Howard Livingston & Mile Marker 24

Blame It on the Margaritas

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Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Howard Livingston sails the same waters as his better-known predecessor, Jimmy Buffett, proclaiming the virtues of living on the Gulf Coast, drinking margaritas, and watching the world go by, all set to country-tinged island music that relies heavily on marimba and steel drum. If anything, Livingston, a resident of Summerland Key, 24 miles north of Key West (hence the name of his backup band, Mile Marker 24), is more vociferous about the necessity of abandoning the rat race than Buffett, who is mostly content to celebrate the lazy lifestyle. "Blame It on the Margaritas" is the tale of a woman who drops out in just this manner, and the two next songs on Livingston's third CD, "Local on the Eights" (a slogan borrowed from The Weather Channel) and "Know Your Limitations," reinforce the same world-view. Livingston varies the music and the message somewhat, touching on romance and delving into Western swing, rocksteady, country, and gospel. But he never gets far from his central premise, which makes him a bit more single-minded, and certainly more serious, than Buffett, who injects a degree of wacky humor into his songs that Livingston eschews. Still, this music is very close to Buffett's. But there is no doubt room for more than one margarita singer on the Gulf Coast, especially because Livingston, unlike Buffett, is likely to be playing in a bar in the Keys on any given night.

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