Strait Country’s Kevin Sterner has played guitar since age 9.

Courtesy of Kevin Sterner

Strait Country will perform a tribute to the music of country music’s living legend, George Strait, Saturday evening at Tucson’s Vail Theatre of the Arts, 10701 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way .

Kevin Sterner, the lead singer of Strait Country, loved country music even as a child. He started playing the guitar at age 9 when his father gave him an old, beat-up guitar and told him that if learned to play it, he could have a new one.

Young Kevin practiced until he could play one song well enough to get the new guitar. He continued improving over the years and has played music as a part-time job since he graduated from Canyon del Oro High School in 1976.

After high school, Sterner moved to San Diego, where he spent four years playing in rock bands and then returned to Tucson and got a day job.

He continued performing rock music on the weekends until he heard then-newcomer Strait on the radio. Sterner loved Strait’s fresh, upbeat sound, and it was just what he needed to bring him back to playing country music, where his heart had always been.

Although he had played music for so many years, Sterner never really considered himself a singer. Then one day the lead singer of his band, Tequila Rose, quit, and Sterner had to fill the void. Before long, he was wearing pressed Wranglers, a Western shirt and a cowboy hat when he performed. Not only did he look the part, but his voice bears a striking resemblance to George Strait’s.

In November 2009, Rich Brennion, longtime guitarist with the Gaslight Theatre band, called Sterner saying he wanted to put together a George Strait tribute band to play at the Gaslight.

In addition to performing at the Gaslight a few times a year, Strait Country has played at a variety of theaters and casinos around the state, including a prior performance at the Vail Theatre of the Arts in August 2011. It has been one of the theater’s most-requested return acts.

Accompanying Sterner are Brennion on pedal steel guitar, Bill Emrie on fiddle, Steve Wendling on bass and harmony vocals, Dennis Van Vactor on keyboards, and Ralph Gilmore on drums and harmony vocals.

The concert will showcase Strait’s hits as well as some of his lesser-known songs.