When lead vocalist and guitarist Mark Tucker was asked to describe Tumbledown Shack’s music, he pondered the question before replying with a wry play on words.
“When you Tumbledown with the Shack, you will hear a slice of many musical genres,” he said of the contemporary band that is causing quite a stir among its many fans in Jonesboro and across the Mid-South. “From Maroon 5 to Led Zeppelin, from the Black Keys to the Black Crowes, from Gavin DeGraw to Better than Ezra, from Marc Broussard to The Rolling Stones....We guarantee you will find something you like to listen to when you come to hear Tumbledown Shack.”
Tucker said the five-piece group, whose members are seasoned performers who have developed a very special empathy on the bandstand, “has put together a set list that elicits a get-up-off-your-seats response from the crowd....We want to interact with the audience in a fun, upbeat way.”
As one of the band’s more ardent fans put it, “These ‘Shack’ guys are masters at working a crowd and having a great time while they’re doing it. I dare any serious listener to remain seated when Tumbledown Shack is doing its thing, which is alternately exciting, down-home basic in its intensity. But more than anything else, it’s music tailor-made to make you move and dance with sheer abandon and joy.”
Members of the band are: Tucker, a pharmaceutical sales representative; bassist Mickey Ryan, a sports radio talk show host for 103.9 The Game; keyboard player Mike Smith, a pastor of a church in West Memphis; drummer and percussionist Carl Abraham, an infectious disease doctor; and lead guitarist and vocalist Jay Lee, an emergency room doctor at St. Bernards.
“I think we’ve all been playing since our early-20s or before, so that would mean that we have more than a 125 musical years of experience among us,” Tucker said.
From an experience perspective, bassist Ryan is a case-in-point. He has been working professionally since 1984 throughout this country and in Europe, sometimes in front of crowds as large as 25,000 people. He has played on the same bill with Hole, Black Oak, Arkansas, Webb Wilder, Terri Clark, Toby Mac and Delirious.
“I’ve written and recorded hundreds of songs, and my music has been featured on MTV, a movie soundtrack and a compilation tribute to the band The Cars,” said Ryan.
Tucker also brings a wealth of experience to the bandstand. He has opened for such groups such as Blues Traveler, Night Ranger, the Georgia Satellites, Jackyl, Warrant and April Wine.
Suffice it to say that Tumbledown Shack is a “happening” band that has paid its dues in the world of popular and contemporary music, and now that they have “found” each other, their experience is paying performance dividends in extremis.
“I love playing with such awesome musicians,” said Ryan. “But what makes it great is that they’re even better guys....The fact we all like different styles of music is a real strength for the band. Everybody brings something completely different to the table.”
The band has been working together since late last year; it performed at the Downtown Barbecue Festival and has rocked and moved capacity crowds at Brickhouse. The musicians also play for private parties and other gatherings.
One might think that the group derived its name from the abandoned tumbledown shacks that still dot the Mississippi Delta landscape. Not so, said Tucker.
“The name came from an article I read regarding the Azuza Street Movement in Los Angeles, California, in the early 1900s,” he said of the group that when seeking a place to worship, found an available building on Azuza Street in the ghetto.
“A newspaper referred to the downtown L.A. building as a tumble down shack,” explained Tucker.
History was made when the building, reconverted into a house of worship in the spring of 1906, began drawing a group of male and female revivalists from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds.
“The intermingling of races and the group’s encouragement of women in leadership roles was remarkable,” Tucker said. “And remember, this was in 1906 when Jim Crow segregation of the races was rampant and 14 years before women won the right to vote.
“Our band’s name doesn’t have anything to do with a religious movement, of course,” said Tucker. “Rather, we were drawn to the image of a building that seemed to defy time and gravity by somehow continuing to stand despite its ramshackle and bedraggled appearance.”
Today, five socially conscious musicians defy time and their respective ages by performing foot-stomping, eminently danceable music for enthusiastic fans of all ages.
For ticket prices and more information on the concerts, call the concert venues or go to ticketmaster.com.