2007-08-04 / Front Page

'Buffettman' plays to over 200 at ECC

To a lot of people who live in this place where grass only grows six months a year and where the closest salt water is six hours away, a golf course is their shangri-la, their paradise.

So it was fitting that cheeseburgers were among the menu items when Tom Watt, the nation's number one Jimmy Buffett impersonator, performed at the Emporium Country Club Saturday. (For the poor souls among us who are not yet acquainted with Jimmy Buffett's music, Cheeseburges In Paradise is a classic fan favorite.)

Watt, the man who so closely resembles Jimmy Buffett that he stepped in as a movie double for the 60-year-old pirate rocker recently, played a three set show that kept the crowd of more than 200 hundred swaying to the feel-good, island rythyms made popular by Buffett over the past 30 years.

It was the second year the Country Club hosted the event and organizers said they were extremely pleased with the turnout.

"Hey, this is fantastic," said Rick Kahnell, a club director who also sits on the fund-raiser committee. "Great weather. Great turnout. We're real happy."

His wife, Mary Jo, who also sits on the fund-raiser committee, said discussions have already been held with Watt about returning next year.

"It takes a lot of people to bring an event like this together," Mary Jo said. "There have been so many people who have volunteered to help make this a success. We just want to thank them and everyone who came out to see the show."

Event-goers were treated to a buffett (improper spelling intended) dinner. In additon to the famous cheeseburgers, french fried potatoes (again, have to know the song), a salad, fruit and chicken shish kabobs, were served.

In addition to playing dozens of Buffett covers like Margaritaville, Five O'Clock Somewhere, A Pirate Looks At 40, Growing Older, but Not Up and Jolly Mon, Watt and his band also performed songs by Elvis, Lynyrd Skinner, Van Morrison and others.

Watt, who does voice impersonations of other famous singers and songwriters, became popular as a Buffett impersonator when he began playing in the parking lot at Buffett concerts in the late 1990s.

In those days, he played a karaoke-style gig, with only other musicians playing small parts on a select number of songs. He has always played the guitar parts.

Since then, he has added a lead guitarist (his son Zach), a steel drum player (Adam Warble), and a canga player. His wife, Mary Lou, manages the business and coordinates their schedule.

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