The Buffettman and the Fruitcakes, a Jimmy Buffett tribute band, will perform a benefit concert at Riverfront Steak and Seafood, formerly known as Haywood's on the Water, 610 Antler's Lane, on Friday. The show will begin at 7 p.m.
Tom Watt, Jimmy Buffett impersonator, has been performing Buffett's music for 15 years. Although he is from the Pittsburgh area, Watt is no stranger to Williamsport, having performed here many times over the years.
The benefit's organizer, Ron Paulhamus, coordinated this event to help Michelle Fryer, who lost her husband Lloyd to a sudden illness. Paulhamus saw Watt perform at the Community Arts Center and knew that he would be a perfect fit for the benefit.
The Buffettman and the Fruitcakes, a Jimmy Buffett tribute band, will perform a benefit concert at Riverfront Steak and Seafood, formerly known as Haywood’s on the Water, 610 Antler’s Lane, Friday. The show will begin at 7 p.m
"Lloyd liked Jimmy Buffett's music," Paulhamus said. "We are basically reaching out, trying to have a nice time in memory of Lloyd."
Watt said he remembered Paulhamus from his performance because of the rare songs he was requested. "There was a family sitting to my right who kept asking for the more obscure Buffett, it was Ron and his family. I was impressed with their knowledge and appreciation, so we bent in their direction," Watt said. "It turns out, Ron came up with this benefit for a friend of his, and he called me. We saw there was a need and we stepped up to fill it."
Watt, who has been performing and impersonating Jimmy Buffett for 15 years, got his start one fateful day on a cruise ship. "My wife and I were on this cruise aboard the Celebrity Century. We sailed out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. I met their brand new house band, and they were playing in the main dance lounge," Watt said. "I was so taken by this band, I had to meet them. We became friends that night."
Watt ended up seeing the band the next day, and they asked him to sing with them. "I was in my bathing suit, baseball cap and aviators, I looked like Jimmy Buffett. When they invited me up to sing, I suggested, 'Margaritaville.' Jimmy has always been easy for me to impersonate."
After his performance with the band, Watt received a standing ovation, and people were asking for autographs, having a hard time convincing people that he actually was not Buffett. Not long after, Watt began to book weekly gigs at bars in the Pittsburgh area. "It took off quickly," he said.
Although he owned a carpet cleaning company, he decided to take his impersonating venture full time, leaving his sons to take care of the business. After it became too much for them, Watt sold the family business, and his sons now play with him. With the decline in the economy, Watt has seen a little of slowing down for his performances, but that doesn't stop him from still booking corporate events, shows and parties.
Watt and his band also perform a free concert every year at Jimmy Buffett's concert, which he has been doing for 15 years, starting in 1998. Buffett's camera crew came out one year and recorded them and used the footage for the intermission at the concert. From those performances, Watt has had a lot of connections.
"After that first performance, the phone just started ringing off the wall. It was at that point in time that I began to realize there's no one else that looks and sounds like Jimmy. People told me that. I think that's why the excitement level was there right off the bat," he said.
Watt also had the opportunity to be Jimmy Buffett's photo double in the movie "Hoot," directed by Wil Schriner. It was there he met Buffett.
"When I finally met Jimmy, he asked, 'Have we ever met before?' I reminded him of the time in '98 when his guys filmed somebody in the parking lot. He said. 'I remember that! You're that guy!' That led to another line of convo, but it was even to Jimmy, a very memorable occasion," Watt said.
For the benefit for Lloyd Fryer, Watt's son, Zac will be on lead guitar and Adam Warble on steel guitar will accompany him.
As far as songs that will be performed, Watt guarantees all of Buffett's hits, as well as other covers from different artists. "They can expect us to do mostly mainline Jimmy Buffett tunes. And some covers of other songs that happen to be our favorites. We think, 'What would Jimmy Buffett do?'
For more information on the The Buffettman and the Fruitcakes, visit www.tomwatt.com.