Eastern Iowa country acts started chasing a neon rainbow Thursday April 26, in hopes of opening for Alan Jackson on June 9 in downtown Cedar Rapids. Nearly Elvis, Lonesome Road and Loaded kicked off Round 1 of KHAK’s Battle of the Bands at Hazzard County Saloon. Each act played a 15-minute, three-song set before a small, but amped up crowd, as well as judges Casey Prince, Theatre Cedar Rapids’ executive director; Lovar Davis Kidd from MovMNT Dance Company in Cedar Rapids; and Diana Nollen, Arts and Entertainment reporter for The Gazette-KCRG-TV9. Competition continues at 7 p.m. May 3, 2012, as Copper Moon, Midwest Express, Stringz of Time, Logan Peck, 8 Seconds and Smokin’ Guns take to the Hazzard County stage. The event is free and open to the public. The four acts with the highest scores will move on to the finals at 7 p.m. May 10 at Hazzard County. The winner will perform a 20-minute set at 1 p.m. June 9 to launch KHAK’s 50th Birthday Bash. The daylong, rain or shine outdoor celebration features Joe Nichols, Phil Vassar, Steve Holy, Craig Campbell and headliner Alan Jackson at 8 p.m. The stage will be set up in front of the Alliant Energy Tower, with spectators in the parking lot, May’s Island and the Second and Third avenue bridges. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. on the corner First Street SW and Second Avenue. Birthday Bash tickets are $40 general admission May 1 to June 8 and $50 day of show; $55 Gold Circle; and $125 for VIP seating. - By Diana Nollen