Everyone knows Las Vegas in early December is dominated by cowboys, cowgirls, and country folk. Massive crowds flock to sin city for the “Super Bowl of Rodeo”. What most people don’t know, is NFR has also become a hot bed for country music spanning those 10 days. Sure the superstar acts like George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, and Shania Twain have headline acts across the town’s biggest venues, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Countless up and coming, mid-size, and established acts can be found on any given night at multiple casinos. The best part, many of them are FREE!
Many of these artists make it a point to play NFR every year, this isn’t just for the great party atmosphere, the rodeo, or the city itself. More importantly, they get to play to extremely loyal fans and a demographic largely forgotten by country radio. Plus, everyone who is anyone in the western industry, is in town that week. Rodeo committees, potential sponsors, venue owners, radio personalities, the list goes on and on. This all adds up to an unbelievable opportunity for fans of rodeo and country music, to experience any number of great performances.
Every year I have a difficult time deciding which shows to attend. However, I seem to find myself at The Mirage frequently. This after-party hosted by Matt West and Dale Brisby is hard to beat and always draws a great lineup. This year I was able to catch up with my friends Chancey Williams and The Younger Brothers Band, as they drew a massive Tuesday night crowd.
Gilley’s at Treasure Island is another excellent choice. The venue brings the honky-tonk vibe to the strip, along with an excellent lineup that included Chancey Williams and our other good friends Reckless Kelly.
Another show that was absolutely killer this year was Ned Ledoux at the Silverton Casino. Ned brought the party to a unique venue, with an awesome classy feel.
The Thomas and Mack also provide great entertainment immediately following the rodeo. Sean Curtis rocked the Cox Pavilion again this year.
No Las Vegas Country Music review would be complete without mentioning South Point. The post buckle ceremony shows have become a nightly event for many fans, in large part because of great acts like Aaron Watson and Josh Ward.
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