When Academy of Country Music is in town, it's just as star-studded as the Grammys, the Oscars and the American Music Awards, but with many more cowboy boots. The 49th annual ACM Awards take place on Sunday, April 6, but there's a whole slew of additional events happening the one week a year Vegas goes country.
Clips from rehearsals
It all kicks off on Thurday, April 3 with a free concert by Hunter Hayes at The Linq with Cole Swindell, Sasha McVeigh and David Nail.
The cowboy boots get traded in for golf shoes on Saturday, April 5 when Darius Rucker hosts the third annual ACM Lifting Lives Celebrity Golf Classic. Country music artists such as Frankie Ballard, Scotty McCreery and Jake Owen will tee off at TPC Las Vegas.
If a day on the links isn't your speed, and you just want to listen to country music on the Strip, you want to be at The Linq April 4-5. Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban headline Party For A Cause, the special, two-day outdoor music festival under the lights of the High Roller, the newest Las Vegas attraction and the world's largest observation wheel. The second annual festival will have multiple stages, with Rascal Flatts on Friday night and Urban on Saturday. The lineup also includes Joe Nichols, Jerrod Niemann, Chris Young and the Cadillac Three. The party supports Outnumber Live, dedicated to fighting hunger in local communities, and several military philanthropies.
Party For A Cause attendees will also get the chance to see exhibitions by champion bucking bulls, shop in the ACM Expo Marketplace and watch ACM Awards show co-host Luke Bryan test his bow hunting skills at the ACM & Cabela's Great Outdoor Archery Event Saturday morning.
Cowboy and Angels crooner, Dustin Lynch, tells us that the artists are just as excited for the festival as the fans. "It's a big ol' hang. We eat the buffet of food, play songs and get to catch up. It's not only a party out in front of the stage but also in the back and sides of it," he jokes.
Besides getting to see your favorite superstars up-close-and-personal, fans will have the chance to give back by attending any of the additional charity events benefiting organizations such as St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Feeding America, Folds of Honor, Wounded Warrior Project, Feed the Children, Opportunity Village and more.
For Lindsay Ell, rising country star and one of CMT's Next Women of Country, performing concert benefits like the All-Star Guitar Pull for St. Jude's is one of the great joys of her career. "As musicians, we have amazing platforms and can help people on a bigger level," she says. "With benefit concerts, there's good karma and energy all around. Helping kids is near and dear to my heart and it's wonderful that we have the opportunity to do so."
As country music fans themselves, the artists also look forward to watching each other perform. "Rarely do I get to see my friends and idols," says Lynch, who will be performing at the All-Star Guitar Pull. "I'll bounce around to different concerts and watch, dance and learn. I'll be slinking through the crowd and nobody will know I'm there," he cracks. "But I'll be having fun!"
Of course, a weekend in Vegas would not be complete without a party. Fans can catch the LoCash Cowboys performing Friday and Saturday night downtown at the Fremont Street Experience alongside emerging country artists. Fans should also keep their eyes peeled, as our sources tell us many of the country artists will take advantage of their five-day spree to experience all that Vegas has to offer. Lynch tells us this year's goal is to have a good run at the craps tables. "We'll see if I can get lucky."