For Marshall Tucker Band vocalist Doug Gray, music is a way to connect the dots between people.
"What music really is about is testifying to what you feel," he said. "Music makes us smaller as it brings connections from person to person."
The Marshall Tucker Band will perform at 8:15 p.m. Friday at the Thunder Concert Bowl (in Sunset Park, near the tennis courts). Jason Clutter & the Dirty South Band will open the show at 7.
Gray, Tucker's original lead singer, was pleasantly surprised by how well their latest CD, "Love Songs," released in February, has been received.
"People don't really think of love songs as a big macho type of music," he said. "They think of it more as women's music."
However, one of Marshall Tucker's biggest hits was "Heard It In a Love Song." "Can't You See" and "Fire On the Mountain" are among their other 1970s staples.
"If you listen to the words of all of those songs, they're about leaving," Gray said.
"The Essential Marshall Tucker Band," a sampling of hits and other songs from their Capricorn years, plus a few that never have been heard before, is scheduled to be released in September.
Gray enjoys telling the story of how the name "Marshall Tucker Band" came about. When they were an up-and-coming band in their native Spartanburg, S.C., they rented a warehouse and the name "Marshal Tucker" was on the key.
"I later found out that he was a piano tuner," Gray said. "I found out that he was blind from birth and had rented the warehouse before us. We decided to add an extra 'l' to make it a real 'Marshall.'"
He later found out that Tucker's wife also was blind.
"I've learned that true beauty comes from within," Gray said.
Earlier this week, Gray was in Spartanburg to send his daughter and two adopted sons off to high school. Growing up, Gray's taste was diverse, ranging from Dionne Warwick to B.B. King.
"In 1976, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., I got to get onstage with B.B. King and his band and sing 'The Thrill is Gone.' That was one of the most wonderful things in my life," Gray said.
Although Marshall Tucker has been around well over three decades, they still generate new fans all the time.
"Just last week, I had a little girl that was about 4 years old come up onstage from the audience who knew the words to 'Can't You See,'" Gray said.
He said Marshall Tucker's music, considered "Southern rock," transcends genres.
"I still think people don't realize that we do blues, we do rock 'n' roll, we do country," Gray said. "Music is music and if it's good and touches people, that's all that matters."
Thank you Doug for given us your music and your special God given talent for over 37 years! You my friend are a great messenger!
We love you,
Mark and Sharon
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