Rocker Ted Nugent won’t be able to stop in Rifle during his U.S. tour, his agent told the Post Independent on Friday.
Don Chaney, cultural and special events manager for the city of Rifle, told the PI that “on a wild hair,” he called Nugent’s manager and told him about the New Ute Events Center.
“And I mentioned our name is Rifle and we’re just a block from Shooters Grill,” Chaney said. “He said, ‘I love this, tell me more.’”
Nugent, an avid outdoorsman and hunter, is one of the nation’s most outspoken advocates of the Second Amendment.
“They contacted us,” Nugent agent Doug Banker said by email. “We weren’t able to accommodate their request based on our very tight tour schedule and Ted’s daily travel schedule. However, if we had had the time to make an appearance, we certainly would have stopped by the Shooters Grill. ... It sounds like the safest place in the country to have lunch.”
Servers at Shooters wear holstered handguns, and the diner encourages customers to bring their guns with them when they enter. After a story in the Post Independent about the diner, it garnered nationwide attention.
Chaney said an appearance by Nugent in Rifle and perhaps a visit to Shooters would be a “giant PR move for everybody.”
Chaney acknowledged that Nugent’s tour schedule was very tight.
Nugent is booked daily through Aug. 5. His only Colorado date is in Englewood on July 30, followed by a show in Salt Lake City on July 31. A publicist said Nugent, who’s 65, flies from city to city.
He plays much larger venues than the 300-seat Ute, so a Rifle appearance would have been based on the Second Amendment message and publicity involved.
Nugent has also served continuously on the National Rifle Association board of directors since 1995.
Regarding the Ute, which is sold out for tonight’s Riders in the Sky show, Chaney said other acts that have expressed an interest in performing at the theater are a comedy troupe from Denver, singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen and the Kentucky Headhunters, a country and Southern rock band.
“Their manager has called three times and they seem willing to accept a smaller and smaller offer,” Chaney said of the latter. “They’re idle now [on their concert tour], so I hope we can work something out.”
The events center also might feature a performance of “Always ... Patsy Cline” by the company that always sells out Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House, Chaney added.
What may encourage more such “name” acts to consider performing in the events center is the soon-to-be approved sales of beer and wine. The Rifle City Council informally decided during a Wednesday evening workshop to have the city assume the responsibility and liability for such sales in the center, instead of seeking a concessionaire.
Chaney noted issuing “arts and entertainment” permits for alcohol sales will mean the city gets all the revenue and can be more flexible with scheduling. The city would contract with servers who complete TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) alcohol certification, he added.
“Performers and promoters kind of have the expectation that they will be able to serve [alcohol] when they come to a venue,” Chaney said. “Adults are more likely to go if they can buy a beer or wine, too.”
Those sales have added between $19,000 to $72,000 to the annual revenue of several city-owned performing arts venues Chaney consulted, he told council. Many of those are larger than the New Ute, but Chaney said he believed alcohol sales will help the city come close to covering the center’s operating costs.
City Council will consider initial approval of the sale of beer and wine at the New Ute at its Aug. 6 meeting.
Friday’s night’s concert by Riders in the Sky will offer only popcorn and soda pop, Chaney noted.