Link to "Hey Good Lookin"
Texas Stadium ~ 2004
Concert Review

This night was right up there with the Houston concert (DVD one) for me.  It was better even, but different.  Whereas the Houston show was a professional type performance on a very special night this one was a "relaxed and have a good time with my Buddys" type show.   George's voice was superb;  strong, perfect, smooth and rich, every single note.  George  was so happy, and so relaxed, he was the way I have always enjoyed seeing him -  just being himself;  loose, teasing, mischievious, and happy.

This experience was awesome, and a wonderful wonderful time.  I am so glad we were able to go.  What follows is my review of that night, written in the early morning hours after the concert.

Dallas, Texas Stadium Concerts, May 29, 2004

At 3:10 p.m. we arrived at our seats in Texas Stadium, the first ones in our area to settle into our seats - which were awesome – thank you Smarty Jones for winning the Derby!  The security guards eyed us until we had been checked out and had our two wristbands secured.  During the night we found them to be helpful, friendly, and one even shared some official "Dallas Cowboys" water with us – some of Troy Aikman’s.  We were really dry.. especially after George came out and created his share of the heat.  Throughout the afternoon and evening I watched the Security Dept. do their job, and I have to say that I was very impressed with them, they did a good job.  Texas Stadium used their own stage, which was long, and their own security fence, which was supported with steel rods.  I eyed the fence, noticed I was being watched, and said to them… "Sooo you knew we were coming.."  The head of Security (I guess he was anyway) said  "Ahh hah!! You’re the one we’ve been told about, you’re the trouble maker."  I made big innocent eyes and replied.. "Well, not really… see this lil ol lady sitting here…. she uses me for her cover."   We got along good with them. I saw them tell several people with cameras and zoom lens that they could not use them – no zoom lens, no professional-type camera.  I didn’t have a camera, at this point in my life I much prefer to watch the Man with my own eyes, to never miss a glance or a smile, and my memory keeps those moments vivid and alive.

Good thing we were shaded from the sun in our seats, we were able to await the coming concerts without being burned to a crisp in the hot Texas sunshine.  It was real hot, and being from Michigan and Minnesota I don’t tolerate heat well – still (even though I have lived in San Antonio over five years now).  Especially the humidity, oh uggghh.  But as I sat there and looked around in Cowboy territory I knew it was about to get a lot hotter, and it didn’t have anything to do with the sun or the weather.  It had to do with an awesome Cowboy Singer that the Lord saw fit to bless and name George Strait.   {On the eighth day the Lord looked at all he had created and saw a need for the future.. "I shall create the genes for a special person to be born May 18th of the year 1952... a man who will know his destiny, and by using his voice, eyes, style, and inner self will invoke women’s hearts to flutter, make them drool… make their toes curl.. "   Well, you get the idea.}  I swear Mr. Strait was put on earth to keep our engines revved up and running.

Alan’s band came out and tuned up, I noticed that one member was missing from the last time I had seen them.  By the time 5:00 (somewhere) came the seats had begun to fill but there were still a lot of open seats where we were, and I wondered at that.  Then Alan came out looking like himself in familiar-looking torn jeans, white hat, and big smile.  I enjoyed him immensely, as I always do, and he is genuine much like our Mr. Strait is.   No big put-on, he is who he is.   He feels his music and when those shoulders of his start moving to the rhythm I just love it.  I was engrossed in watching the streams of perspiration roll down his face, and I felt so sorry for him, when suddenly my ears caught the first few familiar notes to "Designated Drinker."   My brain was working too slow, I didn’t think about it, it was those first few notes from the band, and the anticipation in my heart that made that scream come out of my mouth and put my hands together to applaud.  I asked myself a second later as my face turned red from embarrassment "Oh my God.. That is it, isn’t it?"  Then I answered myself.. "Yess, dang it, I know it – it’s their song!"  Alan looked down at me and grinned and started the song.   I was a bit embarrassed but was popping up and down watching the entrance on our side as Alan sung the first part of the song, and finally Alan drawled loudly into the microphone.   "Uuhhh, I think someone wants somebody to come out here."

I was laughing at Alan, and shrugged my shoulders, like "What am I supposed to do!"   We stood up and those around us stood up, and from the left stage entrance meandered George, strolling, in no hurry, a big grin on his tanned face.  He pointed at the Gray T-shirt he was wearing where it read boldly "Dallas Cowboys."  He was real proud of himself.  He had a cordless microphone in his right hand.  The volume control was hooked onto the back of his belt, and his T-shirt was riding behind it… sigh*  What a sight.  He wore his white Panama Resistol with that cool hat band, and loose-fit comfortable looking jeans, Wrangler of course.  As he walked towards Alan he stopped to acknowledge the audience and did a little bow, and happened to be right in front of us.  He looked, looked again, and grinned.   I pointed at him and gave a thumbs up, and said to myself, to my Buddy, and to whomever was beside me at that time "This is going to be one hell of night!"  And "Oh my Gawd, he has never looked sooo good."   He was extremely relaxed, comfortable with everything around him, and very happy.  There was that look in his eyes that I have seen before and learned that it leads to good times; unrehearsed songs,  spur of the moment conversation, laughter, and teasing.  I knew in my heart that this was going to be a night to remember.

George stood there watching Alan sing, keeping time with his foot and leg, his hips moving slightly with the music, then started singing his part.  He held the microphone in one hand holding it slightly down from his lips, and with his other hand he caressed the air with those long fingers.  He reminds me so much of Sinatra, especially when he sings without a guitar strapped on.  His voice was awesome, steady, so strong and rich, and right on – every single note. He was singing from the depths of his diaphragm, pulling those notes up, and he was just getting warmed up for the night.  My lord he sounded so good, and it was wonderful to see them together doing this song.  It ended.. all too fast, and George went over and shook hands with Alan, then waved G’bye to his audience, smiling the whole time.   His face was so strikingly handsome I wanted to cry.    He leaves you with a smile, but ohhhh lord have mercy, he makes you ache.  I watched him saunter out in those Wranglers, that slight strut filtering down from his head where it truly lives, and noted again that he is indeed the King of many things.

Alan started his next song and I turned all my attention to him until the end of his show.   My thoughts however were still with that Man whose sum and substance permeated the stage long after he had physically gone.  He always leaves me wanting more, he was awesome.. just awesome.  I sat back in my seat, and calmed my heart, hoping to cool off a little, dang that lil' Fireman anyway, and wished for the night to slow down so I could absorb it all, and remember every moment.

Ace in the Hole tuned up and took the stage a few moments before 7 p.m.  When George strolled on stage it was exactly 7 p.m. The songlist has already been posted in a review – thank goodness – there is no way I would have remembered the order of songs or which ones were sung.

All I can say is the Man was awesome. His vocals were very strong, and right on.   He was enjoying himself and more loose and relaxed on stage then I have seen him in a while… maybe ever.  He got a big kick out of Alan and Jimmy joining him on stage for a few songs.  George and Alan did a super job on "Murder on Music Row."  George looked over at us and was just a grinning.  My luck has been with me; turned out that I had gotten dang good seats.  Here we were, two Strait fans wearing our Strait T’s in a sea of "parrot heads" who sported grass skirts, straw hats, bikini’s, and some had brought in hand made palm trees and flamingos, and parrots.  A lot of them knew each other.  I looked around me and laughed… it was crazy!

I didn’t see any Strait fans that I knew.. the closest were about 6 rows behind us and to our right as we faced the stage (I found out later that one of those fans took some of the pictures shown on the Dallas photos page, bless her heart!  I can't remember her name.)   There were some cowboy hats I could see way on the other side of the section.  But you know what, those Buffett fans were friendly, and they never got rude or vulgar - not like some of the Festival partiers. They were having a great time, standing up and dancing along with the music when Jimmy was on stage – and applauding Alan and George.  They had a good time the whole show, and I think George and Alan made some new fans.  They did an awesome job on "Murder" and I love that song, and it was a real pleasure to see the two of them doing it again.  Jimmy came on stage with George to do "All my Exes Live in Texas" and kind of changed "Ex’s" a little bit, but it was fun.   George was lookin’ sideways at him with a grin on his face most of the time.   Jimmy’s fans got a kick out of it too. 

Troy Aikman was escorted to the front row, center seat for Alan.. He had friends and family filling up the first two rows. They took turns off and on all night. They left for drinks backstage after Alan was done, then they came back when George was on with his first song.   They left after George had done his show.  The security guards catered to Aikman every now and then bringing him a cold beer. The owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones,  sat in front of me for a while.  Every now and then he would watch our reactions.   I was up and enjoying George, ignoring all of them, and saw him out of the corner of my eye watching, tapping his foot, and then talking to some important acting lady.  I thought to myself.. "Dadgummit… watch THE MAN. I don’t care who you are – when George is on stage you ought to be watching him."   I  stood and gave the man his applause, I didn’t care who the heck was around me.  The Parrot heads we had been talking to were fired up and stood up a few times with us.

When George did "Blue Clear Sky" ohhh mannn.. did he belt it out, and that guitar was just a movin’ and a rockin’ as he held his arms to his sides and that leg kept time to the music.  "She’ll Leave You With A Smile," "Run,"  "Cowboys Like Us," and "Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa," they were all perfect.  I was totally engrossed… God almighty… did he hit those low notes.. beautiful.. he outdid himself.

With a bow and a "Thank you very much" and that great smile George left the stage at 8:35 or so.  Jimmy Buffet  came on at 9 pm with his great Coral Reefer band.  Norma and George and Denise and Alan were at the side of the stage in front of us watching and enjoying it right along with the rest of us.   I was amazed at the dancers, they were real good, and it was so obvious they were all having a good time, which made it easy to give a good time to their audience.  

I was in awe when Mr. Strait came on and they sang "Sea of Heartbreak" together.  George was standing there with the mic in one hand and his other arm and hand at his side until he started singing.. then that hand seemed to have a life of it’s own, those long fingers were so graceful.  I was beside myself in amazement, awe, and respect, the atmosphere of this show and the way George was being himself.. it was more then I had ever imagined it could be.  He was so wonderful doing this song, I just can’t find the words.  He watched Jimmy so closely, and sung WITH him – not against him, not louder, not separately like some artists tend to do, - he sung with him - their voices melding together, like two waves rolling together and it was just perfect. What a beautiful song.. gotta have it.

Alan came out to join Jimmy for "Five O'Clock somewhere" - they are really good together.   Then George joined them.  When the three of them got together for "Hey Good Lookin" and "Margaritaville" it was electric.. but mostly it was just a lot of fun!  At the end Alan moseyed on over to one end of the long stage while George strolled over to the other end and waved at fans - all while Jimmy and the band played on.  They eyed each other every now and then, trying to decide when was the best time to go back towards Jimmy.  Meanwhile Jimmy was having a hard time getting through the song while laughing at the two of them.  I had to laugh along with Jimmy.. our heads were following George first one way and then the other way when they changed sides.  Reminded me of bobble head dolls.  I laughed at the cameramen, they didn’t know what the hell they were doing, it was hilarious watching them trying to keep up with them.

I’m sure my mouth was hanging open in-between smiles.. George was just sauntering so slow… so methodic.. strutting so dang sexy across that long stage.  I could not believe it… it was like holding a sirloin steak just out of reach.. dangling the carrot in front of the donkey… you know!   Lord it was.. wonderful.  It was torture, sweet torture.   He was lookin’ so good, and acting so dang cute, and being a tease.  His fans were going nuts, screaming, and everyone was standing.  After their song George started back then got this look on his face.. his arm went up and he grabbed that hat off his head and did a quick hard swing with that roping arm of his and that Resistol went flying gracefully over the audience.  I saw arms reach up as that Resistol soared over them, screams erupted, hands grabbed, then it flew right into someone’s outstretched hands.  It was beautiful George, what a swing!  What a show!

The three of them stood together then, George on the left facing us (no hat), Jimmy in the middle, and Alan on the right, and a half dozen or more photographers gathered in front of them to take pictures.  George and Alan retired to the side - off stage again.  I saw Norma hand him a drink and he saluted her with it before he took a sip.

Jimmy and his band did their finale. First they played those first notes from "Jaws" then as Jimmy and the band played on one of the guys pushed this huge helium filled balloon of "Jaws" the great white shark – life-size - out past the stage floor. It was connected to a line on a short fishing rod and reel.  The thing floated high up into the air right in to the center of Texas Stadium,  and the guy was moving it around.  The air caught it and it was kinda neat the way it was floating and moving around up there.  I couldn’t believe how fun loving Jimmy and his group are - along with his fans.  I really enjoyed them.   We were watching as the shark started down and towards us and was kind of jiggling.   I looked back at the stage at the guy with the fishing rod, and instead of the crewman there was George reeling in the shark with this huge smile on his face, pretending it was "the big one" and weighed a thousand pounds.   I pointed at him and we laughed as he handed the rod back to the guy and dived back into the backstage darkness.    Priceless.
When Jimmy had finished his final encore song I watched them leave the stage.   George retired to the backstage area where the food and drink was – walking away slowly – Norma at his side, Alan and Denise with them.  It was around 10:35. 

Traffic took hours to clear up. We finally left and got back to our hotel around 1 a.m.  I was exhausted but it was hours before I could stop smiling and laughing long enough to get sleepy and fall asleep.  I wrote down my memories of that night, as I always do.  He really did it this time; this was one heck of a party.  I was on cloud nine for weeks remembering everything about that night.

Watching George this way, being himself,  so relaxed and having so much fun with his friends and the fans, it was priceless.  I am so glad I came and I will never, ever forget this experience nor the happiness I felt while watching George -- it was a very special night, one of those memories to last a life time.

~ Linda Robbins
"Sea of Heartbreak" is available on Jimmy Buffett's album: "License to Chill."   A portion of Jimmy's Studio Diary for the album is below - kind of interesting.

"Designated Drinker" is available on Alan Jackson's album: "Drive."

"Murder on Music Row" is available on George Strait's album: "Latest, Greatest, Straitest Hits," and also - sung solo by George - on his live DVD & CD "For the Last Time, Live from the Astrodome."   (It's also on my webpage for:  Murder on Music Row )
This page was last edited with a new link to Hey Good Lookin' on: November 4, 2007
Link to music video: "Hey Good Lookin'!"

23 November 03
Key West

To: “Conky Tonk” musicians and singers
From: Jimmy (Your Friendly Camp Director)
Subject: Welcome to Recording Camp

Hello Recording Campers,

A Little History

Well before we all sit down and stuff ourselves over the next week, I wanted to get this note and these songs out to all of you who will be joining us for the recording of the Conky Tonk album in Key West in December. I know that it is a long way to come and the place is full of palm trees, rum drinks and good restaurants, and your shorts and a t-shirt are mandatory dress code, but I hope you will all be able to adjust to the harsh surroundings of our studio. But first a little word about this project as a whole. If you haven’t already guessed by the title, this album will have a solid barefooted base in what we have always done, but with a toe or two leaning in the direction of today’s country market. Let’s face it. This is not a big stretch for me. I started my recording career in Nashville in 1970 with Buzz Cason and have had several attempted failures at a country career since then while I continued to gather the present flock of Parrotheads (Thank God for them) while touring around the world. I will do the honorable thing now and blame Mac McAnally for this since he was the one who made me aware several years ago of the interest in my lifestyle by several up and coming country acts. I considered it an honor then as now, but I also started seriously listening to country stations and thought that once again, I might fire a shot across the bow of country radio. Well, thanks to Alan Jackson, we seemed to have missed the bow and dropped a 500lb gorilla on the play lists with Five O’clock Somewhere.

The Studio

Key West was always the natural choice for doing this project. I have spent enough time in studios in bad climates trying to make magic. Shrimpboat Sound was an attempt to put a unique but very functional studio into a place with atmosphere. You can’t get much more atmosphere than sitting on the porch at Shrimpboat and watching the world go by. Shrimpboat is housed in an old shrimp storage cooler where the boats would unload and deposit their catch (thus the name). It was put together by Ross Ritto who was my soundman on the road for over twenty years and now owns Sound Image, one of the top sound companies in the country. Over the years, we have recorded nearly a dozen albums at Shrimpboat and more recently the studio has been used by an eclectic group of artists from Billy Corgan to Toby Keith who like the sound that we have come up with.

The Band

The musicians on this project are a collection of my longtime friends and touring band, The Coral Reefer Band, and friends who I have worked with over the years. Circumstances presented a unique opportunity for this combination of folks when Pete Mayer, my great lead guitarist, booked a Christmas Tour without knowing I was going into the studio. So while Pete is out there with brother Jim filling Parrotheads with Christmas cheer, the timeline to get this album done and out won’t budge. So I simply invited some friends I had played with before to join us. Here is the band for Conky Tonk.

Mike Utley - Musical director, longtime friend and producer. He has been on every Record I have ever made.

Mac McAnally - his Nashville heroics speak for themselves. He will be co-producing along with Mr. Utley. He is usually a very nice guy, doesn’t drink, rarely curses but will steal a chocolate cake out of the backseat of your car in a minute. He also really doesn’t like costumes or band uniforms so I don’t think you will see him out at some of the more interesting late night establishments that thrive in the quiet fishing village of Key West.

Roger Guth - drums. Roger came aboard through the suggestion of Elliot Sheiner nearly fifteen years ago and is a great drummer-when he is not fishing. That might present a problem in Key West, but as long as we feed him, he will usually stick around.

Ralph MacDonald - Percussion. Ralph and I have been hanging out for twenty years. Besides being the legendary sound of percussion and a Grammy-winning writer and producer, he is a founding member of Club Trini along with Robert Greenidge, our virtuoso steel drum player, and is the voice of “wisdom from the back seat”.

Doyle Grisham - steel guitar. Doyle puts the “tonk” in Conky Tonk. I first played with Doyle back in 1972 when we recorded “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean” at Glaser Studios in Nashville. In the Parrothead world, Doyle is best known for his solos on Come Monday and Get Drunk. Doyle has been known to hang out at Club Trini as well.

Glenn Worf - bass. Glenn is one of our invited guests. He didn’t sound bad on “I Love This Bar”. We are happy to have him with us. I have been a big fan of his work and the fact that he is from Alabama too, and I look forward to playing with him.

Sonny Landreth - guitar. Sonny is one of my (and a hell of a lot of other people’s) favorite slide guitar players. I go to every Sonny Landreth show I am near. I am not much of an audience person, but I go see Sonny just to marvel at what he does with a guitar. I thought he would be perfect for Conky Tonk as we will be leaning a little to the swamp on this one.

Will Kimbrough – guitar. I met Will when he was a young innocent guitar player for Todd Snyder, when Todd was on our label and toured with us. I don’t know about the young and innocent thing anymore, but I know that he wrote an album full of songs that had me humming along and listening to this fellow Mobilian rock.

Bill Payne – keyboard - Little Feat - Duh!!!! Little Feat is my favorite rock n roll band hands down and I have enjoyed listening to and playing with all the boys in the band. Bill and I have been talking about getting together in the studio for twenty years. Well now we are doing it and I couldn’t be happier.

Tony Brown - Makes his quiet return to the keyboard and attempts to get me to buy him an expensive bottle of wine in a fancy Key West restaurant as a payback for my past bad behavior. It is great to have you aboard Tony.

The Singers

Well you all know who you are and I am just delighted and honored that you have decided to come down to play with us. I don’t know about y’all but before I ever came close to getting a record contract, I just wanted to be one of those cool background singers. It really didn’t look like a lot of work and you didn’t have to play an instrument or front a band. To me the background singer was it. So, the idea here is to first of all have fun. The tracks will be done by the time you get to town and the CD that is accompanying your camp letter should give you an idea of what the music is going to be. Keys are important and who is singing on what probably would be something to cover. As always, I love the magic and spontaneity of the recording process and know from my experience that we will probably come out of this with things we never anticipated going in. That is the fun of recording live and with friends. Your job for your time here is to have fun, work maybe an hour or two a day for three days. That should give you enough extra time to enjoy paradise however you see fit. Here is the basic song list with a general idea of who will sing on what.

The Songs

Hey Good Lookin’- (Hank Williams) We are going to do this with a Cajun/Zydeco feel. It is a lay down for a group sing chorus and then the idea would be for everybody to do a line in the verses and we will edit it together later. If D is not a good key for you, let Mac or Mike know and we will find one that works for everybody.

Piece of Work - (Will Kimbrough) Toby cannot be in Key West but will do this in Nashville.

Trip Around the Sun-(Al Anderson) Martina and Nanci
I have held onto this song for about two years and love what it says. Al and I go way back to the NRBQ days and he will add a guitar to this in Nashville later.

Boats to Build-(Guy Clark) Alan and Nanci- A boat song. You bet. We are going to put a little more Caribbean on this track than the original or do what we call “Buffettize” it.

Sea of Heartache- JB and George Strait - I have always loved this song. Don Gibson just passed away as I was doing the demo and I can think of no better tribute to his memory and impact on my songwriting than to do this. Again the arrangement is tropical.

Someone I Used to Love - (Bruce Cockburn). This has Nanci all over it. Bruce Cockburn rules in my book.

Coastal Confessions-(Jimmy Buffett) - JB and Coral Reefer Band/or male female guest BGS

Fools Paradise - (Mose Allison) JB and Nadirah

Conky Tonkin’ - (Jimmy Buffett and Bingo Gubelman) If we can’t have fun just singing on this one, we better get real jobs. Group sing with boys and girls. Each boy has a chorus, each girl has a verse.

Anything, Anytime, Anywhere - (Bruce Cockburn) This is Lafayette slow dance stuff. I kind of hear the boys doing the Jordanaires on this one.

Scarlet Begonias - (Jerry Garcia) This is a tagalong tune from the road and if we have time and feel like it, let’s give this a shot

Take the Weather With You - (Tim and Neil Finn) If
we have time. JB and Coral Reefer Band

How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away - (Dan Hicks) Dan Hicks never went away in my world. We will do this one justice. Backgrounds will be done in Nashville by the Reeferettes.

Coast of Carolina (Mac McAnally) - A new Mac song. I was thinking of Martina on this one as well.

Like Cats and Dogs (Hugh Prestwood) - JB and Clint. This is another one I have hummed and sang since Russ Titelman gave me my first Hugh Prestwood demo. Hell I wanted to sign Hugh. This sounds like girls on the chorus to me.

Back to the Island (Leon Russell) - This has been one of my favorite songs forever and I have this oddball notion that George and I could do Leon justice on this. We will give it a try.

Window on the World (John Hiatt) - You don’t see too many JB albums without John Hiatt on them. John was the guitar player on my demos in the Buzz Cason days. I like to brag about that. I was thinking of this with Kenny and Nanci.

Well, don’t freak out. I know that’s a lot of songs, but hell it’s just a starting point. I wanted to get this note and these tunes to you all so that you can listen to them and digest them along with your Thanksgiving dinner. Pre-production has always been the key to making good and economical records. I think it is a shame and totally unnecessary to waste time and money by trying to “come up” with stuff in the studio from scratch. So, campers, give this stuff a listen and come prepared. All that does is gives us more time to play once work is done. Thanks again to all of you for participating in this project and I look forward to seeing you all in Key West next week.

Take Care,


And here's what actually ended up on the album...

- Hey, Good Lookin'
- Boats to Build
- License to Chill
- Coast of Carolina
- Piece of Work
- Anything, Anytime, Anywhere
- Trip Around the Sun
- Simply Complicated
- Coastal Confessions
- Sea of Heartbreak
- Conky Tonkin'
- Playin' the Loser Again
- Window on the World
- Someone I Used to Love
- Scarlet Begonias
- Back to the Island

George Strait, Jimmy Buffett, Alan Jackson