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Arts Council celebrates 25th anniversary with Jimmy Buffett tribute band performance

Arts Council celebrates 25th anniversary with Jimmy Buffett tribute band performance

A1A founder Jeff Pike, center, holding guitar, leads his Jimmy Buffet tribute band in concert last year at the Olde Town Pavilion. The band will return to Conyers on June 7. (Special Photo)

A1A founder Jeff Pike, center, holding guitar, leads his Jimmy Buffet tribute band in concert last year at the Olde Town Pavilion. The band will return to Conyers on June 7. (Special Photo)

Although the esteemed A1A — known as “The Official and Original Jimmy Buffett Tribute Show” — will present an evening of rollicking, raucous fun at the Ole Town Pavilion on June 7, the band’s appearance also carries great import.

The concert is part of the yearlong celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts and also serves as a significant fundraiser for the organization, which like many nonprofits and arts agencies has faced numerous financial hurdles in recent years.

“This is a huge fundraiser, the biggest of the year,” CRCA executive director Jackie Sprague said. “It helps finance a lot of the other programs we offer. We have a very giving community and many people support what we do. But to be able to continue the important work we do for the community, we need fundraisers like this to be successful.”

In addition to A1A, which touts itself as the only tribute act endorsed by Buffett himself (whom bandleader Jeff Pike has performed with numerous times), the evening will include a silent auction featuring items like a football signed by Georgia Bulldog legend Buck Belue, a framed poster autographed by the cast of the TV series “The Originals” (which is filmed in Conyers and other east metro locales) and a LandShark surfboard.

There will also be a 50/50 raffle, and outside alcohol is prohibited but food and drink will be sold at the concert, which is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.

“The fundraiser really helps a lot with our children’s programming, our summer camps,” Sprague said. “We have Art Smart camp and Drama Camp. Hopefully we can offset some of the costs for those camps through this concert. We have to take care of supplies and the instructors’ salaries. We pay top dollar to get top dollar teachers. And just like every other arts organization, we’re struggling so these fundraisers mean a lot to us.”

Atlanta native Pike and his A1A ensemble, which he founded more than two decades ago, appeared at the Pavilion last May to great acclaim. Sprague said that she heard from many folks requesting to see the “trop rock” show again this year.

“A1A put on a stellar performance last year and we expect the same this year,” she said. “It was one of our best-attended shows, so they’re truly coming back by popular demand.”

A Woodward Academy graduate who studied voice and piano at Shorter and Clayton State, Pike began his musical career in the late 80s as an acoustic singer/songwriter and later connected with Scott Nickerson, who established the original Parrot Head Club. In just a few years, A1A saw its schedule filled with dates.

“At the time, nobody else in the country was doing what we did,” Pike told the Citizen in a 2013 interview. “And as a result, we got to know Jimmy and made everything legal. He likes the band because we do a good job of promoting him. We just grew with it — it’s been a hell of a day gig for the last 20 years. This isn’t what I set out to do with my life, but I guess I’ve just been lucky because it’s been fun.”

An A1A concert is a virtual jukebox of Buffett hits, although the serious Parrot Heads will also have a chance to hear more obscure tunes not normally heard at a Buffett show.

“Jimmy has to play the hits, even if he’s tired of them,” Pike, who has released several Buffett-inspired albums, said. “But he’s got a huge catalog of fantastic songs, tons of songs he never plays in concert. And when we first started, people who ask us to play Buffett songs I’d never heard of before. So we enjoy doing that.”

The CRCA’s celebration will continue into the summer with a fine art show on June 28 at the Corner Market and a concert on Aug. 9 at Center Street Arts featuring jazz saxophonist Dexter Tolson. A staging of the musical comedy “Nunsense” by the New Depot Players is set for July and the organization will host a formal event in September to commemorate its 25th anniversary and to honor the CRCA’s founder, the late Paula Vaughn.

For ticket information, call the CRCA at 770-922-3143 or visit www.conyersarts.org.

Chris Starrs is a freelance writer based in Athens. To contact him, email cstarrs90@charter.net.