Original Lead Singer Doug Gray & Company Take Concert Goers On Southern Rock Journey
BY: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
While they had only a few radio hits during the 1970's, the Marshall Tucker Band have been and always will be a southern rock jam band. On Thursday (March 28) night before a sell out crowd at the Charleston Music Hall, long time fans enjoyed more than two hours of a blend or country, blues, and guitar laden rock n' roll. And judging by the thunderous applause after each number, concert goers got exactly what they paid for.
His voice may not be as fluid as it was 20 or 30 years ago, but founding member Doug Gray still carries that pure same soulful grit and growl, with a hint of comic relief. At 70 years young, Gray the only original member in Marshall Tucker knows how to work his loyal followers, and most of all he knows how to host an evening full of fun.
Backed by six veteran musicians, some who have been with the band for decades, Gray and company travelled back and forth from the 1970's and 80's, with Gray sharing short and often touching back stories, alongside the occasional laugh out loud one liner. Not stretching his voice, Gray allows his fellow band members to share in singing and provides them ample time to shine with their respective instruments. After all it is a 'jam session'. Macon, Georgia native Marcus Henderson is no doubt one of he most skilled musicians in the band, well adept to flute, saxophone, and keyboards, all instruments key to Marshall Tucker's success.
With just a lone aged stagecoach as a back drop, Marshall Tucker let their familiar songs and album cuts take center stage. If you came for a trip down memory lane and a night of pure musicianship, then you were in the right place at the right time. They did offer two familiar tracks early, with 'Fire On The Mountain' and 'Take The Highway' getting fans revved up.
Gray got emotional at times talking about original members Toy and Tommy Caldwell. The southern rock icons have been gone for 26 and 39 years respectively, but were two of the key songwriters in Marshall Tucker Band. Near the midway point after a somber tribute to Toy, Gray thanked him for one of his favorite songs, leading the audience into 'Midnight Promises'. 'This Ol' Cowboy' appeared to further excite the crowd.
As they were nearing the finish line the band sent up 'Can't You See' and 'Heard It In A Love Song' with Gray invoking the crowd to sing the popular choruses from both classic rock radio staples. The seven member unit on stage were joined by the opening duo of Crawford and Power, further cementing the jam band free for all. Jake Crawford and Ethan Power set the tone earlier in the evening with their mix of old school country and Americana songs.
Spartanburg SC native Doug Gray sees no reason to slow down, as long as fans continue to ride the southern rock train he is conducting. His voice may not hit the same notes it once did, but with six fellow battle tested musicians and singers filling in, it seems perfectly fine for Gray to beat the tambourine and engage the audience between numbers. Most concert goers I talked with on the way out enjoyed the two hour jam session and a trip to yesteryear.