Saturday was a magical night spent with special friends, fine food, good drink, and a long-time friend working his mastery on stage creating the sound of beautiful music. I have known Bruce Marshall for twenty years and have heard him and his bands on countless nights in four states. From Newport, RI, to a New Year’s Eve show in a barn in Maine, Bruce and his crew never sounded as good as they did last night on the shores of Salisbury Beach. The Bruce Marshall Group, Montgomery and Marshall, Bruce Marshall Solo, or, as we enjoyed last night, Bruce Marshall and the Shadow Riders; I never heard the band that tight and the music so sweet. In his many iterations, Bruce Marshall is a New England treasure, and I have been lucky enough to experience the Bruce Marshall experience for the last twenty years.
I wrote in my last article about the lack of competence in society, but that is not the case with Bruce. He has devoted his life to being a superb guitarist and songwriter, and he is fortunate to be surrounded by musicians that push each other to the limits. I am always amazed to see a new face on stage, yet never a beat is missed. That was the case tonight with a new sax and flute player. The solos on both instruments brought well deserved applause, and I hope that is not the last we have heard of this young musician.
Saturday’s show was a tribute to the Marshall Tucker Band and very personal to Bruce, the impact of Toy Caldwell on Bruce’s music and career. I listen to Marshall Tucker sometimes, and I think that Toy smiles down on Bruce as he and the Shadow Riders make the music sound better than ever. Toy was either a very good teacher, or Bruce is an amazing prodigy; or maybe a little of both.
It was a long time ago when I first heard the sounds of Kalispell coming up the stairs at the Grog in Newburyport. I was drawn down those stairs, and I have since been a fan of Bruce and his music. I have gotten to know Bruce along this musical journey, and he is as genuine as the sounds his fingers create as they ride effortlessly up and down the neck of his guitar. We are not as young as the first night we met, but the music never gets old, and I hope I will always have another Bruce Marshall musical event to look forward to. The bands of today come and go, and the old timers from our younger days try to hang on, but we are lucky in New England to have Bruce Marshall to enjoy, whether he is sitting alone on a stool or surrounded by one of his musical gangs, you know the music will make you smile, and you will hope there is no last call.
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