#NFR16 Round 8 Notebook

 

Wrangler National Finals Rodeo daily schedule — Friday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10

 

By PATRICK EVERSON
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

TODAY

WRANGLER NFR 9-5

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8 a.m.: 30th Annual Spurs & Spikes Golf Tournament, Bali Hai Golf Club. 9 a.m. shotgun start. To purchase a team, call 719-528-4732.

8 a.m.-9 p.m.: World Series of Team Roping, South Point Arena and Equestrian Center. Free admission/open to the public.

 

9 a.m.: World of Rodeo Reunion, Gold Card Gatherings, The Orleans, Mardi Gras Ballroom. Registration 9-10 a.m.; Visitation 10-11 a.m.; Luncheon and Live Auction 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Presentations 12:30-1:30 p.m. and Visitation from 1:30-3 p.m. Tickets/information: Larry Jordan, 406-223-6503

9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Cowboys Christmas – It’s All Here/Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Expo, Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls. Free admission/open to the public.

Noon-1 p.m.: Outside the Barrel with Flint Rasmussen. Cowboy Christmas, Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls. Rodeo Live presented by RODEOHOUSTON. Free admission/open to the public.

Noon-2 p.m.: Wrangler NFR Autograph Session, Saddle Bronc Riders. Harrah’s, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill. Free admission/open to the public. First come/first served; contestants depart at 2 p.m.

1:15 p.m.-2 p.m.: Keepin’ it Country with Daryle Singletary. Cowboy Christmas, Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls. Rodeo Live presented by RODEOHOUSTON. Free admission/open to the public.

2 p.m.-4 p.m.: Boyd Gaming Chute-Out Rodeo, Orleans Arena. Tickets/more information: www.BoydChuteOut.com.

WRANGLER NFR IN ARENA

THOMAS & MACK CENTER

6:45 p.m.: Opening, Granger Smith; Anthem, Allie Burgett (National Anthem Open Division contest winner)

 

7 p.m.: Ninth go-round.

WRANGLER NFR AFTER DARK

6-6:30 p.m.: Wrangler NFR Countdown Show at MGM Grand. David Copperfield Theater. Free admission.

6 p.m.-10 p.m.: South Point Presents Ram Rodeo Tailgate Party. South Point Convention Center. Free admission.

6:30 p.m.-4 a.m.: The Mirage Presents Rodeo Vegas 2016, the official Wrangler NFR After-Party of the PRCA. The Mirage Race and Sports Book. Free admission/free concerts nightly. More information: www.Mirage.com/NFR.

8 p.m.-2 a.m.: MGM Grand Gold Buckle Zone. MGM Grand Convention Center. Live entertainment featuring free concerts nightly. Free admission. More information: www.mgmgrand.com/NFR.

9 p.m.-2 a.m.: The Legendary Buck’N Ball. The Orleans Hotel and Casino, Mardi Gras Ballroom. Live country music, two-step dancing and drink specials. Free admission. More information: www.BoydEvents.com/WNFR

10:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.: National Finals Tonight Show hosted by Don Gay, Joe Beaver & Dan Miller. The Orleans Showroom. Re-cap the NFR with the best crew in town and win prizes nightly. Free admission. More information: www.BoydEvents.com/WNFR.

11 p.m.: Wrangler NFR Go Round Buckle Presentations hosted by Flint Rasmussen & Randy Corley. South Point Showroom. Free admission. Free concerts to follow each night. Aaron Watson (Dec. 1-4); Sierra Black (Dec. 5-6); Cody Johnson (Dec. 7-10).

CONCERTS

— Trace Adkins, Golden Nugget, The Grand. 866-946-5336/goldennugget.com.

— Gary Allan, Hard Rock Hotel, The Joint. 800-473-7625/hardrockhotel.com.

— Kelsea Ballerini with Cam, The Orleans Showroom. 702-284-7777/boydgamingevents.com.

— Craig Wayne Boyd, MGM Grand Gold Buckle Zone. 877-880-0880 or mgmgrand.com/NFR

— Rodney Carrington, MGM Grand, David Copperfield Theatre. 877-880-0880/mgmgrand.com

— Cody Johnson, South Point Casino. 866-791-7626/southpointcasino.com.

— Toby Keith, MGM Grand Garden Arena. 877-880-0880 or mgmgrand.com/entertainment

— Brandon Lay and Granger Smith, The Mirage Race & Sports Book. 800-374-9000 or mirage.com/NFR.

— Justin Moore, The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. 877-893-2003/cosmopolitanlasvegas.com

— Maxwell and Mary J. Blige, T-Mobile Arena. 702-692-1600/t-mobilearena.com.

— Reba, Brooks & Dunn, The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. 888-929-7849/caesarspalace.com.

— Ron White, The Mirage, Terry Fator Theatre. 800-963-9634/mirage.com.

— Sam Riddle, The Veil Pavilion at Silverton. 702-263-7777/silvertoncasino.com.

— Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band, Gilley’s at Treasure Island. treasureisland.com.

SATURDAY

WRANGLER NFR 9-5

8-10 a.m.: World of Rodeo Reunion, Gold Card Gatherings, The Orleans. Breakfast at Courtyard Café. Tickets/information: Larry Jordan, 406-223-6503.

8 a.m.-9 p.m.: World Series of Team Roping, South Point Arena and Equestrian Center. Free admission/open to the public.

9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Cowboys Christmas – It’s All Here/Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Expo, Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls. Free admission/open to the public.

Noon-1 p.m.: Outside the Barrel with Flint Rasmussen. Cowboy Christmas, Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls. Rodeo Live presented by RODEOHOUSTON. Free admission/open to the public.

1:15 p.m.-2 p.m.: Keepin’ it Country with Daryle Singletary. Cowboy Christmas, Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls. Rodeo Live presented by RODEOHOUSTON. Free admission/open to the public.

2 p.m.-4 p.m.: Boyd Gaming Chute-Out Rodeo, Orleans Arena. Tickets/more information: www.BoydChuteOut.com.

WRANGLER NFR IN ARENA

THOMAS & MACK CENTER

6:45 p.m.: Opening, Gold Night; Anthem, Andy Griggs

7 p.m.: 10th go-round.

WRANGLER NFR AFTER DARK

6-6:30 p.m.: Wrangler NFR Countdown Show at MGM Grand. David Copperfield Theater. Free admission.

6 p.m.-10 p.m.: South Point Presents Ram Rodeo Tailgate Party. South Point Convention Center. Free admission.

6:30 p.m.-4 a.m.: The Mirage Presents Rodeo Vegas 2016, the official Wrangler NFR After-Party of the PRCA. The Mirage Race and Sports Book. Free admission/free concerts nightly. More information: www.Mirage.com/NFR.

8 p.m.-2 a.m.: MGM Grand Gold Buckle Zone. MGM Grand Convention Center. Live entertainment featuring free concerts nightly. Free admission. More information: www.mgmgrand.com/NFR.

9 p.m.-2 a.m.: The Legendary Buck’N Ball. The Orleans Hotel and Casino, Mardi Gras Ballroom. Live country music, two-step dancing and drink specials. Free admission. More information: www.BoydEvents.com/WNFR

10:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.: National Finals Tonight Show hosted by Don Gay, Joe Beaver & Dan Miller. The Orleans Showroom. Re-cap the NFR with the best crew in town and win prizes nightly. Free admission. More information: www.BoydEvents.com/WNFR.

11 p.m.: Wrangler NFR Go Round Buckle Presentations hosted by Flint Rasmussen & Randy Corley. South Point Showroom. Free admission. Free concerts to follow each night. Aaron Watson (Dec. 1-4); Sierra Black (Dec. 5-6); Cody Johnson (Dec. 7-10).

CONCERTS

— Gary Allan, Hard Rock Hotel, The Joint. 800-473-7625/hardrockhotel.com.

— Kelsea Ballerini with Cam, The Orleans Showroom. 702-284-7777/boydgamingevents.com

— Rodney Carrington, MGM Grand, David Copperfield Theatre. 877-880-0880/mgmgrand.com.

— Cody Johnson, South Point Casino. 866-791-7626/southpointcasino.com.

— Tim McGraw, MGM Grand Garden Arena. 877-880-0880/mgmgrand.com.

— Eric Paslay, MGM Grand Gold Buckle Zone. 877-880-0880 or mgmgrand.com/NFR

— Daryle Singletary, The Mirage Race & Sports Book. 800-374-9000 or mirage.com/NFR.

— Reba, Brooks & Dunn, The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. 888-929-7849/caesarspalace.com.

— Ron White, The Mirage, Terry Fator Theatre. 800-963-9634/mirage.com.

— Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band, Gilley’s at Treasure Island. treasureisland.com.

Note: For the most up-to-date WNFR schedule, download the NFR App to your iPhone or Android device.

NFR set for exciting final 2 nights

 

Orin Larsen rides Full Baggage during the bareback riding competition at the National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal

 

By BETSY HELFAND
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Titles remain up for grabs

Day Eight of the National Finals Rodeo came and went with no events sealed up, setting up for an exciting final two days.

Tim O’Connell was the only competitor with a chance to clinch Thursday, but the bareback rider finished in a tie for third.

O’Connell will have another chance to clinch Friday. Meanwhile, Orin Larsen, who hails from Manitoba, took first in bareback riding on Canada Night at the rodeo.

“I’ve wanted to do better in the early rounds at both of the NFRs I’ve been do, but to win on Canada Night is the icing on the cake,” Larsen said.

Meanwhile, Clayton Hass, who sits third in the all-around, finished first in the steer wrestling go-round.

Dustin Bird and Russell Cardoza won the team roping go-round and sit first and second, respectively, in the all-around standings. Cardoza is behind his partner in money earned, meaning he cannot win the all-around.

“I’d love to win the all-around title, but I’d rather win the team roping because then Dustin will win the all-around. The team roping gold buckle is the goal,” Cardoza said.

Shane Hanchey took first in tie-down roping at 6.80 seconds, while Cody Wright beat out the field of 15, including two of his sons, two of his brothers and his brother-in-law to win the eighth saddle bronc riding go-round.

Amberleigh Moore turned in the fastest time in the barrel racing go-round at 13.37 seconds, while Tyler Smith turned in an 89.0 to win the bull riding go-round.

Contact Betsy Helfand at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.

Ned LeDoux works with deceased dad’s words to craft new music

Ned LeDoux released his debut EP, "Forever a Cowboy," last week in Las Vegas, nicely tying it in to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Chris LeDoux, Ned's father, was a world champion bareback rider and country music standout. Chris won the world bareback title in 1976, so Ned's album release comes on the 40th anniversary of that achievement. (Special to the Las Vegas Review-Journal)

 

By PATRICK EVERSON
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Life is full of interesting coincidences, things that line up even if we never intended them to do so. Such is the case this week for Ned LeDoux, son of rodeo star and later country music standout Chris LeDoux.

Back in 1976, Chris was putting the final touches on his lone world championship as a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association competitor. The bareback bronc rider — who often worked on his music between competitions — clinched the crown at the National Finals Rodeo, held in Oklahoma City, nine years before the event moved to Las Vegas.

On March 9, 2005, LeDoux died of cancer at the age of 56, far too young, to be sure.

Two years ago, Peggy LeDoux found a stack of old papers penned by her husband of 33 years. The writings included some poetry and what appeared to be the beginnings of songs. Peggy sent them to Mark Sissel, who played guitar in Chris’ band Western Underground. Sissel then emailed some of the papers to Ned, one of Chris and Peggy’s five children and a musician himself.

The papers created the prospect for a very interesting project: father and son co-writing songs, long after the father had loosed his earthly bonds.

It took a full two years to bring that project to fruition, but the five-song EP dropped on Dec. 2, the second day of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo — and the 40th anniversary of Chris’ gold-buckle season. You couldn’t write a script or a song better than that.

“It was kind of a last-minute deal, but since my EP was coming out, what better place to connect it to than the NFR?” Ned says. “I didn’t really plan it that way, it just happened to fall at the same time as the NFR. It’s kind of funny how things fall into place. My very first recording project, then finding out it’s the 40th anniversary of my dad’s bareback title. It’s amazing how time has flown by.”

And it’s amazing to listen to Ned talk about how this all came together.

After getting that email from Sissel, Ned started working on songs from the writings. Then Mac McAnally, who produced Chris’ last two studio records, got wind of the project.

“He found out and invited me out to Nashville,” says Ned, who lives near Manhattan, Kansas, now but grew up in Kaycee, Wyoming. “There wasn’t much to it, only two or three lines, but that was all we needed.”

That evolved into “We Ain’t Got It All,” the first song on the EP. Ned, a drummer who played in his dad’s band Western Underground from 1998 to 2005, was so enthralled with the songwriting experience that he pressed on.

“That was the first song I’d ever written, but I just fell in love with it,” Ned says. “It all stemmed from writing that song with Mac. I was just inspired from Mac to continue writing, and eventually we had enough songs to put on an EP. I wrote four of the five songs on there.”

Well, there was a little co-writing going on there, thanks to dad’s papers. The EP itself is called “Forever a Cowboy,” and the title track — No. 3 on the release — is also a co-write between son and father.

 

“That song for sure is two lines of my dad’s, and I wrote the rest,” Ned says. “It’s a cowboy song, writing about the West. A couple lines I picked out from one of dad’s ideas. I went back through poems dad had written, and found these two lines that worked perfectly.”

Here’s how he took those two lines and turned them into four:

“He works by the seasons

Not a clock on the wall

Stackin’ hay in the summer

Shippin’ calves in the fall.”

And that evolved into a whole song. Chris’ ties to Western culture — especially his extensive rodeo background — certainly wove their way into the fabric of the new songs.

“Oh for sure, that’s where it all came from, or where it all started. He rodeoed a long time,” Ned says, noting Chris lasted 10 years on the pro rodeo circuit, from 1970 to 1980, back when sports medicine was just a shadow of what it is today. “And along the way, he started writing songs about the experiences of rodeo and traveling. At the time, I don’t think there were a whole lot of people writing songs about rodeo life, so that made him unique.”

Chris revealed the hard truths of rodeo, truths that are still relevant to this day. There are no contracts, no guarantees. Night in and night out, it’s a merit-based system. You only cash a check if you perform well enough to do so.

“Rodeo isn’t a really glamorous life. If you don’t make your ride, you’re not gonna make money, you’re not gonna eat,” Ned says. “I told someone that it was almost fair warning that if you want to get into rodeo, it could be glamorous, but you’re gonna have some falls.”

Chris’ songwriting proficiency ultimately drew him some fans on the rodeo road, which helped supplement his income after those lean nights, weeks or years. Chris’ dad deserved credit for that move.

“When dad started writing songs, my grandpa thought it would be a good idea for dad to start recording them, and selling them while he was out rodeoing,” Ned says. “So that’s what my dad started doing, selling 8-track tapes from the back of his truck.”

It reminded Ned of a stanza in Garth Brooks’ song, “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old),” released in 1989 as Brooks was on his way to mega-stardom.

“The competition’s getting younger

Tougher broncs, you know I can’t recall

The worn-out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women and bad booze

Seem to be the only friends I’ve left at all.”

When Garth Brooks is dropping your dad’s name, well, that shows what a strong impression Chris LeDoux made on Brooks — and on all of country music.

“All rodeo cowboys back in the ‘70s, and even today, that’s what they listen to – worn-out tapes,” Ned says. “I’m just looking to put cowboys back in country music.”

He’s certainly gotten the attention of the country music audience. His whirlwind few days in Las Vegas over the past week proved far more fruitful than he could have possibly expected, with sales taking off.

“The last few days have kind of run together,” says Ned, fresh off a redeye flight back to Kansas on Tuesday morning. “It was unbelievable. I gotta say a big thanks to the fans, because the debut of ‘Forever a Cowboy’ got all the way up to No. 9 on the iTunes country music chart. I don’t know how that stuff works, but my manager sent me a text and said, ‘You’re No. 9 on the country music chart.’ And I said, ‘I am not.’”

It was a typical “aw shucks” country response from a man humbled by the opportunity to co-write a song with his legendary dad. In a sense, to bring his dad back to life through music. And the fans were eager to hear and buy that finished product.

“They’re Chris LeDoux fans, but I guess they want to hear what I have to say, too,” Ned says. “I’m just tickled with the way people are receiving it. I guess they must like it. To be back at the NFR and go to town with a brand-new EP, it was the perfect place to debut it. And again, having it be the 40th anniversary of dad winning the bareback championship, it’s almost like it was meant to be. It wasn’t planned that way, I swear.”

Still, dad probably finds some poetic justice to it as he looks from above on what’s taken place with his son the past few days.

“Hopefully he’s smiling. He might be thinking, ‘You’re a better drummer than a singer.’ You know, just give me a little poke,” Ned says with a laugh. “But I’m enjoying the singing. I’ll definitely keep going forward. I fell in love with writing songs. I never thought I would, but I’ll definitely keep things moving along.”

All because mom stumbled onto a stack of aging papers.

“It’s a pretty neat deal that he didn’t throw that stuff away,” Ned says. “Maybe eventually he was gonna go back and try to finish it. Maybe it was just a thought in his head, and he had to write it down on paper. But he sure made a good decision.”

A good decision, a great coincidence, and the opportunity of a lifetime for Ned LeDoux to work with his father once again.