Marshall Tucker Band to play Watseka Theatre for 4th time

Marshall Tucker Band to play Watseka Theatre for 4th time

"The biggest show we have ever had, time after time after time, is the Marshall Tucker Band concert," said Chuck Gomez, Watseka Theatre owner. "They took last year off, so its been awhile for their return. And I am happy to say, 'back by popular demand.'"

The band formed in 1972 in Spartanburg, S.C., and included Tommy Caldwell, Toy Caldwell, George McCorkle, Jerry Eubanks and Doug Gray. Four of the members, including Gray, served in the military during the Vietnam War and later formed the band The Toy Factory before changing the name to Marshall Tucker Band. Gray and Eubanks are the only surviving members of the band, and Gray is the only active member of MTB.

Gray, the lead vocalist, said he doesn't know what he'd do if he wasn't still involved with the band.

"As long as I can sing, I'll be out there," he said.

Other current members include the drummer B.B. Borden, a former member of both Mother's Finest and The Outlaws; Marcus Henderson of Macon, Ga., who plays flute, saxophone and keyboards in addition to lead and background vocals; and Pat Elwood on bass, and Rick Willis, on lead guitar and vocals, both of Spartanburg S.C., who are disciples of the Caldwell Brothers. All have been with the band for 20 years.

Gray talked to the Daily Journal this past week for a Q and A.

What keeps you coming back to Watseka?

We like to play the place to begin with. It's one of the easiest places to play. The crew pulls right in with the bus, the crowd is there, the promoter is great. The fans, they love the show, and we love to play there. It's always kind of interesting to me to watch the people. I've got the memory where I don't remember the names, but I recognize faces. It's like another family to me.

What's your home base now?

It's still Spartanburg. I live in Myrtle Beach [S.C.]. My kids are in Spartanburg, and the band leaves from there and the truck stops there. It's kind of an amazing place, and it's been that way for 22 years at that same warehouse, where we can park the buses inside. It's a meeting spot.

You have a tight-knit band, and what makes it work?

If we can make people smile and make them happy, and make them forget about having to get up to go to work, we did our jobs, and that makes the music special.

What's your favorite song to sing?

Well, for me, it's "Searching For a Rainbow." And "Fire on the Mountain" and "Heard it in a Love Song," everybody likes those and the ballads. I listen and ask every time. ... If the guys remember it, we give it a shot. People appreciate the fact that we try and give it a shot.

How have you been able to carry on the MTB, and did you think you would still be doing this at age 69?

It's pretty amazing. We started this in high school, some of us in junior high school. We went away to war, came back and got real jobs, while rehearsing at night and got the ultimate break. ... Honestly, no, we didn't think about how long are you gonna live. You don't think about that stuff.

This band has been together for 45 years; the new band has been together 20 years. They call us a new band. I laugh. We've got such a young audience, the younger kids age 18 to 52. I think that it doesn't get any better than that. I'm excited to go to anyplace to see how people are going to react.

-Chris Breach

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