Charliepalooza, Marshall Tucker Band, and an unexpectedly intimate snapshot of emotion

[image-1]When the MTB set began, I took up a position directly in front of the stage and started shooting. It was a typical MTB show, with Doug sharing lead vocals with other members of the band and talking to the audience between songs. Nothing new, but Doug did seem to be a bit distracted and less than his usual smiling self. It wasn’t until reviewing my images on Monday morning that I noticed this frame, stuck in the middle of about a dozen other images I managed to squeeze off in a 3-second span. It’s a good picture of a moment in time, a brief second during the show where Doug is standing back, holding a tambourine and looking up to the sky. It shows a wealth of emotion on his face, almost as if he is holding back his emotions or tears. It’s a strange sight to find among pictures from a concert but one that now makes sense.

On June 15th of this year, Renee Gray (Doug’s wife) died unexpectedly. According to our mutual friend, and others close to the band, Doug has taken Renee’s death especially hard. Although playing music seems to offer some sort of therapy, the band has still been forced to cancel some shows. This situation was further complicated by the fact that Doug and Renee met at this very concert event many years ago. Coming back here must have been extremely difficult for Doug and it’s no wonder that he looks close to tears in this picture.

Note to Doug: In the event that you read this article, please accept the condolences and thoughts I was unable to convey during the concert. During my life, I have lost many people close to me and I can identify with what you must be feeling. I’m sure that I can speak for everyone at the show, who might have noticed this personal moment, and would like to thank you for sharing it with us. I hope that getting through this show will somehow help your healing process.

Nearly every time I come home from shooting a concert, my wife asks if I got any good pictures. My standard response is that I won’t know until I have a chance to look at them. Like many people, she doesn’t always understand how I can go to a concert, take 300 or 400 pictures and not know what I have. The truth is, during the standard three-song photography limit, I spend most of the time dodging other people, figuring out what the lights will do next, keeping track of everyone on stage, checking my exposure, and looking for great angles. With all of these elements in play, 10 minutes can fly by in a flash (no pun intended) and I really don’t know what I have until I download the pics to my computer. With this said, I do manage to catch a great shot once in a while.

During Charliepalooza — the Charlie Daniels / Angelus Charity Weekend event at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino this past Saturday, Dcember 5 — I took more than 2,500 images. Several hundred were of Marshall Tucker Band's set, which happened around 2:30 in the afternoon. Even though the rain had let up by then, the wind and clouds made the day dull and gloomy. As lead singer Doug Gray arrived for the show, I ran into him backstage and offered a polite “hello.” Although I interviewed Doug for an article several years ago, and we share a mutual friend, he didn’t seem to remember me and moved on to greet the throng of fans that gathered around him.

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