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Melissa Etheridge, country superstars take center stage at area casinos

Melissa Etheridge performs during the Festival d’ete de Quebec on Thursday, July 6, 2017, in Quebec City, Canada. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Melissa Etheridge performs during the Festival d’ete de Quebec on Thursday, July 6, 2017, in Quebec City, Canada. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP) Amy Harris/Invision/AP

The Lake Tahoe entertainment scene this week is one of the strongest of the summer with one ground-breaking songstress and three country gentlemen at the top of their game.

Melissa Etheridge is celebrating the 25th anniversary of her album “Yes I Am,” a forthright declaration, an affirmation of identity that has carried through her career, all the way to 2014’s “This Is M.E.” The performer has always been more than her music, although that part is hardly to be sneezed at (“Come to My Window,” “I’m the Only One”). She is openly gay, has been very active in LGBTQ causes and she interweaves personal issues seamlessly in her songs and performances.

That most famously happened in 2005 when she appeared at the Grammy Awards bald-headed while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She gave a stunning performance of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and her fearlessness inspired a multitude of women to deal with their illnesses. That show also inspired India.Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair.”

Melissa Etheridge sings at the MontBleu Friday night in a concert that probably will include songs from her latest album, 2016’s “Memphis Rock and Roll.” (8 p.m.; $35-$55; Ticketmaster)

The Lake Tahoe Summer Outdoor Concert Series at Harveys has three country powerhouses in a row:

Keith Urban will appear two nights, Saturday and Sunday, the New Zealand native now boasting 37 charted singles with 15 of them going to the top. This past year he recorded a single, “Female,” in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal (with wife Nicole Kidman on background vocals), a lead off to his latest album “Graffiti U,” which also has singles “Parallel Lines” and “Coming Home.” Listen also for a wonderful touch of Merle Haggard’s moving “Mama Tried.” (7 p.m.; $59.50-$139.50; Ticketmaster or apeconcerts.org)

Wednesday, it’s Luke Bryan who can get close to Urban’s numbers – he has 14 No. 1 songs. His 2017 “What Makes You Country” went to the top of the album charts, of course, and includes optimism (“Most People Are Good”) and wicked wit (“Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset”). (7 p.m.; $69.50-$149.50)

Chris Stapleton comes in next Thursday, arriving soon after the release of “From a Room: Volume 2.” Stapleton is hot right now, the recipient of five Grammy Awards, seven Academy of Country Music Awards and seven Country Music Association Awards. But all industry honors aside, there aren’t many out there who can match the power of his country soul vocals. For an added bonus, he’s bringing along country veteran Marty Stuart. (7 p.m.; $69.50-$149.50)

Elsewhere:

Gap Band founder Charlie Wilson plays Friday at Thunder Valley (7 p.m.; $44.95-$179.95; thundervalleyresort.com), followed Saturday by Jim Gaffigan and his “Fixer Upper Tour” (8 p.m.; $49.95-$99.95);

Jody Watley, who last year celebrated the 30th anniversary of her “Looking for a New Love” with its famous catch phrase “Hasta La Vista Baby,” is at Cache Creek Saturday (8 p.m.; $35-$55; cachecreek.com);

In Reno, the X Ambassadors have their casino debut Friday at the Silver Legacy (8 p.m.; $44.50-$54.50; silverlegacy.com); “I Love the 90s” brings Salt-N-Pepa, Coolio, Kid N Play and others to the Grand Sierra Friday (9 p.m.; $45-$145; grandsierraresort.com); and, also at the Grand Sierra, “Down” and “All Mixed Up” get dusted off for a much-anticipated concert by 311 Monday (8 p.m.; $39-$137).

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