Erik Kabik / ErikKabik.com
Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016 | 3:33 p.m.
After sold-out runs by rock veterans from Ozzy Osbourne to Alice Cooper, you’d expect the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel to continue its hallowed history of rock and roll. So country music? That’s a horse of a different color.
But that’s exactly what’s happened for country hit-makers Rascal Flatts. The trio is back tonight for a second nine-show residency on the heels of last year’s “Vegas Riot!” run when they became the first country act in the hotel’s history to hold down the Joint.
Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney, with longtime drummer Jim Riley and one new instrumentalist, are performing their new show “Rhythm & Roots” featuring hits of their 15-year catalog. They’ve been working on the show for three months. Their guest is Barrett Baber, who wowed judges on NBC’s “The Voice” and placed third on Season 9.
Jay shared what’s in store for the band’s second residency in a news release: “We’ve put together a show that is tailored specifically for this venue. It’s going to focus more on the three of us this year and our music and how we got to where we are.
“We are going to take you on a nice little musical history journey ride with us. We’ve got some surprises that we don’t want to give away, but we’re going to pay homage to some of our heroes and some of the people who have influenced us over the years.”
When they were last at the Joint, rockers Steven Tyler and Vince Neil were among those who sat in with Rascal Flatts. They’re expecting the same kind of reciprocal star-swap this go-round and have already promised zany props comic Carrot Top that they will visit his Luxor headliner show.
The country stars are unabashed in their love of Las Vegas, saying it was a welcome change of pace and break from the rigors of touring. “The whole thing with the Hard Rock was a surprise, and it turned out to be a wonderful experience,” said Jay.
“We’re pumped to be back there again. It was a big responsibility because if we’d sucked, there would be no coming back. And we’ll be able to play a lot more golf this time.”
Hard Rock execs and our friends at AEG describe the first residency as a “home run, huge success.” Says John Nelson: “It changed things up, and Rascal Flatts proved the point that country music is here to stay in Las Vegas. They were on fire.
“You’re familiar with major artists like Celine, Mariah and Rod at the Colosseum loving residencies in place of the grind of touring, and now Brooks & Dunn with Reba McEntire at Caesars and Garth coming to T-Mobile Arena, you’re seeing country stars loving it, too.”
Rascal Flatts promise that this run of shows will be far different than the first. “They’re returning to their roots. It’s all the music they’ve loved through the years,” John added. The group, who start recording a 2016 Christmas album after the Hard Rock run, returns here for the 51st Academy of Country Music Awards on April 3 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
John added: “There’s no question country music is growing in popularity here in Las Vegas. The fans are solid, and the stars want to perform here. We’ve had lots of one-night concerts, but now they’re turning into residencies.”
Country star Chris Stapleton, who is nominated at the ACM Awards as New Artist of the Year and for “Traveler” as Album of the Year, is at the Joint on April 15. “Country music doesn’t need saving from anything,” he told the Nashville Scene. “It’s all just music. I like all kinds of music.”
On Tuesday, the group was welcomed back to the Hard Rock with a memorabilia case dedication. Chas Smith, vice president of entertainment at Hard Rock Hotel, introduced Gary, Joe Don and Jay to the crowd of fans. Chas explained why the Hard Rock and AEG Live decided to bring the guys back for a second residency.
“We are really excited to have one of the greatest bands ever come through our venue again,” he said. “Last year, we did a very successful run with these guys, and when we got a chance to actually talk about bringing them back to do another residency with us, they were excited, we were excited, and now we are making it happen.”
Chas then led a “3-2-1” countdown as the musicians pulled the black curtain off the wall to unveil the memorabilia display. The crowd cheered as the guys stood back, took a look at the case for the first time and explained each item.
The memorabilia display features outfits from opening night of the group’s first residency at the Joint, including Gary’s custom-made Diesel shirt, Robin’s Jean pants and vintage wallet chain; Joe Don’s Dsquared2 jacket, John Richmond shirt and Kooples pants; and Jay’s Vivienne Westwood suit, John Richmond shirt and Chrome Hearts wallet chain.
The display also showcases one of Gary’s microphones that has been around the world with Rascal Flatts, Joe Don’s guitar used on tour in the 2000s and a bass guitar that Jay used on the band’s first four albums.
Be sure to read the fabulous Q+A our esteemed Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy conducted with Joe Don posted earlier today. Our thanks to Erik Kabik for the unveiling photos. Rascal Flatts is at the Joint from tonight through Saturday, March 5.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
Arguably one the coolest joints in town, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino houses some of Vegas' best entertainment, restaurants and nightlife.
At Hard Rock, it's all about the music. From the light fixtures made out of drum cymbals and guitar shaped door handles to stage costumes and tools of the trade of legendary musicians displayed on the walls, the hotel screams rock and roll. The Hard Rock's Joint has hosted some the biggest names in music — from The Who to Bob Dylan to hometown heroes, The Killers.Aside from the music venues, the pool at the Hard Rock is one of its biggest attractions. Spread out over 4.7 acres, the pool area features swim-up blackjack, a bar and grill, private cabanas, a bevy of secluded nooks, a waterfall and an extensive live music venue with a dance floor. During the summer, the pool transforms into the Rehab club on Sunday afternoons.
The resident nightclub Body English fuses European elegance with a rock star bachelor pad and it often a hot spot for visiting celebs and popular DJs. Vintage rock memorabilia lines the walls at Wasted Space, Hard Rock's anti-club.
Restaurants at Hard Rock are just as hip as the rest of the casino. Pink Taco serves up Mexican dishes, as well as a Central American and Caribbean menu. Nobu, one of five worldwide Japanese-specialty restaurants from famed Nobu Matsuhisa, satisfies a different taste. For round-the-clock cuisine, Mr. Lucky's 24/7, is sure to ease your appetite even after a Vegas-all-nighter.