Monday, Dec. 11, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Legendary country music outfit Alabama is back in Las Vegas this year to close out the annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, not an unusual appearance for the beloved band but a special one all the same. It’s the group’s first time performing at Wynn Las Vegas.
“We probably play out there every other year, and most of the time during rodeo week, but we are very excited to come to Wynn because we’ve known Steve for a long time and he’s been a fan of the band for a long time,” says bass player Teddy Gentry. “This is one of the classiest rooms in Vegas, and we’re looking forward to getting out there and enjoying the festivities.”
Encore Theater is the classy room in question, the 1,500-capacity space that’s recently hosted the likes of Harry Connick Jr., Tony Bennett and Diana Ross. Alabama has three concerts there this week, plenty of space to run through as many of its 43 No. 1 country singles as it can.
The venue isn’t the only reason these shows are significant. Founding member Jeff Cook, who writes, sings, and plays guitar and fiddle, went public earlier this year with his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, a challenge that has kept him from performing consistently. He’ll be onstage at Wynn this week, along with Gentry and singer/guitarist Randy Owen, putting all three longtime members together again.
“It’s like part of my life is missing when he’s not there,” says Gentry. “We’ve just all been together for so long. Musically, you try to fill in the pieces and keep going forward, but it’s never easy when you have to do it without someone who’s been beside you for 35 or 40 years.”
Alabama released its third Christmas album, “American Christmas,” in October and will definitely make merry during the Vegas shows. “We sure will,” Gentry says. “Putting together a Christmas album pretty much hinges on being able to write some new holiday songs or find some songs that are relevant and can stand the test of time. And I think the bar was set pretty high with the other [Alabama Christmas] albums. But once we wrote a couple—“Why Can’t Christmas Day Last All Year Long” is one my favorite things I’ve written—we had the confidence to cut that third album.”
Alabama performs at Encore Theater at 8 p.m. December 13, 15 and 16. For more information, visit wynnlasvegas.com.