Country-music stars with local residencies know that NFR time is ideal for them to schedule shows, so superstar George Strait will be in town for his latest doubleheader at T-Mobile Arena (December 8-9), playing his dozens of hits. He’ll be joined this time by opener Cam, whose new single “Diane” takes on the Dolly Parton classic “Jolene” from a different perspective. Reba McEntire and Brooks & Dunn will also play the latest round of shows in their team-up residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace this week (December 8-10).
The Golden Nugget has been at the forefront of NFR country shows for quite a while now, and this year the Downtown property has booked more artists than ever. New to the Nugget is outlaw country/Americana singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson (December 15), whose shows can be unpredictable and varied, full of covers and obscurities from his career as a solo artist and Nashville songwriter. Harmonizing duo Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan (December 9) will support their recent second duets album, Come See Me and Come Lonely. Big-time ’90s hitmaker Clint Black (December 14) might not be packing them in like his hat-act contemporaries Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson anymore, but he’s still just as solid a performer. Other Nugget shows include John Michael Montgomery (December 7), Brenda Lee (December 8), Charlie Daniels Band (December 10), Ronnie Milsap (December 11), Tanya Tucker (December 12) and Lonestar (December 13).
The Cosmopolitan is stepping up its country game this year for the latest edition of its Boots on the Boulevard series at the Chelsea, with big mainstream country stars Cole Swindell (December 8-9), Dustin Lynch (December 10) and Dierks Bentley (December 15-16), all of whom offer variations on party-friendly bro country. They’ll be joined by perennial NFR favorite Dwight Yoakam (December 13), whose unpretentious country-rock is always a welcome counterpoint to slick modern Nashville sounds.
For more alternatives to the country mainstream, Brooklyn Bowl is getting on board with three shows this year: throwback country outlaw Cody Jinks (December 8), who has been compared to fellow iconoclasts Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson; veteran country-folk singer-songwriter Corey Smith (December 9); and long-running red dirt country group the Randy Rogers Band (December 15), which straddles the line between gritty and radio-friendly.
Elsewhere around town, Vegas favorite Gary Allan, a frequent country chart-topper, will be back at the Joint (December 8-9). Country lifer Travis Tritt, who has had a long and varied career, will be at the Westgate (December 8-9). And legendary country group Alabama will be joined by founding guitarist Jeff Cook in one of his few live appearances of the year (since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease) for three shows at the Encore Theater (December 13 & 15-16).