HIGH SPRINGS ‒ Tuck Tucker was a musical artist of passion and talent. He toured for over 10 years playing dobro, electric and acoustic guitar with various bands such as Harmony Grits, Dancing Horse, Red & Murphy, and the nationally known Marshall Tucker Band. While he played a variety of stringed instruments, he was known as a dobro player extraordinaire. His talent graced the recordings and stages of many musicians, not only in Florida, but around the country. He played on over 150 recordings by various artists and released three albums of his own original music.
On March 4, musicians gathered at Rum 38 not only to remember Tucker, who had passed away in 2021, but to also raise money to help the widow he left behind.
James “Tuck” Tucker started his musical career in 1975, when he joined the national touring group Harmony Grits Band. Tucker was hired to replace the departing dobro player. At that time Harmony Grits was an all-acoustic Bluegrass band, but, in 1977 they crossed over to Outlaw country. That change doubled their touring dates and destinations to six days a week. In 1980 a record company approach them about a record deal, but after touring for three years straight with no down time for resting, the rigorous schedule took its toll on the band and they disbanded in January 1980.
Tucker immediately started looking for another band, and when a band he was acquainted with came to perform in his hometown, he grabbed his dobro and went to their show. He asked if he could sit in, and by the end of the evening he had been invited back for the next night. By the end of the second night, the band asked him to join them in Dahlonega, Ga. Tucker went on to perform, travel, and record with this group, Red & Murphy & Co. for the next five years.
It wasn’t long after he married his love, Edwoina, that Red and Murphy moved to Winchester, Va., and Tucker decided to stay in Florida. It was a hard decision for him, but he chose to put his musical career on the back burner to work a traditional day job to support his wife and child in McIntosh, Florida.
For the next 22 years he worked hard to keep his music alive. He played with many different groups such as Endless Highway, The Adobe Brothers, The Driftwoods, and Dale Crider to name a few. He also played on multiple CD projects with local Gainesville bands, as well as recording with the nationally known The Marshall Tucker Band.
Tucker continued to work a day job to support the family during these years, but after his son, Cory, left home Tucker returned to playing music full time, which included a year long stint in Nashville. Tucker found he couldn’t afford to live there and he returned to Florida where he continued to play, becoming a local legend.
On Dec. 23, 2021, Tucker passed away and the music stopped. Still, his musical talent was not forgotten by many musicians he had worked with.
A year later, John and Raven Smith, who had worked with Tucker in Harmony Grits, and were now the main players in Quartermoon, sought to create an annual musical event to honor Tucker and help raise money for his widow, Edwoina. Tucker had performed at Rum 138 several times, and owners Doug and Merrilee Jipson offered their venue for a concert, and the call went out to local musicians to play at the event. Eight groups offered to play for free to help, and the March 4, 2023 the event was held under cloudy skies to an audience that also included many of Tucker's fans.
Mike Boulware, another local music legend, opened the show followed by Barbara and Mike Johnson, Smiley Tunehead, Hannah Harber Winn and In The Moment band, with Quartermoon finishing the night in tribute to their friend and former bandmate. By the end of the night, over $1,000 had been raised for Tucker's family.
“We were really pleased with all the support from the musicians, Rum 138 and the audience that came to honor him,” said John Smith. “It was a day of great music, which we hope to make an annual event, bringing back some of the well-known musicians he worked with nationally and grow it to be a musical celebration.”
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