Rodney Atkins kicks off the Henderson Pavilion’s spring concert season with cowboy boots.
The singer, 40, topped the country album charts in 2006 with "If You’re Going Through Hell," a fist-pumping celebration of small-town Southern values that yielded four No. 1 country singles (including the title track).
"On ‘Going Through Hell,’ I was really trying to just not be anything but myself," Atkins says, phoning from just outside of Nashville in his home state.
Atkins released his follow-up album, "In America," on March 31. Its songs include the anthemic title track, an ode to his young son called "Simple Things" and a twangy prayer session called "Got It Good."
"I guess ‘In America’ is in essence the same subject matter," Atkins admits. "I’m not trying to fool anybody, trying to make a departure from what I do.
"But we pushed the envelope because vocally, the album’s better."
Atkins has played the valley before, but only as a half-hour support act for Brad Paisley. His Friday concert will be his first here as a headliner.
"We’re really looking forward to it," he says. "Now we’ll be playing for 90 minutes plus."
Atkins already has warm and fuzzy memories of the Strip. In 2007, at the MGM Grand Garden arena, he received the Academy of Country Music Award for best male vocalist.
"That was the wildest, standing on that stage," he says. "That was out of body."
But he chose Henderson for his first headlining tour to keep ticket prices down. (When Travis Tritt played the Tropicana last year, for example, tickets started at $65. When Tritt plays the 4,000-seat Pavilion on May 15, they start at $35.)
"We’re trying to play where everybody can afford a ticket and come have a great time and bring the whole family," Atkins says. "Everybody’s kind of tightening their belt this year."
Atkins says he’ll still steal some time to hit the Strip himself, however.
"You’ve got to double down," he says.
Contact reporter Corey Levitan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0456.Preview
Who: Rodney Atkins
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Parkway, Henderson Tickets: $15-$50 (267-4849)