The Marshall Tucker Band’s Southern Rockin’ Round-Up, Round One

Marshall Tucker Band
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Chris Hicks and Doug Gray of the Marshall Tucker Band perform at Sony Hall on August 23, 2019 in New York City.
“Rednecks work their ass off, out in the fields,” says Doug Gray, the sole original member and dusty road voice who created the yearning Southern rock tilt of The Marshall Tucker Band. “When you’re raised like that, you really dig into a project. For me, the original band was only together for eight years. Forty-eight years later, we’re still out taking this music to the people – and they still want it.”
Want it is an understatement. With 1973’s soulful “Can’t You See” being a game-changer on both “The Voice” and “American Idol” – performed by “Idol” winner Laine Hardy, plus “Voice” victors Craig Wayne Boyd and C.J. Harris – and a regular name-check on major country hits by Florida Georgia Line (“Cruise”), Lee Brice (“Parking Lot Party”) and Jason Aldean (his current “We Back”), demand for MTB’s footloose ramble has in some ways never been higher. Announcing their 2020 “Southern Rockin’ Round-Up,” which kicks off Jan. 10 at Lake Of The Torches Resort Casino in Lac du Flambeau, Wis., Gray & Co. will play 100+ shows on their own and in conjunction with longtime compatriots The Charlie Daniels Band.
APA’s Co-Head of Worldwide Music Head Steve Lassiter, who came of age working at Nashville’s legendary Sound 70 Productions, remembers first seeing Marshall Tucker Band at Municipal Auditorium at 15. Blown away by the jazz/gospel/country fusion MTB steeped their Southern rock in at countless Volunteer Jams, he was thrilled and honored to step in as their RA three years ago when longtime associate Ron Rainey left and Red Light Management’s heavy hitting Charlie Brusco took over.

Both men recognized the power of “Heard It In A Love Song,” “Fire On The Mountain,” “Searching for a Rainbow,” “This Ole Cowboy” and, yes, “Can’t You See.” The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s President Greg Harris, who was in high school during Tucker’s heyday, agrees. He says of the band’s enduring appeal: “Their songs were a Southern breeze that warmed our souls through FM radio and constant touring, providing an organic antidote to the increasingly polyester-laden synthetic world. 
“They echoed our embrace of square-toed boots, long hair and flannel shirts. Their Southern sound had a natural vibe that became a bridge to the hyper authentic sounds of roots music and punk rock! It wasn’t the same, but of the same ethos.”
Brusco, who got his start managing the Outlaws, acknowledges the potency of Phil Walden’s Macon. “There was a real admiration and respect among the bands, and a high level of camaraderie between Skynyrd and the Allmans, Wet Willie, the Outlaws, Marshall Tucker. People feel and respond to it. But for the Southern rock tag, ironically, their following was really the Northeast and the Midwest; Pittsburgh, Philadelphia,. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut – and this country/soulful R&B thing that Tucker and the Allmans had just connected. 
“Never really rebellious, their songs have been played on a lot of different kinds of radio stations, so a lot of people heard them. With the flute and the horn things, they had this jazz sense, the way they played was more a musical journey with a lot of textures – and it made every night a living breathing thing instead of just delivering hits’.”
Beyond playing their own shows, Brusco and Lassiter sought to create great packages to build the band’s live base. Their “Southern Uprising Tour” in 2017 and 2018 teamed MTB, Daniels, Travis Tritt and the Outlaws, while last year the band played 20 dates on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Street Survivors tour, as well as teaming with Daniels, Tritt and Cadillac 3. Just as empowering, MTB not only played Stagecoach for the first time, they dominated the grueling final day, final slot at CMA Music Fest’s Forever Country Stage near Nashville’s Ascend Amphitheater.
Lassiter recalls, “People had been going hard all day and night for four days, and I was concerned. When I got there, the CMA officials were all shaking their heads, because you couldn’t put another person in that park. I’ve never seen a show in that space like it – and that was the biggest crowd of the week for that stage.”
“Doug has hired musicians who understand what Marshall Tucker’s vision really was: to play music,” Brusco offers. “All the songs are the same, and they don’t need new music because of all the airplay they get – and the fact that this band was built on expanding the songs every single night. Whether they’re new fans – I’d say almost 50% are young people who never saw the original band – or fans from 40, 45 years ago, they come away satisfied because Doug has been careful to find players who can play authentically, and create their own space within the songs. That’s what always set this band apart.
“You see them in theaters, in clubs, at festivals and fairs, and it’s always the songs, Doug’s voice, the playing. It’s not one thing, it’s everything – and Doug’s almost made it interactive, asking the crowd to join in and sing. They’re part of Marshall Tucker, too.”
“Doug does a great job giving each player their moment,” Lassiter agrees. “He’s never been onstage, swigging out of a bottle of whiskey, he’s more a Southern gentleman with a great knack for bringing people into the music. It’s why they’re on track to have their biggest year ever next year with two different tours – and promoters competing for the actual (calendar) dates.”

“I’ve never thought about retiring,” Gray concedes. “If I was home instead of a hotel room in Iowa, I’d be passing a lot of gold and platinum records on the walls, wondering why I wasn’t out there doing what I was put here to do.

“We never had a goal. There was no post, we just kept kicking the ball, seeing how far it would go. We didn’t think about 40 years later, but it’s here and seeing these kids on ‘Idol,’ Blackberry Smoke, Charlie Starr, my nephew in the Zac Brown Band who’ve grown up playing this kind of music, I think it’s gonna be around for a long time more.”
The Southern Rockin’ Roundup 2020 Live Concert Dates:
January 10 – Lac Du Flambeau, WI – Lake of the Torches Casino
January 17 & 18 – Walhalla, SC – Walhalla Performing Arts Center
January 24 – Pembroke Pines, FL – Pembroke Pines City Center
January 25 – Weirsdale, FL – Orange Blossom Opry
January 26 – Immokalee, FL – Seminole Casino
January 31 – Raleigh, NC – The Ritz
February 1 – Myrtle Beach, SC – The Carolina Opry Theatre
February 21 & 22 – Harris, MI – Island Resort Casino
March 14 – Baton Rouge, LA – L’Auberge Casino & Hotel
April 3 – Kansas City, MO – Ameristar Casino 
April 17 – Derry, NH – Tupelo Music Hall
April 19 – Plymouth, MO – Plymouth Memorial Hall 
April 25 – Riverside, IA – Riverside Casino 
May 1 – Washington DC – The Warner Theatre (w/ The Charlie Daniels Band)
May 7 – Waterbury, CT – The Palace Theater  (w/ The Charlie Daniels Band)
May 8 – Morristown, NJ – Mayo Performing Arts Center  (w/ The Charlie Daniels Band)
May 9 – Westbury, NY – The Theatre at Westbury (w/ The Charlie Daniels Band)
May 14 – Jackson, TN – Carl Perkins Civic Center (w/ The Charlie Daniels Band)
July 11 – Montauk, NY – Montauk Music Festival
July 23 – Yerington, NV – Night in the Country Festival
August 24 – Ocean City, NJ – Ocean City Music Pier
October 17 – Steelville, MO – Wildwood Springs Lodge