LAS VEGAS — As a preliminary event leading up to this week’s Academy of Country Music Awards, Gretchen Wilson brought droves of country fans to the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas on Sunday night (May 13), playing a full set with special guests John Rich and Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart.
Wilson’s performance capped two days of free concerts and followed the fourth annual ACM Charity Motorcycle Ride. The concerts also included performances by Montgomery Gentry, Phil Vassar, Trent Tomlinson, Keith Anderson, Little Texas, Emerson Drive, Craig Morgan, Trick Pony, James Otto, Big Kenny, Carolina Rain, Ray Scott, Heidi Newfield, Halfway to Hazard, Whiskey Falls, Rowdy and Memarie, among others.
In addition to promoting the 42nd annual ACM Awards, Wilson’s performance also called attention to her third album, One of the Boys, set for release Tuesday (May 15). It also marked the first night of her new tour. Rich reprised his vocal part on “Come to Bed” while Heart and Wilson stormed through a cover of “Barracuda.”
For the fourth year in a row, Montgomery Gentry hosted the motorcycle ride that featured dozens of celebrity participants, including Craig Morgan, Trent Tomlinson, Big Kenny of Big & Rich, Two Foot Fred, Richie McDonald of Lonestar, Heidi Newfield, Keith Anderson, Trick Pony, Ray Scott, Halfway to Hazard, Brad Mates of Emerson Drive and James Otto. The motorcycle ride and Monday’s (May 14) celebrity golf tournament raised money for the ACM Charitable Fund. The golf tournament was hosted by Vince Gill for the third consecutive year.
Rehearsals continued Monday for the awards show at the MGM Grand. Among those rehearsing Sunday were Gill, Big & Rich, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Josh Turner, Brooks & Dunn and host Reba McEntire.
Nine of country’s hottest newcomers are scheduled to perform Monday night at the ACM’s Party for a Cause, an event previously billed at the New Artists Show. The concert at the MGM Grand will feature top new male vocalist nominees Rodney Atkins, Craig Morgan and Chris Young, top new female vocalist Miranda Lambert, Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift and top new duo or vocal group nominees Heartland, Little Big Town and the Wreckers. The event also benefits the ACM Charitable Fund.
CBS will broadcast the ACM Awards live from the MGM Grand on Tuesday (May 15) at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
CMT.com’s Craig Shelburne contributed to this report from Las Vegas.