Doug Gray knows his fans are "married and buried" to the music. But the Marshall Tucker Band singer is also well aware that three decades of touring have been the fuel that drives its country-fried rock and roll. The band's on the road again, this time promoting the upcoming Stompin' Room Only album, a collection of live tracks recorded in 1976.
The tour itinerary is dotted with county-fair shows and bluesfest gigs, and the band plays with Molly Hatchet at Six Flags' Poker Run & Bikefest on Sunday. (The 3 p.m. concert follows a 105-mile motorcycle rally.) "We feel we owe it to the fans who have supported us through the years to deliver the music in person," says Gray, the band's only remaining original member.
The Marshall Tucker Band's beginnings stretch back three decades to Spartanburg, South Carolina. In 1973, the sextet opened for the Allman Brothers; a year later, it was headlining shows of its own. The band's self-titled debut album -- which contains its most popular song, "Can't You See" -- went platinum.
The group has since inspired a generation of others -- Alabama, the Kentucky Headhunters, and Confederate Railroad among them -- to follow its recipe for success: Mix rock riffs with country twang, sprinkle in a dash of smooth jazz and gospel bravado, and blend well. "The buying public never really cared whether we were country or rock and roll," Gray says. "They called us a Southern rock band, but we have always played everything from country to blues and all things in between."
Twenty-three albums later, a new generation of fans is finding out what their parents knew all along: Boundaries can't be drawn on down-to-earth hillbilly-rock tunes. "As we've become older, our Southern heritage seems to come out even more," Gray says. "But no matter how old we get, we can still rock your socks off."