At the beginning of our interview last week about his appearance at the second annual Country Crossroads event at John Ascuaga’s Nugget, I asked Nail how he felt about performing with legends Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard. He got very excited and said he had no clue he’d get to play on stage with them, at which time I apologized and rephrased my question, since he will be playing the day before those two country music icons.
“Being able to share the same stage with those guys is good enough for me,” Nail said.
This celebration of all things country on Memorial Day weekend will feature a host of entertainment, headlined by Nail at 9 p.m. Friday, Uncle Kracker at 8 p.m. Saturday and Haggard with Kristofferson at 8 p.m. Sunday. The weekend also will feature a “Cowboy Crawl” on Victorian Square, the National Texaco Country Showdown, free line dancing and tons of other free entertainment.
Nail, a relative newcomer to the country music scene, brings a refreshing style to the genre. With Sinatra-like poise, natural melody and an enveloping voice, the Missouri native is a modern-day country gentleman. The diverse musical influences of Glen Campbell, Garth Brooks, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Michael Bublé can be heard in Nail’s music.
This is specifically true on Nail’s new album, “The Sound of a Million Dreams.” Nail’s previous album, “I’m About to Come Alive,” yielded the Top 10 hit “Red Light” and was also listed by Esquire Magazine as one of 50 Songs Every Man Should Be Listening To. Nail received an Academy of Country Music nomination for Single Record of the Year for “Red Light” and scored a Grammy nomination for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “Turning Home.”
Tickets for Nail cost $25.
Uncle Kracker spent most of 2011 on the road performing with country superstar and friend, Kenny Chesney. And yet, the Detroit-based singer-songwriter still found time to write and record much of his soon-to-be released album, “Midnight Special.”
The first taste of the new music, “My Hometown,” was produced by Keith Stegall, who produced for the Zac Brown Band and Alan Jackson and also produced Uncle Kracker’s previous release, “Happy Hour – The South River road Sessions.” That album featured the hit single “Smile,” which exceeded two million in sales and was successful on the pop charts before crossing over to become the singer-songwriter’s first solo Top 5 hit on country radio.
Prior to his solo success in country music, Uncle Kracker scored a No. 1 hit with “When the Sun Goes Down,” his collaboration with Chesney, and co-wrote Kid Rock’s multi-format smash “All Summer Long,” which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard country charts.
Tickets to Uncle Kracker cost $45.
Kristofferson has had a distinguished career including writing classic American songs such as “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and “Help Me Make It through the Night.”
He starred in feature films such as “Lonestar,” the “Blade” trilogy, “A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries,” “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid” and “A Star is Born.” He has been honored with three Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and membership in the Songwriter Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
A legend in his own time, Merle Haggard, first broke into the Top 20 of Billboard’s country charts with “Sing a Sad Song” In 1963. In 1966, he entered the No. 1 spot for the first time with “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive,” and won his first Top Male Vocalist of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music.
“Swinging Doors,” “Today I Started Loving You again,” “Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” “Silver Wings” and “Okie from Muskogee” are just a small sample of hits Haggard is known for in his nearly half-century-long career. He has produced more than 40 No. 1 hits, 56 of his songs received BMI awards, he’s released more than 65 albums, been nominated 42 times for CMA awards, won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance and the list of accolades goes on.
Tickets to see Haggard and Kristofferson cost $59 and $68.
The Nugget is also offering a Country Crossroads weekend pass for $129, which includes tickets to each show, a commemorative lanyard and ticket fees.
Country Crossroad will also feature the first-ever Cowboy Crawl that starts at the Nugget and makes its way around to the bars on Victorian Square. The cowboy-themed beer crawl starts at the Nugget Casino Cabaret at 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets cost $5 in advance or $10 at the door.
Trader Dick’s will offer free entertainment Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Guests will be able to hear live country music from Brother Dan from 4 to 8 p.m., the KBUL Texaco Country Showdown karaoke contest from 8 to 10 p.m. and a country DJ from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The Casino Cabaret will feature live music from Rustler’s Heat from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 to 6 p.m. and 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. On Saturday and Sunday, country fans can take line dancing lessons with Amanda Coulson from 9 to 10 p.m. The finals for the KBUL Texaco Country Showdown karaoke contest move to the Cabaret Sunday night from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nashville recording artist Elizabeth Cook will perform a free live concert from 10 p.m. to midnight on Sunday. The party continues with a country DJ from midnight to 3 a.m. Saturday and Sunday nights.
For tickets or more information, call 356-3300 or visit www.janugget.com. Room and show packages are available.