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December 21, 2014

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In Primm, country knockoffs fit right in

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Publicity Photo

Dave Hoover as Tim McGraw in “Country Superstars Tribute.”

If You Go

  • What: “Country Superstars Tribute”
  • When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays
  • Where: Whiskey Pete’s Showroom
  • Tickets: $21.95; (800) 386-7867, primmvalleyresorts.com.

Primm seems to have become its own entertainment universe featuring a galaxy of stars who perhaps don’t shine as brightly as they once did.

A sample of headliners who are coming to the Star of the Desert Arena at Buffalo Bill’s: Kool and the Gang, the Commodores, Frankie Valli, Stone Temple Pilots, Foreigner, Kenny G, B.B. King, Merle Haggard and Patti LaBelle.

Where there are such celebrities, can tribute artists be far away?

“Country Superstars Tribute” has landed in the 650-seat showroom at Whiskey Pete’s, just across the highway from Buffalo Bill’s. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays the “Country Superstars” entertain for a fraction of what it costs up the highway in Vegas or, in some cases, on the other side of Interstate 15.

The tribute show features a rotating lineup of artists performing as the likes of Kix Brooks (Leonard Wayne), Reba McEntire (Corrie Sachs), Garth Brooks (Eric York), Willie Nelson (Roy Hammock), Tim McGraw (Dave Hoover), Kenny Chesney (Brian Pop) and Charlie Daniels (Johnny Potash). Each show features four or five of the tribute artists backed by a live band.

“Folks who spend Friday and Saturday night at Whiskey Pete’s and attend a performance each night probably won’t see the same show,” says show creator Ronnie Keel, who portrays Ronnie Dunn.

Keel has a split entertainment personality — with one boot in the country world and the other in heavy metal. He’s the founder of the ’80s metal band Keel, which reunites from time to time. In January, the group plans to release an album, “The Right to Rock: 25th Anniversary Edition.” He also does background music for such TV shows as “The Simpsons,” “X Files” and “King of the Hill.”

But now he’s brought his tribute show to Primm after a two-year run at Fitzgeralds on Fremont Street. Keel doesn’t see Primm as a negative.

“Our motto is work hard, deliver a good product and get lucky,” Keel says. “We have landed on our feet in Primm. They’re in the entertainment business. They like to bring major national acts into that arena. They take entertainment really seriously, so we fit right in. A lot of shows were wrestling for that showroom (at Whiskey Pete’s) and they chose us because of what we can deliver in terms of family entertainment and the demographics.”

The target audience is anyone who wants to have fun and enjoys country music.

“This is family entertainment and we welcome everyone from 8 to 80,” Keel says.

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