There's an old saying that heroes never die, they fade away. Obviously the guy who came up with that never met Ted Nugent. A true American rock and roll hero, Nugent is still going as strong as ever after 40 years of rockin'; no fade in sight. To coin another overused cliché', like a fine wine, he just gets better with age. At almost 60 years old now, Nugent is out on tour again with a brand new album, Love Grenade, about to hit stores. Sea of Tranquility's Ken Sanford was on hand to see the Nuge in all his glory at the Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY on June the 28th and was lucky enough to ask the Motor City Madman a few questions before the show.
Read on for the full interview & concert review!
Ken Sanford: Ted, you've been at this for a long tome now, 40 plus years. You're creeping up on 60 years old; you're on tour again, new album on the way. How'd you feel about recording the album, and now touring again; and just how do you feel in general?
Nuge: I couldn't feel better. I have toured every year since 1967, performed every year since 1958. The music is a wonderfully positive force to reckon with & with the amazing virtuosos I am privileged to have in my band every jam is a dream. Clean & sober for 59 years is the key.
KS: Speaking of the new album, "Love Grenade", people are really excited for its release. Tell us about it.
Nuge: A joyful continuing saga in my R&B rock dreams. Tommy Clufetos on drums & Barry Sparks & Jack Blades on bass guitars truly inspired my new songs to a ferocious energy level. 13 killer FUN songs that are perfect for live concerts & increased horsepower in your pickup truck.
KS: People who don't know you, people who only know "of" you, they have this perception of this crazy, pro-war, animal killing, gun fanatic. People don't realize all the charitable work you do, and what kind of a positive influence you try and have on society, whether it be DARE, MADD, educating kids, feeding the hungry, showing your support and working with the U.S. troops, I could go on, but please tell us about some of what you're involved in recently and where people can go if they want to help out? *
Nuge: The Nugent family has increasingly dedicated ourselves to more and more charity work each year. It is an American thing to give and give and give and we are simply pleased to join the generous families of America to help children and law enforcement and military heroes who truly need help. We are involved with dozens of quality charitable, conservation and hands on environmental causes.
(*please check out www.tednugent.com for info on all things Ted Nugent)
KS: What's your opinion on the political and social climate in America today, and what are your hopes for the 2008 election and going forward?
Nuge: Many bureaucrats are soullessly disconnected, however, honest to God "we the people" activism is increasing as more and more Americans come to realize that participation in this glorious experiment in self government is our civic duty. It is far from ideal, but the prognosis is improving.
Ted Nugent is a busy man, so with that, on with the show…..
People were asking me before the show, who's this guy that's opening the show, Alex Winston? To which my only response was to shrug my shoulders, "I have no idea". Who is this guy? Well, I was in for quite a surprise when I was hanging out in the Chance before the doors opened and got to see Alex Winston's sound check. Alex wasn't a guy at all, but a small, every bit the female, brunette firecracker from just outside of Detroit. Even during sound check she was mesmerizing, so I was really looking forward to seeing her set. The sound check was just an appetizer as Alex Winston came out and really put her best foot forward. Brandishing a guitar and playing her brand of rock and roll influenced pop, or pop influenced rock and roll as she likes to say, she really got the packed house going. Alex and her band were extremely tight and sounded fantastic as they tore through a set comprised mostly of original songs that can be found on her EP "By the Roots". As a set closer the band cranked up a version of the Dokken classic "It's Not Love"; which Alex dedicated to long time Dokken drummer Mick Brown, who is Ted Nugent's touring drummer on this, the "Love Grenade" tour. Alex and her band did a great job of warming up the crowd at the Chance on this night; the crowd in turn really showed their appreciation. Alex Winston is a real up and comer in the good old American blues influenced rock and roll scene. She rocks hard, she's hot, and she's a real sweetheart; what more could you ask for?
You can find out more about her and how to get her CD here:
Ted Nugent is an icon of American rock and roll, with a resume' that's matched by few; and it was shaping up to be quite an evening at the Chance, getting to see a rock and roll legend perform in such an intimate setting. Not to mention that Ted Nugent doesn't get to the east coast all that often anymore. The place was jam packed to the rafters as everyone anxiously awaited Ted. What was nice to see were the families in the audience; there were many mothers and fathers present who obviously brought their kids to the show. The lights dim and excitement fills the air as bassist Greg Smith and drummer Mick Brown take their places on the stage; the crowd goes wild as Ted Nugent takes the stage. Sporting his famous Gibson Birdland and wearing his signature camo cowboy hat, camo pants to match, and cut off sleeveless denim shirt, the Nuge has that typical grin, that "here I am people, and I'm about to kick your ass" look. He wasn't kidding as he gave the look to Greg and Mick and they blew everyone away and opened the show with the Amboy Dukes classic "Journey to the Center of the Mind". It didn't stop there as Ted just rolled out one classic after another to start the show; Free For All, Wango Tango, Weekend Warriors, Wang Dang Sweet Poontang. What more could any Ted Nugent fan ask for, the Chance was in a frenzy.
Ted did throw a few new songs in the set, without over doing it, as well as a few surprises. The surprises included breaking up Wango Tango with a rousing rendition of the Kinks classic "You Really Got Me", and a rocking version of the classic tune "Soul Man". The new songs that were played got a good reception from this pro-Nuge crowd and it sounds like this new album "Love Grenade" is shaping up to be pretty darn good. Along with the title track, "Lay With Me" and the slightly satirical "Girlscout Cookies", were played in their entirety; as well as "Geronimo and Me", which sounded fantastic, being segued into at the end of "Baby Please Don't Go". At one point Ted talked about good old American R&B and did a medley of American guitar players, naming classic players such as BB King, Albert King, Chuck Berry, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, among others. Each time he named a guitar player he broke into a 30 second or so snippet of one of that guitarist's songs. It was a real treat to see. Another tune that has become a fan favorite is "Fred Bear", from the "Spirit of the Wild" album. It went over very well as the crowd at the Chance sang along enthusiastically.
Did I mention the props? As part of Ted's stage set he had a skull on a stand with a very large and beautiful Indian head dress on it, one 50 caliber machine gun, as well as several other smaller machine guns. At one point while addressing the crowd Ted did say that "all the kids will leave with a machine gun". Ted did quite a bit of talking as usual; whether speaking as a proud American, or addressing the kids in the audience, Ted always has something to say. At one point there were two young brothers right in front of the stage with their mother; he addressed the boys. He explained to the kids the key to a long healthy life; no drugs, no alcohol, no tobacco, and most importantly no fat, um…, pussy. Then he gave them both a guitar pick. He did in fact even speak on politics on this night, mentioning Hillary Clinton and maybe something about sucking on a machine gun? I don't quite remember.
After the rousing version of "Fred Bear" Ted ended the set with a couple Nugent classics. Up first was "Stranglehold", and then "Cat Scratch Fever"; both songs were obvious crowd pleasers. As the band left the stage the crowd was once again frenzied, cheering wildly, hootin' and hollerin', wanting more Uncle Ted. Uncle Ted obliged, coming back to the stage, now wearing the full Indian head dress that had been up on the stage. Ted stalked the stage for a moment then started playing a familiar guitar riff. It was the opening to another Amboy Dukes tune that has become a Nugent classic over the years, "Great White Buffalo". The band shifted into high gear for this the final song of the night, tearing through it as the crowd roared with delight. As the band left and the crowd began to mill about it was obvious everybody was happy, everyone was commenting on what a great show it was and how good the band was. Everything was positive.
At almost 60 years old, and after 40 plus years on the road, it's amazing that Ted Nugent just seems to keep getting better and better. Sure the days of the loin cloth may be gone and there may be a few more wrinkles, but Ted is living proof that age is just state of mind. It may be true that heroes never die, and some do fade away, but others simply don't give a crap, as they continue to kick ass and take no prisoners, playing by their own rules with no compromise. As good as he still is, its apparent that Ted Nugent, the Motor City Madman, and American rock and roll legend, is gonna kick 60 in the teeth and just keep on rockin'.
1) Journey to the Center of the Mind
2) Free For All
3) Wango Tango/You Really Got Me
4) Weekend Warriors
5) Wang Dang Sweet Poontang
6 ) Lay With Me
7) Baby Please Don't Go / Geronimo & Me
8) Soul Man
9) Hey Baby
10) Rawdogs & Warhogs
11) Love Grenade
12) Girlscout Cookies
13) Need You Bad
14) Fred Bear
16) Cat Scratch Fever
17) Encore - Great White Buffalo