GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Legendary musician Jimmy Buffett treated more than 1,000 military personnel and civilians at Guantanamo Bay to an unusually intimate performance Dec. 7.
Buffett explained that the free concert was a "return of a favor" for his appreciation to service members defending the United States and its ideals.
As is typically the case with any Jimmy Buffett concert, "Parrot Heads" went all out with tropical decorations and tailgating. Pirate hats, Hawaiian shirts and plastic parrots were aplenty in the crowd. Full coolers and smoking grills were also common sights throughout the parking lot.
Those who arrived early enough were given the chance to meet Buffett. After performing a sound check, Buffett took the time to hit the parking lot to socialize with concertgoers. Fans even had time to get autographs, snap a picture and share a meal with him.
The formula for the concert was simple. Buffet played acoustic guitar with band member Ralph MacDonald on percussion. Fans old and young sang along with traditional favorites such as "Come Monday," "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" and "Boat Drinks."
During "Cheeseburger in Paradise," Buffett asked for female volunteers to fill in for his absent backup singers known as "The Coral Reefer-ets". The volunteers who took the stage and nearly stole the show for the song, assumed the name "The GTMO Reefer-ets."
When the music was over, a small and informal ceremony was held onstage to thank Buffett for the performance. Among the gifts presented to Buffett were a large conch shell from Naval Base Commander Capt. Robert A. Buehn, and a framed American flag from Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller on behalf of Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay. That flag had flown over the gate separating the U.S. base from communist Cuba.
After the ceremony, Buffett took more time to meet fans, sign autographs and have pictures taken.
Despite his celebrity status, Buffett demonstrated that he is a performer who truly gives back to the people.
"I love my fans. Everybody here is just doing their job. I don't mind paying back," he said. "I'm about to hit my 56th year on the planet, and never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd still be doing this. I just feel very lucky that people still appreciate what I do."
For related news, visit the Naval Media Center Broadcasting Affiliate Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/gtmo.