Doug Gray is putting an offer out there for the vice-presidential candidates who will be in town Thursday: You’re invited to sing onstage with the Marshall Tucker Band.
“Hopefully (the candidates) will come over and at least walk through (the debate festival area),” said Gray, founding member of Marshall Tucker Band and lead vocals/tambourine. “We’d like to let them sing a little with us — if they think they’re strong enough.”
Gray laughs but then is quick to point out the importance of Thursday’s activity.
“It’s a serious thing, being part of the debate,” he said. “I’m not trying to make light of it. ... I will be there supporting both parties to sing with us.”
Gray has been with the Marshall Tucker Band for 40-plus years, since it formed in the early 1970s in Spartanburg, S.C.
The band is known for a string of chart-topping hits, including “Take the Highway,” “Heard It In a Love Song” and “Can’t You See.” Gray says the band’s sound is tough to describe.
“I tell you what — everybody’s tried to do that for over 40 years,” he explained, laughing. “Are we Southern rock, country or were we rock’n’roll?”
Maybe a mix of all?
“We play good-time, memory-making music,” Gray said. “It’s what people come back for — the special memories we give them, whether they’re meeting a girlfriend for the first time or seeing a wife for the 30th time.”
The Marshall Tucker Band released its Greatest Hits not so long ago — on vinyl.
“You know what? About two years ago, there was only about 300 places in the world where you could buy vinyl records,” Gray said. “Now, there are 3,500. Audiophiles collect stuff that is pristine that can be played on turntables. People like the warm sound of vinyl.”
CDs eventually became the way albums were released but fans still brought their vinyl to be signed by the band. So the band decided to give its fans an “extra-special present” with the greatest hits release: vinyl, with a digital download included with it.
Gray said the concert will have old songs and new songs, “and people will love it.”
“After the debate is when we’ll be playing. ... (The debate) is the opening act. (Festival-goers) should be prepared for the main act,” he explained, laughing again.
“It’s just, y’know, it’s historic. And if you’ve never seen the Marshall Tucker Band (perform), it’s history in the making.”