The Marshall Tucker Band excited to return to the Belly Up

The Marshall Tucker Band will perform at the Belly Up July 26 and July 27.
The Marshall Tucker Band will perform at the Belly Up July 26 and July 27.

(Courtesy of The Marshall Tucker Band)

After over a year of near silence, live music returns to San Diego this summer and one of the first bands to welcome an enthusiastic audience back are the veteran rockers who make up The Marshall Tucker Band.

“I’ll tell you what, we’re just very excited,” says Doug Gray, the longtime frontman for the act. “I think we’re going to have some of our best shows. It’ll be overwhelming.”

Gray and his cohorts are headed to Solana Beach’s Belly Up for two back-to-back gigs on Monday July 26 and Tuesday July 27. The booking of the band was strategic as the act is a favorite of the venue. “Every time we come back to the Belly Up, it gets larger and larger,” Gray explains. “It’s where we’ll say, ‘Hey, how have you been? How have your kids been? Everyone good?’ It always feels like coming to visit family when we play there. It always has and it always will.”

Monsters in the genre of southern rock, the band is on the cusp of celebrating their 50th anniversary next year. During that time, they’ve made an indelible impact which has included a range of memorable hits, “Can’t You See,” “Heard It In a Love Song,” and “Fire on the Mountain” among them. Even their trademark logo has a high perch in culture, with Rolling Stone and GRAMMY Magazine singling it out as one of the most iconic in popular music.

“Young kids always come up to us singing one of our songs,” says Gray, the band’s founding father. “They’re finding our music everywhere and, after 50 years, you’re honored people still want to hear your music. All of the young people are buying our vinyls; it’s not just collectors.”

In the band’s rich history, the coronavirus pandemic stood out as one of their toughest periods with Gray noting that dating back to the ’70s it had been a rarity for him to be off the road for an extended period of time. “I’ve been performing for 50-something years and during the pandemic, I wasn’t sitting around idle but my knees were shaking anyway. What I realized I was missing was the ability to communicate with people.”

Leading up to the Belly Up gig, the band has performed a handful of shows, whether in Macon, Georgia or Missoula, Montana. Throughout their initial gigs, Gray has noticed a change in the mood of their audiences. “It’s been like the ’60s again, quite honestly,” he muses. “People never had hostility towards another person during that period of time. It was peace and love. That was a wonderful period of time, and getting back on the road feels like that again.”

When it comes to the band’s longevity, especially when many of their contemporaries 50 years ago have been long absent from the road, Gray cites a deep passion for performance. “We’re not afraid to go in front of 200 people or 150,000 people, it really doesn’t matter,” he says. “There is nothing like seeing people out there, playing your heart out and looking at my bandmates and just smiling at each other. When we played our very first show back, I got off the bus and almost cried telling them how happy I was to see them again.”

It’s that attitude they’ll bring to the Belly Up. “People are going to have an opportunity to get together and that’s the most important thing in life.”

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