Concert preview: Marshall Tucker Band hitting the Downs on Friday

Concert preview: Marshall Tucker Band hitting the Downs on Friday




BATAVIA — This Friday, the Rockin’ the Downs Concert Series continues with a headlining performance from southern rock pioneers The Marshall Tucker Band. The group has a long and storied history dating back to the early 1970s.

Founding member Doug Gray has been with the group since its inception and shortly after he returned from military service in the Vietnam War. In recent years, the group has performed for troops stationed in Iraq, and Gray has witnessed the changing attitudes towards military personnel, especially Vietnam veterans.

“I think people are starting to come around, especially for the older guys,” Gray said during a recent phone interview. “They wear hats with when and where they served on it, and as the guys are passing away, we are starting to appreciate all they did to protect the nation. It has turned our nation into a better place.”

The Marshall Tucker Band’s early years were spent on the road with The Allman Brothers Band, who ended their long run shortly before Gregg Allman passed away in May. Gray reflected on the passing of Allman by saying, “There is nothing but great memories of Gregg. He used to tell me after our set he couldn’t believe he had to follow us. That was always funny to me, because they always had a great show.

“We had a mutual respect for each other, and we had no idea we would be doing this for four decades. I feel bad for his family and his fans.”

In recent years, The Marshall Tucker Band has been cited as an influence on a whole generation of country music performers.

“I am very grateful when bands younger than us are saying we influenced them, or when a 12 year-old kid plays ‘Can’t You See’ onstage with us,” Gray said. “We have had people tell us their kid can play and we have had them perform with us. One young person went on to work with Michael Jackson and is still doing well.

“We are a band that gives back. We like to do things that other people won’t do. It’s all ended up 100 percent now.”
Fans of the band will know that while Marshall Tucker is a real person, he is not in the band. Gray appreciates the fact that it’s a band name and not one individual’s name, even if people don’t always realize that.

“I’ve been called Marshall a million times; the real Marshall’s name was on the key to a warehouse we used to use,” Gray said. “We didn’t know who it was the first couple years. We were just using the space.”

As the band’s popularity grew there was more interest in the man whose name was on the key and they eventually met their namesake.

“CBS came and sent a crew in and we were interviewed with his wife, and he made sure the microphones were off and he leaned over and whispered in my ear to thank me for not messing up his name. He’s still doing good. He is 93 or 94 years old and retired and very happy. We have sent him Gold records over the years."

While you may not see the real Marshall Tucker, the genuine Marshall Tucker Band will be performing this Friday in Batavia. Tickets start at just $10 and are available at Batavia Downs.

“It has come around to where we are getting played on country radio, and we are just a bunch of rednecks from South Carolina but we aren’t a country band,” Gray said. “We get played on classic rock radio and country radio. We don’t care what we are, we are just out to have a good time and we are happy people know we made some meaningful songs.”

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