The junk journal

Jimmy Buffett vs. Patterson Hood

Tuesday, Jan. 11 and Thursday, Jan. 13 at Cheeseburger in Paradise and Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company, respectively.

Hard to believe, but this reviewer doesn’t really fit in easily at Jimmy Buffett concerts — a fact brought home at the beach-bum hero’s recent private gig that doubled as a charitable fundraiser.

I was stopped on the way in by at least four different people (one of them a cop) who wanted to make sure I hadn’t lost my bearings en route to the nearby bowling alley.

Without a Hawaiian shirt or receding hairline, I was markedly out of place.

It seems heartless, though, to totally dismiss the cameo gig that unfolded at the recently opened franchise of Buffett’s unsurprisingly named Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant (not to be confused with his other chain eatery, Margaritaville). Indeed, the event sent nearly $100,000 to Eblen Charities, which supports underprivileged local families. But, as with salon dreadlocks or the appeal of playing in traffic, I’m at a total loss to understand Parrot Heads and their decidedly peculiar ways.

Don’t get me wrong. I dig Jimmy’s music. Hell, I had the guy’s greatest-hits tape memorized start-to-finish by the time I was 13. But I moved on. Most Parrot Heads, though, refuse to do likewise. Playing classics like “Fins,” “Boat Drinks” and “Volcano,” Buffett swooned the high-dollar (tickets were $250), middle-aged crowd with a short string of his Hawaiian-flavored ditties and other coral-reefer fare.

But for me, the most interesting detail of the night was that unholy revelation that accompanies so many celebrity sightings: namely, that Jimmy Buffett is surprisingly, well, un-tall (not quite Danny DeVito, but not too far off either). I was also amused to realize that Parrot Heads have choreographed a number of silly dances that they gladly perform in sync to the man’s many hits.

Let’s just agree that Buffett still plays “Cheeseburger in Paradise” with gusto (especially when he’s promoting his new restaurant).

On to Thursday: The Parrot Heads may stone me with coconuts for this, but Patterson Hood is to Jimmy Buffett as the original Darth Vader is to the pretty boy playing Anakin Skywalker in the often disappointing new Star Wars films: There’s just no contest. One is dark and unpredictable. The other is soft-edged, and comforting to see. One likes Tennessee whiskey and Pabst Blue Ribbon in the can; the other prefers boat drinks with little umbrellas. One writes about murder and mayhem — the other, burgers and babes. And while there’s certainly a time and place for fruity cocktails and synchronized dancing, it’s never ever when Drive-By Trucker Patterson Hood takes the stage.

Hood’s recent gig at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company — despite some muddy mediocre sound — marked an inspiring, unique engagement at almost any price. The man embodies a tainted, beautiful vision of Southern resilience when he sings and plays his Les Paul — writing songs in his sleep that should have more staying power than “Volcano” or “Fins” ever deserved. But that’s not how it works, and while the faithful 100 or so gathered for Hood’s gig with drummer Brad “EZB” Morgan didn’t send six figures to charity, they certainly caught the more balls-out thinking-man’s show of the week.

Hood sandwiched a pair of sets around a screening of Ray McKinnon’s Oscar-winning short film The Accountant, the inspiration for the gutsy Hood/Truckers tune “Sink Hole.” Even Xpress‘ movie mogul Ken Hanke momentarily lapsed into good-ol’-boy rhetoric on this one, calling The Accountant “one hell of a good short.” Damn skippy, Ken. And the same goes for Patterson and EZB (though Morgan was the only short man on the Pizza Co. stage).

The special engagement offered a rare multimedia treat. Hood, ripping through stripped-down versions of classic Truckers fare like “Wallace,” “Buttholeville,” “Let There Be Rock,” or the newer “Tornadoes” and “The Sands of Iwo Jima,” proved there’s no room for a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Patterson’s own twisted paradise — though Buffett’s favorite “cold draft beer” is always welcome.

Score: On the local-booze scale, Patterson Hood scores his old buddy Doug Riley’s craft brews from the Pizza Company: tasty, highly underrated and joyfully dangerous in large quantities.

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