Vegas goes country: Tallying up the many twangy acts in town for NFR week

From left: Kane Brown, Florida Georgia Line and Reba McEntire.
Photos by AP

As usual, the week of the National Finals Rodeo is jam-packed with country concerts, from major superstars to local bands, and a whole lot in between. The country stars with Vegas residencies always make sure to schedule shows during NFR, which means you can catch the latest dates from Reba and Brooks & Dunn at the Caesars Palace Colosseum (December 7-8, 12, 14-15) and George Strait at T-Mobile Arena (December 7-8). One of the most underrated aspects of Strait’s residency is his dedication to bringing in eclectic opening acts, and for this round of shows he has veteran Americana singer-songwriters Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett onboard. Pop-country duo Florida Georgia Line also launches its mini-residency at the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood (December 7-8, 11), likely the first run of many if things go well.

Other big-name country acts will hit the Strip and nearby: the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan brings in party-friendly bro-country hitmakers with shows from Luke Combs (December 14) and the double bill of Kip Moore and Jon Pardi (December 15). All three have recent singles in heavy rotation on country radio. The Park Theater will host crossover star Kane Brown (December 15), who brings a healthy amount of R&B to his pop-oriented country songs. NFR mainstay Gary Allan also returns for his fourth-annual visit to the Joint (December 14-15).

The Golden Nugget is once again the hub for country shows Downtown, with a lineup of returning headliners including longtime country favorites Tanya Tucker (December 7), John Michael Montgomery (December 8), Lonestar (December 12) and the duo of Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan (December 11). Also on the Nugget’s calendar this year are Jo Dee Messina (December 6), Ray Wylie Hubbard (December 9), Tracy Lawrence (December 10) and Colt Ford (December 13). Eccentric country outlaw Jamey Johnson rounds out the Nugget’s schedule (December 14), bringing a bit of unpredictability to the lineup.

Elsewhere on the alt-country and Americana side of things, perennial NFR visitor Dwight Yoakam switches venues this year with a show at Brooklyn Bowl (December 14). Also at Brooklyn Bowl, Oklahoma country-rockers Turnpike Troubadours are joined by wry Canadian singer-songwriter Corb Lund (December 7). Legendary country-folk singer-songwriter John Prine (a favorite of both Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash) makes his second Vegas stop in recent years at the Westgate (December 12), with opener John Paul White, formerly of The Civil Wars. Vinyl has a strong lineup of rising stars in the Americana scene, all playing for free, including up-and-coming Nashville country-rock band Cordovas (December 8, 15), Texas country-rock duo The Powell Brothers (December 12) and progressive bluegrass band The Black Lillies (December 14).

New venue 172 inside the Rio puts the spotlight on locals, with “desert honky-tonk” band The Rhyolite Sound headlining a Vegas country bill that also includes bluegrass outfit The All-Togethers (December 14) and Paige Overton (December 14-15), and fellow honky-tonkers The Reeves Brothers joining forces with soul revival act Shanda & The Howlers (December 16).

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