‘I found my place’: Chicago embraced Jimmy Buffett long before ‘Margaritaville’

Years before “Margaritaville” established Jimmy Buffett as a bard of the tropical beaches, the singer-songwriter was a folk club regular in a city lapped by the waves of chilly Lake Michigan.

His visits to Chicago in the early 1970s usually took him to Quiet Knight, a Belmont Avenue fixture of the folk scene then thriving in the city. Buffett found Chicagoans receptive to his mix of acoustic guitar ditties and lighthearted storytelling.

“There were just so many good people (in Chicago) doing solo acoustic guitar shows,” Buffett told the Sun-Times’ Dave Hoekstra in 2011. “The Holstein brothers, Bonnie Koloc, Mike Smith. And those singer-songwriters also had to be comedians and emcees. I had to do that in my early New Orleans days. So meeting all those people in Chicago was a renaissance for me. They were great storytellers, bulls**** artists on stage and performers. I gravitated toward that. I found my place.”

• This report was produced in partnership with the Chicago Sun-Times. For more, visit


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