It's been awhile since I've had the opportunity to write a blog entry for the site. The workload at my computer programming job has increased dramatically in the last year, and it has severely limited the amount of free time that I could use for writing. I am still hard at work on the next entry in the Hunting for the Heart of God series, another devotional entitiled Daily Bread for Deer Hunters. I am also still working on The Cabin, a novel about spiritual warfare. Also, my wife and I are expecting our second child in September, and getting ready for his arrival has kept me quite busy. I do have several things that I want to blog about, including the ups and downs of running a hunting club, so I hope to add more content to this blog as time allows. For today though, I wanted to talk about my recent chance to spend some time behind the scenes with Ted Nugent.
Few celebrities polarize people like Ted Nugent does. It's amazing to me that he causes such dissent in the hunting community, especially considering that no one else in the world speaks out on the benefits of hunting the way that Ted does. People often complain that he is "over the top", but by being over the top he gets the message out to the world about the benefits of hunting every single day, in a large number of venues. No other person in the hunting community comes even close to doing this. But my intention is not to defend Uncle Ted. He can do that himself. What I am here to do is tell you about my experience with him back in mid-May.
I've been a member of Ted's internet forum for over ten years now. It's one in which myself and a few dozen regulars interact with Ted on a daily basis, share hunting stories, talk politics, and have an all around good time. Over the years, I've met Ted a number of times. Sometimes the meetings have been brief, and others have been a little longer. The most time I ever spent around him was at the 2010 NRA convention in Charlotte, when I was able to spend most of the day hanging out in his booth with several other members of his forum. When I got the opportunity to go backstage at his 2012 concert in Charlotte, there was no way that I was going to miss it.
I left work early on a Thursday in May and drove up to Kings Mountain, NC to have lunch with a friend from a local men's ministry. We ate BBQ and discussed the possibility of getting some men together for a Wild at Heart style hunting adventure later in the fall. When that was done, I drove on up to the Verizon Ampitheatre in Concord where I would meet with Ted. The parking lot gates were closed when I got there, and I was told that it would be about an hour and a half before I'd be able to get in. I drove down the road and parked under a shade tree in a shopping center parking lot and made a few phone calls, napped a little, and spent a few minutes reading.
I was third in line when the parking lots opened, and I quickly parked my Jeep and headed over to the Will Call booth, where my entry credentials were waiting for me. I had a brief moment of uncertainty when the attendent could not find my pass, but after a few minutes of searching he found it. He verified my ID and handed over the badge that would get me backstage. The instructions that I had received in my mailbox stated that Ted's manager would meet me at the main gate at 5:45pm and take me back to where Ted would be waiting.
By 6:00, the manager had not shown up. By that time, three or four other people had gathered in the area who were also supposed to go backstage. With the help of one of the gate attendents, we were redirected to a nondescript white gate near the back of the Ampitheatre. We were told to go over to it and wait, and someone would meet us shortly.
After a few minutes spent waiting at the gate, it opened and Ted's son Toby walked out. He remembered meeting me at the NRA convention a couple of years ago, and together we walked to a little outdoor patio area where Toby said for us to wait for a few minutes. As the little group of us sat there, a rock-and-roll looking fellow came up to us and said hello and that he hoped we enjoyed the show. Not being a Styx fan, I was unaware that it was Tommy Shaw, but one of the people in my group recognized him and told us who he was.
Moments later, Toby returned and walked us into the backstage area. As we entered, I recognized Marilyn Brown, the female half of Ted's photography team. She was at the NRA convention as well and has been on Ted's forum, and we waved at each other as we passed. Seeing him through the open door of his dressing room, I was dismayed to see Ted leaning on a cane. I had known that his knees were bad, but did not realize how much they were affecting him. Once we were all in the room, Ted's eyes lit up as he saw me. "South Carolina Sportsman!" he said, calling me by my internet handle. "Good to see you again, how are you?"
We shook hands, and then he introduced himself to the other backstage visitors. None of the others had met Ted before, and it was great to watch their reactions as he addressed each of them in turn. After the introductions were over, Toby suggested that we go ahead and get the picture taking out of the way, so we all got our turn getting individual pictures with Ted, and then one of the group as a whole. The photographer was James Brown, husband of Marilyn and long-time member of the Nuge Board forum.
When the pictures were done, we sat down and spent some time talking hunting, politics, and rock and roll. Ted had a lot to say, and hearing him hold forth in a personal setting was quite an experience. He had a lot to say about the current Presidential administraton, his henchman Eric Holder, and other high profile people. He had nothing but good things to say about the Secret Service agents who paid him a visit after the media misportrayed recent comments that he had made, and talked about the outrageousness of the recent ban on hunting privately owned Oryx in Texas. The conversation was only interrupted once when guitarist and vocalist Derek St. Holmes came in and introduced himself to each of us.
When it was time to go, I stood up and got ready to leave the room. As I did, Ted stuck out his cane to me, silently asking me to help him up. I did so, touched by his gesture. We shook hands again, and said that we each looked forward to our next opportunity to meet.
Toby escorted us out of the room, and James and Marilyn Brown left as well. I walked with them toward the stage, discussing the joys of brass rainbows with James along the way. Mr. Brown is a huge Class-3 enthusiast, and is known for his many full-auto weapons. I told him about the Slide-Fire stock that I had on one of my AR-15s, and although he had not used one, he said that he had heard many good things about them.
After saying goodbye to the Browns, I found my way to my seat, a good one, where I settled in for the show. Ted and his band, the Nigerian Rebels, put on quite a show. The only downside was that it was an abbreviated version of his concerts, since both REO Speedwagon and Styx would be playing later that evening. Not being a fan of either group, I left when Ted's time on the stage was over.
Like all of my experiences with Uncle Ted, I walked away feeling refereshed. He was enthusiastic, friendly, engaging, and present. When Ted talks to you he takes the time to look you in the eye, and to listen to what you have to say to him. I expected nothing less, and when I got home that evening I posted a note of thanks on his internet forum. He quickly responded to my post with on of his own, giving me a resounding "Yowza".
To that, I add my own, and look forward to my next chance at spending time with Mr. Nugent.