ISU pep band meets Jimmy Buffett, attends his concert

March 19, 2019
Music legend Jimmy Buffett, center left, is pictured with ISU pep band director Tom Kloss, center right, and pep band members at the Big Sky Tournament in Boise on Tuesday. Buffett invited the band to his concert the next day.

Idaho State University’s women’s basketball team, sadly, lost its game during the Big Sky Tournament in Boise on Tuesday, but the school’s pep band gave a performance that impressed a music icon.

Tom Kloss, ISU’s pep band director and associate director of athletic bands, said the pep band played music, sang, danced and cheered throughout the game — and country-rock singer Jimmy Buffett took notice.

“The women played really well up to the end,” Kloss said, adding that they had a lot of fun cheering the team on and were all saddened by the loss.

But their feelings of disappointment soon turned to surprise when an older man approached them after the game to compliment them on their performance.

“A gentleman came up to me and said, “Hi, I’m Jimmy Buffett,” Kloss said, adding that he looked at the man and thought, “‘Oh my gosh, you are Jimmy Buffett.’”

He turned to his band members to point out the man that only some recognized until he said, “Guys, it’s Margaritaville.”

Buffett, the singer and songwriter known for hits including “Margaritaville” and “Come Monday,” told the band he liked what they were doing and he spent a few minutes shaking their hands and posing for pictures with them. He even picked up a band member’s trombone and played a few notes, Kloss said.

“It felt great. He didn’t have to come down. He didn’t have to do anything. The fact he reached out (and said he) liked what we did was really fantastic,” Kloss said.

But Buffett wasn’t finished yet.

He then invited Kloss and the 19 pep band members with him to attend his concert at the Taco Bell Arena in Boise on Wednesday night. The band was planning to play at the women’s basketball game that day, but found themselves suddenly free after the team’s loss. And the excited band members were OK with the change in plans.

Buffett’s manager was able to get some of the pep band members at the floor level of the sold-out concert, where people were standing and dancing, and others at stage level, Kloss said.

“It was really great,” he said, adding that they were placed in what would have been pretty expensive seating.

Buffett’s music is known for its combination of Western and Caribbean sounds. His devoted fans are known as “Parrotheads.”

Kloss said concertgoers showed up in their Hawaiian gear and tossed beach balls during the event.

“(Buffett’s) band played really well,” Kloss said. “Everything was great.”

Kloss said it was generous of Buffett and his manger to make it possible for the pep band to attend the concert.

“(Buffett) is known as being a really nice guy,” Kloss said, adding that showed through his unexpected invitation. “He lives life that way, and I think it’s great.”