I’m from Texas, home of Billy Bob’s (“the world’s largest honky tonk”) and high schools where country is cool. My earliest exposure to live music was as a child playing on the sidelines as my grandparents square-danced. I would copy their moves, spinning in glee, just like the little girl who twirled and danced at Sunday’s Cowboys for Cancer benefit concert at Club Madrid in Sunset Station.
When I attended Cowboys for Cancer, a six-and-a-half-hour concert benefitting both the Caring Place and local cancer survivor/musician Vance Davenport, I assumed—being from the land of Milk & Country as I am—that I’d hear lots of original country music. Instead I found only a few original songs among all the hours of music, no huge surprise in a city that offers more to cover bands than original ones.
Likewise, it seems natural that Austin Davenport, the 7-year-old son of beneficiary Vance Davenport, stole the show, dancing onstage with almost every band, doing stage dives and even singing a spirited cover of Alan Jackson’s “Chatahoochie.” A few other observations:
Third Town: It seems the best way for a country band to make it in Vegas is to go to Nashville. Third Town made it to the top 12 of the TV show Nashville Star, only to be eliminated in Episode 2.
Scotty Alexander: Alexander fronts a solid country cover band. He has the confidence and dance moves of a seasoned performer. Like a country Zowie Bowie, Alexander and his wife Lisa take turns singing, with Lisa tackling female country covers from the likes of Carrie Underwood.
Wolf Creek: Though I make no effort to seek out live country music, I’ve actually seen this band perform twice before this concert, so they must be doing something right. This seems to be the workhorse of Vegas country bands, with a steel guitar, fiddle—basically all you could want in a country band, except original music.
Lefty Lucy Band: Winner of Kenny Chesney’s Next Big Star competition, Lefty Lucy performed as a duo and only played a three-song set: two originals followed by a standard cover of “Me and Bobby McGee.” I was left wanting more.
Voodoo Cowboys: The newest country band of the batch, the Cowboys were able to inspire a bout of spontaneous line dancing. It’s the same-ol’ music, but performed by a jolly, edgy lead singer who looks more rock than country.
In closing, a quiz:
1 If 10 bands play a country benefit concert, and, according to one of the musicians, those 10 bands constitute 80 percent of the country music scene in Vegas, then how many country bands are there total in Vegas?
2 If those 10 bands play 99 percent cover songs, how many total original country songs are being produced in the city of Las Vegas?
3 From those answers, you can effectively say that the country music scene in Vegas is ___________________.