MANATEE -- In his book, "Jimmy Buffett, The Key West Years," author Tom Corcoran writes about how Buffett of Margaritaville fame arrived in Key West in November 1971 and walked into the Chart Room Bar at the Pier House Motel where Corcoran was tending bar.
Buffett, said Corcoran, had been brought to Key West by his friend, singer and songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker of "Mr. Bojangles" fame. Buffett asked for a beer and Corcoran replied: "The first one is on the house. Welcome to the islands."
That's why Buffett instantly loved the islands, an important tale for any fan to have in the trivia toolbox, and one repeated from the author's own lips Sunday at Linger Lodge Restaurant.
"Jimmy asked for a Heineken," Lakeland-based author Corcoran said. "I think he later came over to my house for spaghetti."
Corcoran, who co-wrote the Buffett hit, "Fins," joined a throng of tropic rock personalities and performers, all of whom hold Buffett is some degree of reverence, during the "Hangin' in the Hammock" Tropical Rock music festival on a fittingly beach-like sunny day at the restaurant on the Braden River.
Plenty of Buffett trivia was swapped at the 11 a.m.-to-dusk festival but also a generous helping of music in the Buffett tradition of original song writing that doesn't really fit a niche.
Performers included concert organizer John Frinzi and violinist Emily Randle, Charlie DeCosa, James "Sunny Jim" White, Jimmi Pappas, John Patti and Jim Morris.
Also on hand was deejay Steve Huntington of Sirius Radio Margaritaville and Corcoran, who had his Buffett book and several others on sale. He was also available for story swapping.
"This has been an awesome show," said trop rock fan Renee Marquiss, one of roughly 220 who set up in beach chairs for the music. Marquiss came with a friend, Andy Harker, who came from England as likely the farthest trekking fan.
"This music is laidback," Marquiss said from her front-row beach chair. "It's a great way to spend the day. It's all original music."
Buffett never fit the stereotype of a folk or country singer, but proved it doesn't matter what genre you play if people like what you are about, said Frinzi, who tours the nation with many of Sunday's performers, singing of beaches, bikinis and boats.
"Everyone here writes the songs they sing and we write about Florida and the Gulf Coast," said New Jersey-born Frinzi.
Huntington has played many of Sunday's Linger artists on his Radio Margaritaville show, which is No. 24 on the Sirius list.
"What we are hearing today is mostly folk and acoustic guitar and largely original," Huntington said.
During his set, Morris sang his song "Floating Opera," and fans such as June and Paul Reed of Northport were raising their hands to the lyrics. It wasn't exactly like Buffett's "Fins" where people wearing shark fins are moving left to right, but in the same vein.
Among Sunday's crowd was Bob Welch, president of the Blue Hen Parrothead Club founded in Delaware, with his wife, Diane Skipski.
"This music makes you feel good," Skipski said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.