Central Texas’ Ted Nugent fans have a home field advantage when it comes to Uncle Ted’s summer tours: The veteran rock guitarist often warms up with a local May show.
He’ll bring his smoking fingerwork to the stage this Saturday, performing at Smiley’s Country Club with openers Clean Slate and Dirty Groove Noise with vocalist Lexi Garza, after a VIP party the night before.
He doesn’t see it as a warm-up, though, just the latest dose of high-energy guitarobatics that has fueled a career for the Detroit-area native — the “Motor City Madman” — stretching more than 50 years and more than 30 million albums sold. “I’ve been warming up for a tour since 1958,” he said.
Nugent will tour California, the Midwest and East Coast in July and August, backed on the road by longtime support from bassist Greg Smith and drummer John Hartless. Riffing off the title of last year’s locally recorded album, “The Music Made Me Do It,” the tour goes by “The Music Made Me Do It Again.”
“The bad and the ugly of it is that there are no Texas dates,” said Nugent, who for the last 15 years has lived with his wife Shemane near China Spring. “But it will all be good.”
Providing the local version of the “relentless, throbbing rhythm section” that’s the foundation on which Nugent plants his guitar work are his frequent collaborators Johnny Big on bass and Jon Kutz on drums and Nugent is quick to say there’s no drop off when they’re onstage with him or in the studio.
Nugent caps the show celebrating the 30th year of Waco music store Lone Star Music, whose owner Calvin Ross is a longtime friend and a rock musician himself, playing with the band Dirty Groove Noise. Rock music brought Ross and Nugent together nearly 30 years ago and has been a consistent thread in their friendship since. “He loves the music like I do,” Nugent noted.
At 71, Nugent makes few concessions to age, pointing out he’s still writing — his latest, “Leave Me Alone,” addresses “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he said — continuing his long-running hunting show “Spirit of the Wild” on the Outdoor Channel; running his Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids charity; hunting; and playing guitar.
“If the 25-year-old Ted Nugent showed up, I’d kick his ass,” he said. “When you love it like I do, nothing really changes. We’re cocked, locked and ready to rock, Doc.”