Ted Nugent, firing them up with the rock at Roanoke Civic Center on Sunday | Don Peterson, special to The Roanoke Times
Because there is only so much space in print:
I could have filled this morning’s review of the REO Speedwagon, Styx, Ted Nugent and Roanoke-based, contest-winning opening act Adam Rutledge with my mixture of exhileration and annoyance at Ted Nugent’s opening set.
For starters, Nugent is impressive in that, for all his extra-rockular activities — skilled hunter and ammunition seller, best-selling author, NRA board member/provacateur — he has retained his ferocity on both guitar and vocals. His band, including on-again/off-again rhythm guitarist and singer Derek St. Holmes, bassist Greg Smith and drummer “Wild” Mick Brown, rocked exactly to the “Motor City Madman’s” specifications.
The man they call “Uncle” Ted is part of the Midwest Rock And Roll Express now, opening, as he did so often in the days when he blew acts off the stage. And by the rock gods, he did it with brutal volume. It was so much fun to hear songs like “Stranglehold” “Great White Buffalo,” and “Hey Baby” — St. Holmes’ work on the latter two showed a voice that has only improved with age — played by old rockers who cannot help but crank it.
It was even fun to hear “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Wango Tango,” with Nugent in full demented mode, the loincloth of old replaced by jeans, the flowing hair replaced by a camouflage cowboy hat. The crowd went bats for the 50-minute set.
Nugent gave what many in the crowd likely thought was a feel-good black history lesson, calling the names of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, James Brown and Motown artists as big influences on his music. Having heard this music for decades, I can say that this is definitely true in spirit. “Hey Baby,” for example, is a funky blues offering that St. Holmes sang with soul. The band’s version of The Temptations’ hit “My Girl” was pretty decent, though its work on “Johnny B. Goode” was much better at the back end of a medley.
What he didn’t say was that for Nugent, it is the Black Power 2013 Tour. In the article linked from the last sentence, he wrote: “All too often black children are now raised in single-parent households with no father in their lives.”
But before he introduced all his black musical heroes and played a bit of their music, he told the crowd that “every piece of music you love comes from a black American son of a bitch.”
Really, Ted? Did you have to call them sons of bitches? I know you’re crude, dude, but seriously.
In the World Net Daily piece, he wrote, “The truth is that the Democratic Party has been the engineer of the destruction of black Americans, and everyone knows it except the very people who need to know it the most – black Americans.”
That is Nugent talking out of his backside. As Leonard Pitts pointed out recently, “the Democrats themselves are still living on the 50-year-old fumes of Lyndon Johnson’s legacy. So there is no reason the GOP cannot command a portion of the black vote.” Pitts’ point, a small part of his column about Sen. Rand Paul’s visit to Howard University, is not a new one. Nugent was just not aware of it.
This is the same guy who has pondered on the op-ed page of The Washington Times about whether it would have been better if the South had won the Civil War. Way to bring your new target audience into the flock, Nuge.
Again, “Stranglehold” sounded great, and St. Holmes sang the devil out of it. But Nugent again had to preface it with something ridiculous.
“I love freedom! I love freedom!” he said, dedicating the next song to the military, the National Guard, the Coast Guard. “… It’s time to get the world in a ‘Stranglehold,’ m***********s!”
It is not clear whether Nugent defecated on himself, along with other self-abuse, in order to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War era. He has told different versions of how he avoided service at that time. Read all about it at snopes.com — www.snopes.com/politics/military/nugent.asp
Someone who avoided military service still is guaranteed the right to support the troops. The same First Amendment gives other people the option to call him out on his B.S., particularly when someone is using a song title to encourage war-making.
“I wish I was somebody else so I could go see me, ’cause nobody plays like this anymore,” Nugent told the crowd.
He would surely have loved himself.
At any rate, I’m still glad that Nugent has so far survived his prediction that he would be “dead or in jail” by — well, a couple of weeks ago — if President Barack Obama was re-elected. It was good to hear him rock out, annoyances and all.