Country New Year’s Eve: Who’s Playing Where

Zac Brown Band, Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd Among Those Ringing in 2012

It’s time to swap your Stetsons for goofy-looking party hats. It’s New Year’s Eve, and live country music — along with some Southern rock and maybe a beverage of your choice — will help you ring in 2012 at venues from coast to coast.

As usual, most of country’s A-list acts are taking a break from touring and will likely be spending the evening with friends and family, but plenty of major stars will be working Saturday night (Dec. 31) to entertain the rest of us while we’re kicking back and celebrating.

As usual, too, most of the action is taking place in Texas, although major events are being staged in Nashville and Atlanta.

The big attraction in Nashville is a free concert on Lower Broadway where Lynyrd Skynyrd will headline a show featuring singer-songwriter Jeffrey Steele, new act Edens Edge and an even-newer act, the Farm. A15-foot-tall red musical note will drop 115 feet to trigger a fireworks display and a barrage of confetti cannons at the stroke of midnight.

In Atlanta, the Zac Brown Band will headline a show at Philips Arena with singer-songwriters Sonia Leigh and Nic Cowan.

Hands-down, though, the top concert in Texas takes place in Austin at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater where two Country Music Hall of Famers — Willie Nelson and Ray Price — will be performing on a bill that also includes the Gourds and Lukas Nelson.

As long as we have Texas on the brain, here’s a partial list of other live music throughout the state:

Cody Canada & the Departed (Gruene Hall, New Braunfels)
Hayes Carll (La Zona Rosa, Austin)
Mark Chesnutt (Rio Brazos Music Hall, Granbury)
Easton Corbin (Cowboys Dance Hall, Arlington)
Roger Creager (Hyatt Regency, Houston)
Alvin Crow (Broken Spoke, Austin)
Stoney LaRue (Cowboys Dance Hall, San Antonio)
Delbert McClinton (Discovery Green, Houston)
Two Tons of Steel (Floores Country Store, Helotes)
Gene Watson (Old Coupland Inn and Dance Hall, Coupland)
Dale Watson (Kendalia Hall, Kendalia)
Chris Young (Billy Bob’s Texas, Fort Worth)

In Nashville, a band of true hometown heroes — Jason & the Scorchers — will be celebrating “30 years of relentless rock and twang” while recording a live album at the Rutledge. Bluegrass fans flock to hear bassist Mike Bub on a normal night, but his New Year’s Eve show at the tiny Station Inn is scheduled to have some additional star power, including singer-guitarist Dan Tyminski and master fiddler Michael Cleveland. Songwriters Thom Schuyler, Fred Knobloch, Tony Arata and Jelly Roll Johnson will be celebrating on the familiar stage at the Bluebird Café.

Of course, the Grand Ole Opry always operates on its regular schedule, and it turns out that Saturday’s show coincides with New Year’s Eve. There’s always room for surprises at the Opry, but the show at the Ryman Auditorium will feature Little Jimmy Dickens, Jimmy C. Newman, Mike Snider, Jan Howard, George Hamilton IV, Mandy Barnett, Riders in the Sky, Jesse McReynolds, Jimmy Wayne, John Conlee, Jim Ed Brown, Dailey & Vincent and Jett Williams.

Williams, the daughter of Hank Williams Sr., will finish up her Opry set and immediately head to the Ernest Tubb Record Shop’s Texas Troubadour Theatre on Music Valley Drive to appear on the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree, the historic show which is broadcast on Nashville radio station WSM-AM. Once the clock passes midnight, her performance will take place on the anniversary of her father’s untimely death on Jan. 1, 1953. The Midnite Jamboree will also feature David Frizzell and newcomer Jeremy Parsons.

Glancing at various websites, here’s a look at some of the other noteworthy shows scheduled throughout the nation:

Gregg Allman (First Council Casino, Newkirk, Okla.)
John Anderson (The Shed, Maryville, Tenn.)
The Avett Brothers (Bi-Lo Center, Greenville, S.C.)
Eli Young Band (Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa, Okla.)
Colt Ford (Wild Bill’s, Duluth, Ga.)
Wanda Jackson (Club Nokia, Los Angeles)
Old 97s (Intercontinental Hotel, Chicago)
John Michael Montgomery (Robinson Rancheria Resort and Casino, Nice, Calif.)
Corey Smith and Sunny Ledfurd (House of Blues, Myrtle Beach, S.C.)
Thompson Square (Showcase Live, Foxboro, Mass.)
Rhonda Vincent (Jekyll Island Convention Center, Jekyll Island, Ga.)
Wynonna (Mystic Lake Casino, Prior Lake, Minn.)

And if you’re not inclined to fight the crowds and traffic on New Year’s Eve, you can stay home and still catch some prime country music on TV.

The Band Perry will be in some prestigious company during ABC’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve: The 40th Anniversary Party hosted by Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest in New York and Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas in Los Angeles-based portions. The special will also feature Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, Florence & the Machine and Nashville-based Hot Chelle Rae, among others.

Blake Shelton and Cee Lo Green, fellow judges and mentors on The Voice, will appear on NBC’s New Year’s Eve With Carson Daly. Also appearing are Tony Bennett, Drake, Jessie J and the Roots, along with Jimmy Fallon, NBC news anchor Brian Williams and Ricky Gervais.

Rodney Carrington will host American Country New Year’s Eve Live on the Fox network with performances by Toby Keith, the Eli Young Band, Lauren Alaina, Rodney Atkins and Joe Nichols. Howie Mandell will make a special appearance on the special that’s co-hosted by Rick Harrison and Austin “Chumlee” Russell of the Pawn Stars TV series. On the Fox News Channel, Big & Rich, Trace Adkins and the cast of the Tony Award-nominated Rock of Ages will perform on All American New Year.