Two big Vegas country-music residencies are timing their latest local shows to NFR: Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn team up again at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace (December 2-3, 7, 9-10), while George Strait performs two nights at the T-Mobile Arena (his current exclusive live-performance home) along with opener Kacey Musgraves (December 2-3). The MGM Grand Garden Arena will host two big-name concerts, with redneck kingpin Toby Keith (December 9) followed by country icon Tim McGraw (December 10), who’s been a Vegas regular in his mini-residencies with wife Faith Hill but hasn’t headlined a solo show here in a while.
Onetime Sugarland lead singer Jennifer Nettles (December 3, the Foundry) is supporting her recent solo Christmas album with a holiday-themed show. Country-pop trio Lady Antebellum (December 7, the Chelsea) has mostly been on hiatus since last year, and the group’s Vegas date is its only currently scheduled concert. Vegas regular Gary Allan (December 9-10, the Joint) is a New Year’s Eve staple, but he’ll be hitting town a little earlier this year, with guitar phenom Lindsay Ell opening. Coming off her first No. 1 country single (“Peter Pan”), Kelsea Ballerini (December 9-10, Orleans Showroom) will be joined by fellow fresh country face Cam. Also: Frankie Ballard (December 2, the Foundry); Josh Turner (December 2-3, Orleans Showroom); Chase Rice (December 5, the Chelsea); Justin Moore (December 9, the Chelsea); Love and Theft (December 9, Stoney’s).
A contemporary of George Strait and Garth Brooks, Clay Walker (December 2, MGM Grand Gold Buckle Zone) has been playing solid, straightforward country since the early ’90s. Veteran country band Alabama (December 2-3, the Chelsea) has experienced a resurgence in recent years thanks to collaborations with artists like Brad Paisley and Florida Georgia Line. Tanya Tucker (December 4, Golden Nugget) had her first hit nearly 45 years ago at age 13, and still maintains an outlaw country spirit. Wynonna Judd (December 8, Golden Nugget) will bring along her backing band the Big Noise for a show featuring Christmas favorites and original hits. Also: Terri Clark (December 1, Golden Nugget); Lonestar (December 4, MGM Grand Gold Buckle Zone); Brenda Lee (December 5, Golden Nugget); Trace Adkins (December 9, Golden Nugget).
In past years, alt-country and Americana artists have had a fairly significant presence during NFR, but there are only a few left-of-center performances scheduled this year. Canadian singer-songwriter Corb Lund (December 8, MGM Grand Gold Buckle Zone) will make a rare Vegas appearance to showcase his quirky repertoire. Veteran Dwight Yoakam (December 8, the Chelsea) has always been just outside the country mainstream, and his latest album is a collection of bluegrass songs. And country swing act Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys (December 8, Backstage Bar & Billiards) will head Downtown to catch the rockabilly crowd.