No tears in the beer at new honky-tonk

There was denim for days, little people in suede chaps and cowboy hats, dudes double-fisting bottles of Coors on the sidewalk and a pony in the parking lot.

“Is that a mule or a jackass?” a blonde in barely-there jean shorts asked as she approached the creature, apparently unaware that it was a horse.

Oh yeah, the grand opening of Stoney’s Rockin’ Country was pretty grand, a spectacle as big as all the Texas-sized belt buckles present, with hundreds of revellers in Stetsons hovering about the new country mega-club in anticipation and a camera crew filming it all for a reality show in the works.

But about the opening part, well, that would have to wait.

Last-minute licensing issues forced the club, at 9155 Las Vegas Blvd.South, to postpone its Aug. 24 opening for a few days. This party would end before it really began.

“Earlier in the afternoon, I felt like I had gotten to the top of the mountain. I was so excited,” the club’s namesake, Stoney Gray, says with a sigh of the club’s false start. “I can’t even give you all the emotions. And then to have that taken from me was really hard.”

Gray’s in better spirits early the next week, sitting at the bar of his now-open venue. A mammoth, 20,000-square-foot space with high ceilings and a wood-grained decor, Stoney’s is the city’s most complete honky-tonk.

Appointed with two bars, a large wooden dance floor, a pair of leather couch-strewn lounges, pool tables, miniature bowling games and a sizable stage, Stoney’s is an open, multipurpose nightspot with a cowboy bent.

There’s a mechanical bull, a facade of an old Western ghost town dominates one end of the club and raccoon and deer hides are mounted on the walls.

In a town with a sizable country contingent but few real outlets that cater to the music and its fans, Stoney’s fills a substantial void.

“If you travel around the country, you see these places. They’re all over,” says Gray, a stout, sturdy man with a shaved head. “There’s nothing like this on the West Coast, and country’s so popular. It just seemed like there was this big gaping hole.”

Still, as its name implies, there’s a rock ‘n’ roll feel at the place as well, an approachable, yet occasionally raucous vibe with $20 all-you-can-drink draft beer specials and bikini bull riding on the weekends.

“We’re country first, but we cross all boundaries,” Gray says. “I think people are tired of going to clubs where you only hear one type of music. Music without prejudice — that’s what we are.”

And as if on cue, Gray’s cell phone buzzes to life with a hip-hop ringtone from rapper Chamillionaire.

“See?” he says with a self-validating smile. “I like all kinds of music.”

Jason Bracelin’s “Sounding Off” column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 383-0476 or e-mail him at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com.

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