HUNLOCK CREEK — “Margaritaville” is coming to Hunlock Creek.
How it got there, well, here’s a clue.
Jimmy Buffett & The Coral Reefer Band will be featured in “Live At The Drive-In” — a live performance at the Coyote Drive-In, Panther Island, Fort Worth, Texas — on June 19. It will be simulcast to drive-ins throughout the country.
It marks the first time a performance will be simultaneously broadcast to drive-ins. There are currently more than 90 participating drive-ins from coast to coast with more added every day, and the Garden Drive-In along Route 11 is one of the participating sites. Cost for a ticket is $18.
Doug and Kim Barbacci own the Garden Drive-In and they are thrilled to be part of this historic event.
“We jumped at it,” Doug said when the offer came via email. “This is something new for our industry and we think it’s going to be a big hit.”
Barbacci said a simulcast is possible now with the advent of the digital system used in most theaters. He said the Buffett concert is being linked through DIRECTV. And if successful, Barbacci thinks more live concerts featuring other performers will be offered.
Neither Doug nor Kim are “Parrotheads” — the nickname for Buffett fans. In fact, they will be out of town and will miss the simulcast.
Doug said a few hundred tickets have been sold. He said the concert will be shown on “the big screen” at the Garden and the venue could accommodate up to 2,000 people. The Garden also has a second, smaller screen for movies.
Kim said tickets may be purchased in advance by going to the website Margaritaville.com/LiveAtTheDrive-In. Kim said tickets are also on sale at the Garden Drive-In’s box office or at gardendrivein.com. The Garden is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, she said.
Doug said most drive-in theaters are “mom-and-pop” operations. Kim’s parents purchased the Garden in 1987, but it opened in 1951.
Kim said additional speakers have been placed around the grounds to add to the quality of the audio for the concert. Gates open at 5 p.m. on concert day, and Buffett is expected to start singing at 9:45 p.m.
“We’re going to offer volleyball to keep people busy before the concert starts,” she said. “And I’m sure there will be a lot of tailgating.”
Brittany Pearce of Fresh and Clean Media issued the news release about the concert.
“The drive-in community is rallying behind this concert –just as it has with the digital conversion efforts of recent years– emerging stronger and more unified,” Pearce said. “The drive-ins, fans and communities are proving once again that these nostalgic venues can hold their own in the 21st century.”
Simulcasting a live concert has opened up a new source of revenue for drive-in theaters, a business that recently went through the expense of upgrading to digital systems.
Brandt Wood, who owns the Coyote Drive-In in Fort Worth, said his theater opened a year ago and he wanted to find new ways to gain business.
“We were looking for events outside of the movie industry and we looked at music,” Wood said. “A group of us went to a Jimmy Buffett concert and we got to meet him. We told him we were building a new drive-in theater in Fort Worth and he said he wanted to play there.”
Wood said the idea struck him and he asked Buffett how he would feel about simulcasting the concert to drive-in theaters across the country, and Buffett liked the idea.
“We hope this is just the first of many to be offered,” Wood said.
Wood said there are around 200 drive-in theaters still operating in the United States and most have converted to digital.
“Not everybody signed up for this,” he said, “but if we’re successful, we expect more will get on board for future concerts.”