risk but it was a risk worth taking. We will be writing a check to the USO for more than $8,000.”
So they created Trop Rockin’ Ozarks Fest, held Aug. 22-25 on the Lake Of The Ozarks in Missouri
Mark and Colleen said they never would have been able to pull it off without help from the Free Range Parrots hard-working volunteers. While many pitched in, folks like Brad and Brenda Jones, Todd and Jane Alexander, Keith Davis, Elaine Rossy and Mary Benefield spent countless hours contributing their own talents in organizing, decorating, crowd control, setting up, breaking down, and all the other things that take place behind the scenes. No event ever happens without some hiccups and glitches, but the key is to have team players like these so the registrants never know of them.
Since I’ve brought up the “Free Range Parrots” I should briefly explain. The Free Range Parrots have a motto of, “Loyal to all, exclusive to none.” It is an unofficial “club”. It is no way sanctioned by the other “parrot” club I have written about in the past. It’s pretty simple, just a group of folks that want to have a great time and help people out while not being restricted by a certain a geographic location.
Trop Rockin’ Ozarks Fest took place at the newly branded Margaritaville Lake Resort in Osage Beach Missouri, on the banks of the Lake of the Ozarks. The resort is the perfect venue for a music festival that celebrates the Jimmy Buffett lifestyle. Among the locations where live music took place included the Landshark Bar, the Tiki Bar Pool and a ballroom transformed into a music party room. Mark and Colleen did a great job of mixing in just the right amount of local talent and nationally touring bands.
Thursday, the first night of the event, took place at the Landshark Bar. The bar towers above a deck that literally sits on the lake. As the attendees began to file in and visit with each other like family arriving at an annual reunion, Art Bentley opened the event with a great show. Art is a skillful songwriter that knows how to tell a story through song, often with a twist.
Art closed his show with the crowd favorite “Bear in a Bar in Butte Montana.” Art had everyone up and dancing for this peculiar song.
Rick Lamb, a very talented musician in his own right, was running sound for the weekend which resulted in very quick transitions from act to act. Following Art, Mike McEnery took the stage with Mark Vesser, aka Catfish, accompanying him on harmonica. Mike and Mark did a great job entertaining the surprisingly large crowd for a Thursday night.
They had a few guests on stage perform that would be performing later in the event as a teaser of what was to come.
Friday, the first full day of the event, started at the main pool. It was the perfect setting with the pool being flanked by a huge palapa Tiki Bar on one side and the stage for the music on the other.
John Friday, a trop rock long-time. legend was first up along with Future trop rock legend Isabella Stefania. It was a fantastic way to see on stage simultaneously someone that has had a great impact on trop rock for many years along side someone that is sure to be making her own impact for years into the future. Toward the end of their show a brief rainstorm came through but these die-hard trop rockers didn’t let a little sprinkle spoil the party. They stayed put ready for the next act.
Following John and Isabella, “Barefoot” Reggie Starrett from Georgia took the stage. Reggie does in fact play barefoot, but the nickname is more of a style for his music: laid back, relaxed, and unassuming. Reggie got the crowd into the drinking mood with some of his great sing-along songs such as “This Beer Right Here (Is Making Me Awesome),” and “Rum and Somethin,’ “ both co-written by Donny Brewer. Reggie also introduced the listeners to some of his new music like his song “Pirates and Mermaids.”
By the time the next act, Jesse Rice, took the stage the sun began to make its return to the pool deck. Jesse Rice is an award winning songwriter to include co-writing Cruise, Billboard’s longest running #1 song in history. Jesse’s fan base was in full force standing and dancing in front of the stage for the entire show as he played their favorites from his Pirate Sessions albums.
After a dinner break, the party moved to the ballroom with a full stage, dance floor, bar, plenty of comfortable seating, and a vendor area. First up for the evening show was Swim Skinny (Chris Baer) with Tom Johnson and Chris’ son Kyle. Mark and Colleen certainly pulled a rabbit out of their hat for this one since Swim Skinny had taken a few years off from performing. This show was Swim Skinny’s first in over four years. The trio did not disappoint with Chris going back and forth from thoughtful ballads to upbeat party tunes.
Rick Lamb and the Phin-Addicts then took the stage to close out the night. Having seen Rick perform dozens of times I already knew what was about to happen. A non-stop high energy show that was going to put everyone’s “fun-endurance” to the test. After a full day at the pool, would Rick and the Phin-Addicts be able to keep them moving? The answer was yes. Rick and his band kept the fast-paced music going at a relentless pace, barely taking time to take a breath between songs. Although the music was to stop at midnight, Rick’s energy spilled over into the early morning to everyone’s delight.
Saturday’s show came early at 11 a.m., with Jim Hoehn being the first to make the attempt to kick-start the crowd on the pool deck. Jim had the early risers listening intently to his elaborate stories and thoughtful lyrics in his songs. It was laughs and smiles all around the pool. The rain tried to ruin another day of fun but these trop rock fans would not allow it. Most folks just figured they had planned on going swimming anyway, so what does a little sprinkle of rain hurt?
One of the most popular duos on the trop rock circuit took stage next. Thom Shepherd and Coley McCabe, both award-winning singer/songwriters individually, make an unbeatable pair when they perform together. They have a way of taking you on a musical journey from crying to laughing out loud just minutes apart. It’s not totally unexpected to see crazy and unusual things at these shows. During Thom’s song “Djibouti” – a word play song about a small country in Northeast Africa – Julia Manker decided to model her new swimsuit for the crowd. Her suit was a one piece with an oversized picture of her husband on the front and back with his mouth and tongue being strategically placed in such a way that showing it off during a song titled “Djibouti” was very well timed.
Following Thom and Coley, Cory Young took to the pool deck stage. Cory spent some time living on a boat in the Florida Keys, which is the inspiration for much of the songs he has written and performs. Listening to his songs about beaches, Key West bars and the relaxed lifestyle in general was a great way to spend an afternoon by the pool.
Cory sometimes puts a different thought into a song. In “Tan Lines,” the “tan line” is the line left by a wedding ring recently taken off, so he advises people ot “stay away from tan lines.” In “Who’s Crazy,” he asks “who is crazy?,” a responsible person working a full-time job or someone that chucks it all to pursue their dreams.
Don Middlebrook and Flipper took the stage first in the ballroom to begin the evenings musical lineup. Don is another trop rock legend that has been touring the country entertaining for well over a decade or two. Don has a great way of getting the crowd involved, never missing a chance to get a few folks up on stage as dancers or any other reason he can think up.
Don also has a knack for coming up with songs on the spot about something or someone in the crowd. On this particular occasion he ad-libbed a song using a twist on the spelling of the event host’s last name, F.U.C.H. (S) no “K”.
Closing out the evening was Jimmy Parrish and the Waves. Jimmy and his band are nationally touring artists out of Jacksonville, Florida. They are one of the most popular bands on the trop rock circuit. Jimmy Parrish and the Waves kept the crowd on their feet and near the stage the entire night singing songs about islands, hot sauce, band wagons, and a funny tune about a local hooker, that is not a lady “of the evening” but instead a fisherman.
After Jimmy’s performance we headed down to the “afterparty,” which was taking place in the presidential suite just below the ballroom. It is not uncommon, and almost expected at these events, for a late night afterparty to take place in which some of the artists grab a cold beverage and sit around with their fans to play more tunes, usually acoustic, and sing-alongs.
This is one of those things that makes the trop rock genre different than the rest of the types of music. The artists enjoy and appreciate their fans so much they love to just hang out with them on a personal level.
I have been to hundreds of events, and dozens upon dozens of these afterparties and I have to say this could be the most organized I’ve ever seen. Although part of the allure of the afterparty its spontaneity, the fact they had a sound system, drinks and snacks ready at this one made it all that much better.
One of the organizers of the event, Brad Jones, invited a local musician, David Baker, who wasn’t officially playing the event, to sit in for the after party. It was interesting to look around the room at the faces as David began to perform. It was a combination of “where the hell did this guy come from” to “who is this guy and why isn’t he performing on the stage during the day?”
David Baker made a lot of new fans that night.
More magical moments from the afterparty included Paul Roush and Thom Shepherd singing “Ghost of New Orleans,” which was written by Thom and covered by Paul on one of his albums. Another great moment included Coley McCabe singing “Shore Thang” off her and Thom’s newest CD Shotgun. I’m not sure how long the afterparty lasted but we had to head back to get some rest around 3 in the morning and it was still going strong.
What could be better after a late night than a Bloody Mary morning and that is exactly what was in store for everyone that decided to stay for the last show.
Paul Roush and Dave McKenny took turns on stage as the party weary audience helped themselves to a “build-your-own” Bloody Mary bar. Paul Roush is known for his smooth vocals and Dave McKenney for his insightful lyrics which almost pull you into the story.
Looking around during this show I noticed that each in attendance were focused and enjoying Paul and Dave as they discussed the stories behind, and performed each song. As they ended their show I watched as everyone said their good-byes to each other promising to see each other again soon. You could tell by every face, no one wanted the weekend to end, but it had to end, of course.
I now look back and realize that the size of the “pre-party” crowd was the first indication this event was going to be a pleasant surprise to all. I say that because a first year event always comes with low expectations for attendance. Throw in the fact this event had no officially sanctioned “club” to promote within their ranks meant folks were thinking it was just going to be pretty good time at a really neat resort with a few dozen of their friends.
Nothing could be further from the actual results. Attendance was much stronger than expected. Add to that the quality of each musical performance, and how the audience at each fed off the energy from the show and you’ve got an unforgettable event.
Another indication of the buzz this event has created within the trop rock community can be found in the fact that Radio Trop Rock, which was broadcasting the majority of the event live on air, saw an increase in listenership of over 30% for the weekend when compared to the average of other live events broadcast in the past.
It was also being broadcast live on Facebook on the Diablo Creek Music page. There is no doubt those watching or listening online were regretting their decision to not attend and will most certainly make time in their schedule for next year’s Trop Rockin’ Ozarks Fest which is schedule for August 13-16 2020 at the Margaritaville Lake Resort in Osage Beach Missouri. Join us for a great time while raising money for a worthy charity, the USO.
For details on next year’s event search “Free Range Parrots” in your Facebook search window.
Art Bentley: ArtBentley.com
Mike McEnery: jshrimp.com
John Friday: JohnFriday.com
Isabella Stefania: IsabellaStefania.com
“Barefoot” Reggie Starrett: ReverbNation.com/reggiestarrett
Jesse Rice: JesseKRice.com
Swim Skinny: ReverbNation.com/swimskinny
Rick Lamb & The Phin-Addicts: Phin-Addicts.com
Jim Hoehn: JimHoehn.com
Thom Shepherd & Coley McCabe: ThomAndColey.com
Cory Young: CoryYoungMusic.com
Don Middlebrook: DonMiddlebrook.net
Jimmy Parrish & The Waves: JimmyParrishOnline.com
Paul Roush: PaulRoush.com
Dave McKenney: DaveMcKenneyMusic.com
Diablo Creek Music: Enter “Diablo Creek Music” in your Facebook search window.
Radio Trop Rock: RadioTropRock.com
United Services Organization – USO: USO.org