CULTURE- FRIDAYS UPDATE Come Friday: Buffett band takes the clam shell


Key West Band

The mere notion of a Jimmy Buffett tribute band seems so overwhelmingly jovial that one has to wonder how it could possibly survive as an artistic enterprise. The Key West Band, however, has managed to make it work; their third original CD was released back in February, and their songs have landed on Sirius Radio's Buffett-centric Radio Margaritaville program.

"This whole tropical thing is something I'd wanted to do for years," says Chris Gregory, describing a sabbatical he once spent bumming around the Virgin Islands on a sailboat.

That passion paid off– about a year and a half ago, the Key West Band landed the services Buffett's pedal steel guitar player, a seasoned vet by the name of Doyle Grisham who has graced recordings by many of country music's biggest stars during the last few decades.

"We all have plenty of tales from the road, but his are better than ours," laughs Gregory. "Of course, Jimmy Buffett gets first shot at him, but when he's not with Buffett, he'll usually work with us."

And while that may lend a twist of authenticity unusual in the tribute band world, the band still has to face one crucial shortcoming: they're Bahamian by way of dreary ol' central Virginia– Gregory was born and raised in landlocked Roanoke. He says that just increases the demand, though.

"A lot of people in the Virginias and Carolinas have a real longing for tropical life," he says, "so we kind of bring that to them."

So there you have it: checking out Fridays After Five might mean that by next week you'll no longer be dying to run off to the Keys. If you are, it's your own damn fault.

The Key West Band performs around 5:30 at Fridays After Five June 7, at the Pavilion in front of City Hall on the Downtown Mall.