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Marshall Tucker Band Performance Leaves Large East Coast Florida Crowd Feeling Good

 

11-6-09

Marshall Tucker Band Performance Leaves Large East Coast Florida Crowd Feeling Good

By:  Steve Muzzy – Space Coast News Review

It was a balmy and breezy evening at Captain Hiram’s Riverfront Resort, Marina, and Bohemian-Style Sandbar located in Sebastian, Florida Thursday night.  The Florida Beach Resort and the estimated crowd of over 2,000 was buzzing with excitement and anticipation of the beloved Marshall Tucker Band soon to be performing on stage as part of their national recording act concert series.  The atmosphere, weather, and the people in attendance made the evening one of those special nights when you feel truly blessed to be living in Florida. 

While it has been 31 years since my high school graduation in nearby Melbourne, Florida, it was clear to me – as it was in high school – this is an area that truly loves and appreciates the music of the Marshall Tucker Band.  As the clock reached 9:00 PM – the outdoor venue was packed with the sandbar and restaurant doing more business than the excellent staff could keep up with.  Backstage, my brother John and I (“The Muzzy Boys”) caught up with Doug Gray – the 39 year front man and lead singer of the band.  It is always a privilege to catch up with Doug who truly is a southern rock legend. Doug took the time to introduce the band: Stuart Swunlund (guitar and vocals); B.B. Borden (drums), Rick Willis (guitar and vocals); Pat Elwood (Bass guitar and vocals); and Marcus James Henderson (keyboards, flute, saxophone, and vocals).

I have always admired Doug Gray for the genuine devotion and love he has for his fans – his extended family- and tonight did not change that opinion. One gets the impression that Doug Gray is not about the money but more about the people  and living life to its fullest each and every day.  He remains an artist who continues to create material with the same spirit he has had for 40 years.  

The first order of business upon seeing Gray was extending our sympathies for the recent passing and untimely death of his wife, Rene.  As Doug prepared to go on stage for yet another show in his 39 year career with the Marshall Tucker Band he was also the proud father and family man with several references to how his family is doing.  He also was quite reflective about the recent circumstances in his life and in this writer’s opinion was still very much in the grieving process in regards to all of the things he has been through over the last several weeks.  His therapy, to the delight of the MTB fans and extended family, would be the next two hours on stage sharing stories and playing great music on this beautiful November on the east coast of central Florida.

The show lasted nearly two hours and a good time was had by all.  The band kicked off with the surreal title track from the band’s “Running like the Wind” album.  Stuart Swunlund took the crowd back to 1973 with “Hillbilly Band” from the classic debut album.  An extended version of “Blue Ridge Mountain Skies” that featured Rick Willis on lead vocals followed.   Doug’s soulful and heartfelt vocals next led the band with the popular hit from 1977 “Heard it in a Love Song”.  Marcus James Henderson was featured on vocals for the iconic “Take the Highway” song from the band’s self-titled album. Next up was “Fire on the Mountain” from the Searchin’ for a Rainbow album, followed by one of my personal favorites - “Midnight Promises” from Toy Caldwell’s  lone solo album released  during his post-MTB days shortly before his untimely death all too long ago.  As a loyal MTB fan who first saw the band during the Carolina Dreams tour at 16 years old and who has followed the band for 35 years and well over 40 concerts, I could not help think of fallen band members George McCorkle, Toy Caldwell, and Tommy Caldwell.  Doug and MTB have long played  the largely unknown “Midnight Promises” and always includes “Fire on the Mountain” to their sets which I suspect are genuine tributes to his brothers of the road and former bandmates.  A humble, appreciative, hard-working, Vietnam veteran – Doug Gray continues to keep the southern spirit alive. 

The night concluded with a raucous “Can’t You See” with Doug inviting the hard working security personnel to come on stage and assist with the tambourine and chorus.  Finally, in a bit of a surprise, Doug announced he was not ready to go just yet and he meant it!  A 20 minute “24 hours at a time” performance ensued.  Particularly impressive and worth noting was the sax solo by Henderson and the drum solo by Borden.  Most pleasing however was hearing the smooth and soulful vocals of the legend in our midst – Doug Gray.  It was an outstanding show at one of the best venues imaginable to see the Marshall Tucker Band.

Before saying goodbye until our paths met again, Doug reminded my brother and me that “there’s more to gray hair than old bones” and expressed his genuine appreciation to all of the folks who managed to catch up with him for those moments after the show.  As my brother and I made our way to the car for the short ride home I could not help but think how lucky we were to have experienced such a great time and how appreciative I was for Doug Gray and his efforts in keeping the Marshall Tucker Band alive and kicking.

  • Posted on   11/10/09 at 02:31:13 AM   by Liza  | 
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