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Younger fans latch onto Marshall Tucker Band’s ‘real life’ songs, too

The Marshall Tucker Bfeatures PElwood (from left) B.B. Borden Chris Hicks Doug Gray Marcus HendersRick Willis. | HANDOUT PHOTO

The Marshall Tucker Band features Pat Elwood (from left), B.B. Borden, Chris Hicks, Doug Gray, Marcus Henderson and Rick Willis. | HANDOUT PHOTO

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The Marshall Tucker Band, with Lucky 3 Blues Band, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16, Mayne Stage, 1328 Morse. $78. (773) 381-4551;

Marshall Tucker Band’s longtime lead singer Doug Gray doesn’t waste too much time these days reminiscing about the past. Yet, some of the changes he has witnessed since the band from Spartanburg, S.C.,burst onto the radio dial with songs like “Heard It in a Love Song,” “Fire On The Mountain” and “Can’t You See,” are hard not to acknowledge.

Heck, back in the day there weren’t downloads or cell phones ­— or cookies.

“The fans used to bring Jack Daniels and Crown Royal, but now they bring cookies,” Gray says with a hearty laugh. “It wouldn’t be so funny if it wasn’t the truth. I eat the cookie and chase it down with beer now. But I love seeing the fans. No matter where we are, it’s like going home.”

While MTB’s popularity has had its fair share of ebbs and flows through the years, the love they still get from their audiences is impressive. Seldom playing fewer than 100 shows a year, the band — made up of Gray, Chris Hicks, Rick Willis, B.B. Borden and Marcus Henderson — is still rocking and inspiring some of today’s biggest acts.

“We have shared the stage with acts like Kid Rock and the Zac Brown Band, and no matter how popular they are, they are still the kinds of guys that will stand on the side of our stage trying to figure out what it’s going to take for them to be around for 43 years,” says Gray. “People always ask how we have done it, and I really think it’s that we wrote the songs that made people think. Those weren’t country or rock songs we were singing — they were real life songs. And because of those songs, we get welcomed with more honor and respect now than ever before.”

With the release of their “Greatest Hits” album and their latest “Live! From Spartanburg, South Carolina” album, MTB continues to fill a void in the music industry, thanks to an ever younger and increasing fan base.

“The people downloading our songs are anywhere from 17 to 39 years old,” says Gray, now the grandfather of two. “I can’t figure out what has changed or if we just finally got it right? Nah, I think it’s been right all along. People are looking for a stable of music that can take them back to their youth. I mean, these are the kids who were forced to sit in the backseat of their parent’s car and listen to MTB.”

Even though some might wonder why MTB doesn’t just rest on its laurels, Gray casually mentions that the band is working on new music.

“Our writing hasn’t change much at all,” he says. “We would be foolish to fool with the recipe of our writing. But with the new stuff, I think we will start leaning a bit back to the older days, when people actually wrote about something that meant something.”

And while Gray admits that he has “retired three or four times in my mind” over the years, getting the chance to play in Chicago alongside his current MTB bandmates is more gratifying than ever before.

“There was a time when the music changed, and we were just not invited to play [in Chicago]anymore,” he says. “But getting the chance to go back to Chicago and play for a crowd in a venue such as the Mayne Stage just feels wonderful.”

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