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Here’s your roundup of National Finals Rodeo performances

“If you check out of your hotel after 10 days in Vegas and they give you a videotape of everything you did here, you’d probably go home and never drink again.

“Or come back,” Rodney Carrington says.

Yet come back he does. And, yes, you read the “10 days” part right.

Of all the country-flavored headliners booked for the National Finals Rodeo, Carrington is the only one who covers both weekends in his shows at the MGM Grand; this year’s stretch began Thursday and runs through Dec. 12.

“If you leave here and you’re physically crying, no one’s really shocked after 10 days,” the comedian says.

Carrington is catching up to the rodeo’s Las Vegas longevity champion, Charlie Daniels (back at The Orleans on Dec. 11 and 12), and veterans such as Brooks & Dunn (teamed with Reba McEntire at Caesars Palace) by doing his stand-up and song parodies during the NFR every year — he can’t remember skipping one — since 2000.

“It’s almost become just a foregone conclusion I’m coming,” Carrington says. “I get excited every time I come out here, like a teenager.”

“I know how Vegas operates,” he adds. “You come out here thinking you’re going to make plans, (but) this town dictates to you. It pretty much just puts you in a headlock and pulls you around wherever it wants you to go. Staying down on the Strip and being in all the action and having a bunch of friends around is a great recipe for not only great fun, but tremendous disaster,” he adds with a laugh.

But seriously, after so many Decembers here, he says he keeps his craziness down to “a couple of nights. The rest of the time I enjoy the food, play a lot of golf.”

It’s a testament to Carrington that he sustains his drawing power enough for the MGM to continue hosting him. He’s 47 now and isn’t “current” in the sense of Comedy Central specials. His sitcom “Rodney” ended almost 10 years ago.

“Most of the people who come to see me now are people who have been following me for 10, 15, 20 years,” he says. “It’s kind of like little family reunions every week in a different city.”

“I am really content in my world,” which includes taping a new special in February and the recent release of “The Hits.” On that one, Carrington copped the strategy of many a classic rocker, re-record old faves in new versions not owned by an indifferent record label.

Carrington says he has worked through a tough divorce, which at least inspired a lot of material.

“As I get older, my material is reflective of me getting older, and therefore it’s reflective of (the audience) getting older as well. I think that’s the common denominator and why people just keep coming. It’s a nice thing. You never get tired of seeing somebody doubled over laughing.”

Here are some more NFR hightlights, with visitors familiar and new:

Land of the free

Don’t blink at the beer prices. NFR week takes the Strip back to its loss-leader days of name country acts with no ticket price.

Both The Mirage and the MGM Grand’s convention area “Gold Buckle Zone” offer several acts that play ticketed shows in suburban casinos other times of the year.

The Mirage is billed as the official after-party of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. So you better party like a pro for the Casey Donahew Band and Kevin Fowler at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dallas Smith at 10 p.m. Sunday, Glen Templeton at 10 p.m. Monday, A Thousand Horses at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, The Cadillac Three at 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Easton Corbin at 10:30 p.m. Friday and Joe Nichols at 10 p.m. Saturday.

At the MGM Grand, the name entertainers get going about 10 p.m. with “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery on Friday, Gloriana on Saturday and Monday, Southern rockers Blackberry Smoke on Sunday and Tuesday, Davisson Brothers on Wednesday and “The Voice” winner Craig Wayne Boyd on Thursday and Dec. 11.

Carrington may be in the champions circle with his longevity as a ticketed act, but the bar band Ricky & The Redstreaks is the one that covers most of the rodeo’s 30-year Las Vegas history. This year they play free in the Silverton’s Veil Pavilion at 9 p.m. Dec. 7 to 11.

If you can pace yourself until midnight, the South Point has a series of free acts in its showroom: Aaron Watson from Friday through Sunday, Curtis Grimes from Monday through Tuesday, and Cody Johnson from Wednesday through Saturday.

Concert stars

Sam Hunt is officially sold out today at The Cosmopolitan, as are the Reba/Brooks & Dunn shows at Caesars Palace. But there’s always a way for the committed in Las Vegas, thanks to the “secondary ticket” market.

Pace your “Day Drinking” if you’re going to make it till 8 p.m. for country quartet Little Big Town, with Ashley Monroe on Friday at the Hard Rock Hotel. Tickets are $49.50 to $150; call 888-929-7849. And Gary Allan, fresh from the recent Route 91 Revisited fest, moves indoors at the Hard Rock on Dec. 11 and 12.

Josh Turner, who hit it big with “Long Black Train” in 2003, plays The Orleans at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; tickets are $60.50-$82.50; call 702-365-7075. And NFR fever spreads even further into the suburbs with Trick Pony at the Suncoast at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; tickets are $44; call 702-284-7777.

Golden classics

Country radio may forget, but the Golden Nugget remembers country legends and veteran hit-makers in a run of nightly 10 p.m. concerts in its Grand Event Center; ticket prices vary. The biggest legend is Merle Haggard, returning for his fifth year in a row, on Monday and Tuesday.

The other stars are Big and Rich on Friday, Trace Adkins on Saturday, Terri Clark on Sunday, LeAnn Rimes on Wednesday and Alabama on Thursday and Dec. 11.

After you ride the bull…

Every week is rodeo week at Gilley’s Saloon inside Treasure Island, but the real one brings the duo LoCash (Chris Lucas and Preston Brust) and hits such as “Keep in Mind” and “I Love This Life” at 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. There is a $10 cover.

Read more from Mike Weatherford at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com. Follow him @Mikeweatherford.

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