When it comes to country music, Tennessee’s got Nashville, but Texas has Austin … and Dallas and Houston and San Antonio and lots of other smaller cities where live music is being presented on a nightly basis. So it’s no surprise that the Lone Star State has an impressive list of country acts performing on New Year’s Eve.
However, two of country’s top acts will be spending the evening on stages in California and Georgia. After an incredibly eventful 12 months, Miranda Lambert will be performing Thursday and Friday (Dec. 30-31) at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif. Meanwhile, the Zac Brown Band will be sticking closer to home with a show at Atlanta’s Phillips Arena. (Carrie Underwood apparently isn’t working on New Year’s Eve, although she performs Thursday at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Conn., and New Year’s Day at the Borgata Spa and Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.)
Looking at the Texas concert calendar for New Year’s Eve, there’s a lot of activity in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, topped by the Eli Young Band’s appearance at the world’s largest honky-tonk — Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. Also in Fort Worth, Wayne “The Train” Hancock appears at the Wild Rooster Bar. Chris Young is at Cowboys Dancehall in Arlington. In Dallas, Easton Corbin will headline at Cowboys Red River and the Old 97s appear at the House of Blues.
Music fans in Austin can catch the Derailers, Dale Watson and Rick Trevino at the North Austin Event Center. Another local favorite, Alvin Crow & the Pleasant Valley Boys, will be tuning up at the Broken Spoke.
Elsewhere in Texas, Charlie Robison and the Belleville Outfit will ring in the New Year at the historic Gruene Hall in New Braunfels. Jack Ingram plays Cowboys Dancehall in San Antonio, Andy Griggs is at Whiskey River in Waco and Two Tons of Steel will weigh in at another historic venue, Floore’s Country Store in Helotes. Lee Greenwood will provide the halftime entertainment at the Sun Bowl in El Paso.
In Houston, Reckless Kelly is at the House of Blues, and Jason Boland & the Stragglers are booked at the Firehouse Saloon. In nearby Rosenberg, Gretchen Wilson headlines a show at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds in Rosenberg with Colt Ford, the Randy Rogers Band and Stoney LaRue. The overachievers of the day are the members of the Randy Rogers Band. Following their 6 p.m. appearance in Rosenberg, they head to the Wormy Dog Saloon in Oklahoma City for a show with Cody Canada & the Departed.
In Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry’s lineup is particularly strong with Emmylou Harris, Old Crow Medicine Show, Elizabeth Cook, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Jimmy C. Newman, Mike Snider and newcomer Craig Campbell. Once the 7 p.m. show is completed, the audience will leave the Ryman Auditorium and the venue will be prepared for Old Crow Medicine Show’s sold-out concert that begins at 10 p.m.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better entertainment bargain than the annual Bash on Broadway in downtown Nashville. The talent at this year’s street party includes Phil Vassar, Will Hoge and Heidi Newfield. At midnight, a huge guitar will drop to signal the arrival of 2011.
The 35th annual New Year’s Bluegrass Festival is taking place Thursday through Saturday in Jekyll Island, Ga. The New Year’s Eve cast includes Dailey & Vincent, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Grascals, Audie Blaylock & Redline and others.
Others performing on New Year’s Eve include Aaron Lewis (David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Fla.), Steel Magnolia (Grizzly Rose in Denver), Gloriana (Pier Park Amphitheater in Panama City Beach, Fla.), Tracy Lawrence (Evangeline Downs Event Center in Opelousas, La.), Hayes Carll (Revolution Music Room in Little Rock, Ark.) and Little Texas and Ricochet (Grand Resort Hotel in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.).
This list hits some of the highlights, but check your local newspapers, radio stations and websites for additional shows. And if you’re making last-minute plans, it’s always a good idea to call the venue to make sure the show is still taking place — and that there’s still a place for you in the party zone.