National Finals Rodeo

Country cavalcade

Breaking down the musical cowboys and cowgirls hitting town during National Finals Rodeo

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Miranda Lambert

The A-list

Vegas isn’t getting any arena-filling superstars this year, but these acts are just about at the top of the genre, and could easily attract audiences with or without the rodeo. That means these shows will probably be filled with a mix of die-hard fans and casual listeners who aren’t even aware of NFR.

Miranda Lambert (December 5-6, Golden Nugget); Brooks & Dunn (December 5-7, Las Vegas Hilton); John Rich with Cowboy Troy (December 10-11, Las Vegas Hilton); Gary Allan (December 11-12, House of Blues); Blake Shelton (December 12-13, Silverton); Gretchen Wilson (December 12-13, Las Vegas Hilton).

Clay Walker.

Workhorses

They’re not quite household names, but they’re reliable journeymen on the country-music circuit. Some are up-and-comers with only one or two albums to their names, while others have been plugging away for years with low-level success. These shows are solid bets for rodeo fans looking for a bit of familiarity without spending too much money.

Sawyer Brown (December 5, Boulder Station); Clay Walker (December 5-6, Silverton); Gloriana (December 6, Canyon Club); Pat Green (December 7-8, Golden Nugget); Flynnville Train (December 7-11, Silverton); Matt Jenkins (December 11, Canyon Club); Jeff Allen (December 12, Canyon Club); The Lost Trailers (December 12-13, Imperial Palace).

Lee Greenwood.

Veterans

Some are old-timers past their prime, and some are vital performers who just don’t have the following they once did. Either way, these acts hit the road regularly to trot out their past hits, and that’s exactly what they’ll be doing for the NFR crowd, which is probably more appreciative than most.

Travis Tritt (December 5-6, Tropicana); Lee Greenwood (December 7, Orleans Showroom); Ronnie Milsap (December 9-10, Golden Nugget); The Charlie Daniels Band (December 11-12, Golden Nugget); Jo Dee Messina (December 12-14, Orleans Showroom); Lorrie Morgan (December 13, Eastside Cannery).

Bill Engvall

Redneck comedians

Thanks to Jeff Foxworthy (who won’t be appearing), Southern-fried stand-up comedy has become a genre unto itself. These aren’t musical performers (although some of them have recorded the occasional novelty song), but they’re inextricably linked with country, and hold equal appeal to the NFR audience.

Ron White (December 5-6, Mirage); Rodney Carrington (December 8-13, MGM Grand Hollywood Theatre); Bill Engvall (December 11-12, Treasure Island); Larry the Cable Guy (December 13, Orleans Arena).

Jesse Dayton

Alt-country

Even rodeo fans have diverse tastes in music, and some of them might not be completely sold on mainstream country, or might at least yearn for a little variety. Thus, a handful of alternative acts with their roots in country music play venues not generally thought of as havens for cowboys.

Ryan Adams (December 6, The Pearl); The Clydesdale (December 6, Beauty Bar); Jesse Dayton (December 12-13, Wasted Space).

Tony Marques

Cover bands

Country music permeates the entire city during NFR, so any random casino lounge you happen to wander into is likely to have a band churning out country covers. Some of these acts may be better than others, but all of them are likely to turn out respectable versions of genre classics.

Numerous acts (including the Tony Marques Band) at various venues.

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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