Marshall Tucker Band to Rock Martinsville Speedway July 4th

An old favorite and a local favorite will headline Celebration 2011 at Martinsville Speedway on July 4.

The Marshall Tucker Band, the venerable Southern Rock band that has seven gold and three platinum albums to its credit, will headline Celebration 2011. Mountain Heart, fronted by Henry County native Josh Schilling, will open the family-friendly free event.

“When we found out the Marshall Tucker Band and Mountain Heart were both available, we knew we had a home run,” said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell. “The Marshall Tucker Band is legendary. All of us have sung along with them at some point.

“And if anyone heard Mountain Heart sing the National Anthem here last year before one of our races, you know what an amazing sound they have. They are going to make a lot of new fans here on July 4th.”

In addition to the concert, there will be about 15 children’s carnival rides and the evening will culminate with the largest fireworks’ display in the area.

And as always, the entire event is free to the public.

According to Jeb Bassett, who is in his third year of leading fund-raising efforts for Celebration, about 50 percent of the needed funding for the event has been secured. Sponsors are still needed, Bassett said, and any donations will be accepted.

The children’s rides will open at 5 p.m. and remain open until 11:30 p.m. Mountain Heart will take the stage at 7 p.m. followed by the Marshall Tucker Band at 8:30 p.m. The fireworks are scheduled for after the Marshall Tucker Band’s performance.

The Marshall Tucker Band is ageless. It has been turning out foot-tapping country rock for almost 40 years. And like a fine wine, the group keeps getting better. They continue to play almost 200 concerts a year behind hits like “Heard It In  A Love Song,” “Fire On The Mountain,” “Can’t You See,” and “Take The Highway.”

“They called us a Southern rock band, but we have always played everything from country to blues and all things in between,” said Doug Gray, a founding member of the Marshall Tucker Band. “We’re still playing all of the classic songs, but we are moving ahead into other styles as well. We’re also playing for a younger audience than we have in the past, perhaps the kids of the fans we played in front of in the 70s and 80s.”

With Schilling leading the way, Mountain Heart has steadily gained popularity the past few years with its inventive mix of bluegrass, rock, blues, funk and jazz. The group has opened from some of the biggest acts in Nashville, plays regularly at the Grand Ole Opry and just completed its seventh album.