The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo prides itself on a varied and fresh entertainment lineup to bring back fans and lure new ones, and this year’s is one of the best.
“I think we have one of the strongest country lineups we’ve had in a long time,” entertainment director Derrick Adams said. “As far as superstars, none are bigger than Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson.
“They were not here last year so it’s neat it worked out they were able to come back.
“Gary Allan is always strong, and we’ve been trying to get Gretchen Wilson for several years. She’ll be a great Saturday matinee on the opening weekend with friends Big & Rich with Cowboy Troy that night.”
Also making debuts will be Trace Adkins, a veteran who’s been hitting home runs, and Josh Turner, a newcomer with a big voice.
On the Texas side, Willie Nelson will return, and Kevin Fowler â€” who was part of a premiere acoustic song swap last year â€” will headline his first rodeo show, kicking off the series tonight after the Xtreme Bulls competition.
For the Stars of Texas Acoustic Showcase, a big star â€” Lee Ann Womack â€” will join road warriors Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen and Stoney LaRue. Then there are the curves â€” the veteran pop rockers The Beach Boys, post-grunge metal with Staind and teenyboppers Aly & AJ.
“Plus we have a lot who wanted to come back, like Montgomery Gentry, Neal McCoy and Sugarland,” Adams said. “We don’t do the same lineup year-in and year-out, but there is a core group we’d love to have.”
One category the rodeo won’t have this year is a comedian, such as Bill Cosby, Bill Engvall or Jeff Foxworthy.
Seems it’s tough to find enough funnymen with a PG rating.
Here is a brief look at the schedule:
Kevin Fowler, 7 p.m., Feb. 1: The Texas honky-tonker is one of the few entertainers around who might be able to upstage the adrenaline rush of the Xtreme Bulls, which will kick off the rodeo. Fowler, known for such tunes as “Beer, Bait and Ammo,” which has been covered by George Jones, Sammy Kershaw and Mark Chesnutt, was part of the rodeo’s inaugural Stars of Texas Acoustic Showcase last year and proved he could win over the huge crowd in the AT&T Center.
Gary Allan, 7 p.m., Feb. 2: Steeped in the Bakersfield, hard-country sound, the California native played the rodeo last year and will return to bring hits such as “Best I Ever Had” and “Tough All Over” as well as his new single, “A Feelin’ Like That,” which already is a Top 20 tune. Allan delivers love and hurt with equal passion, punctuated with a convincing been-there, whiskey-gritty voice.
Gretchen Wilson, 1 p.m., Feb. 3: Rodeo officials have been trying to book Wilson for several seasons, and now she’s hooked up to debut on the same day as her pals Big & Rich. Wilson burst on the scene as one of the rowdiest female country singers around with her hit “Redneck Woman.” She proved she’s here to stay with more, such as “Here for the Party” and “All Jacked Up.”
Big & Rich featuring special guest Cowboy Troy, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4: Nashville’s offbeat duo are part circus sideshow, part rock, part country, part just about everything else and all about the song. They hit the ground running with “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” and never looked back with their unique fusion of their many musical loves. And it helps that they’re both great songwriters, too. Cowboy Troy of Dallas, the world’s only country rapper, will return, too.
Bellamy Brothers, 1 p.m. Feb. 5: Howard and David Bellamy’s fan base, built on more than three decades of touring and recording, is one of the most loyal. So expect sing-alongs on classics such as “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me,” “Redneck Girl” and “Let Your Love Flow.” Brooks & Dunn may win the most awards as country’s best duo, but the Bellamys are the most successful.
Brooks & Dunn, 7 p.m. Feb. 6: The Country Music Association’s reigning duo of the year for the umpteenth time, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn missed the rodeo last year. They’ll be back with their hard-charging blend of rocking honky-tonk about everything from dirt roads and hot women to soulful ballads about love and faith. Expect a hit parade, from 1991′s “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” and 2001′s “Only in America” to last year’s “Hillbilly Deluxe.”
Trace Adkins, 7 p.m. Feb. 7: The big Louisiana native has been cranking out hits for more than a decade, beginning with “Every Light in the House.” So it’s hard to believe this will be his debut performance at the rodeo. But it’ll be a great time to catch a performer as he races to the front of the pack with hit after hit, specializing in sexy, deep-voiced romps on “Hot Mama,” “Swing” and “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” his ode to backsides.
Aly & AJ, 7 p.m., Feb. 8: Giving something for the teens and younger to get excited about, the sister acting/singing duo of Aly & AJ will make their rodeo debut. On the acting side, they’ve been in a number of TV shows such as “General Hospital” but found fame with the Disney Channel in such films as “Cow Belles.” Their cover of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Do You Believe in Magic,” which was in Disney’s “Now You See It,” scored big on Radio Disney, too.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, 7 p.m. Feb. 8: The iconic Southern rock band will return with some new tunes as well as all the hits, such as “Freebird,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Gimme Three Steps” and “Simple Man.” Last year, the influential group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Sugarland, 7 p.m., Feb. 9: Here last year as a trio, Sugarland is back as a duo after the departure of singer/songwriter Kristen Hall. But with lead singer Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush still on board, Sugarland didn’t miss a step. Hall had a hand in writing every song on their debut CD, the multiplatinum “Twice the Speed of Life.” But Nettles and Bush wrote a bunch on the sophomore album, “Enjoy the Ride,” and it clicked, too, with tunes that include “Want To,” which rushed to No. 1 on the country charts.
Alan Jackson, 1 & 7:30 p.m., Feb. 10: A rodeo regular, Jackson wasn’t here last year but he’ll be back with double-barreled matinee and evening performances. The country traditionalist with a bag of hits including “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” “Gone Country,” “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” and “Where I Come From” altered his honky-tonk formula with last year’s “Like Red on a Rose,” which was co-produced with bluegrass star Alison Krauss. It’s an intimate, cozy mix of songs better suited to a sofa and a warm fire than the tinkling glasses in a dance hall.
Josh Turner, 1 p.m. Feb. 11: The up-and-coming country crooner will make his rodeo debut with two albums under his belt and a memorable debut hit with 2003′s “Long Black Train.” Turner’s deep voice scored big on the gospel/blues song about redemption with haunting images of demons and death.
Intocable, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 11: Intocable rose to become one of the top regional Mexican bands on the touring circuit by spicing its traditional norteÃ±o/Tejano music with rock, pop, folk and country rhythms. The latest CD, “Crossroads,” includes South Austin Jug Band and country producer Lloyd Maines, among others, as guest musicians.
Willie Nelson, 7 p.m. Feb. 12: One of Texas’ most-beloved and iconic singer/songwriters â€” as well as country music’s, in general â€” will return to the rodeo with yet another album in the works (hey, he only released five on his own last year, including a tribute to hit songwriter Cindy Walker of Mexia, who died not long after it was out). This time it’s an unprecedented pairing of Nelson, Merle Haggard and Ray Price on “Last of the Breed,” a 22-song, two-disc package of classics and new songs set for release on March 20. (more…)