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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    He’s a real McCoy

    A weekend of fun, friends and country music begins tonight as Country Thunder 2010 invades Florence, Ariz. And what better way to kick the festivities into gear than with a lively performance by country music icon Neal McCoy?

     

    Headlining the first night’s performance series, the consummate performer certainly knows how to get a crowd going.

     

    Although he first emerged on the music scene as an R&B performer, McCoy soon switched over to the country music circuit. After landing a slot on tour with Charley Pride and serving as his opening act, McCoy signed to 16th Avenue Records in 1988 and produced his first single, “”That’s How Much I Love You.”” However, it wasn’t until the release of his third album, No Doubt About It in 1994 that McCoy truly broke out onto the country music scene. Released under Atlantic Records, the album delivered two No. 1 hits on the country chart, the album’s title track and “”Wink.”” 

     

    In the following years, McCoy released four other albums with Atlantic Records and another with Warner Bros. Records, earning him six more appearances on the Top 5. McCoy’s most recent hit single, “”Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On,”” was released on his own label, 903 Music, in 2005. 

     

    After more than 20 years after the release of his first single and 11 albums later, McCoy is still on the road, giving audiences an exciting and entertaining live show. And with no intention of slowing down, Florence is his next stop.

     

    During a phone interview, the country icon talked about his band’s long-running relationship with Country Thunder.

     

    So I’ve heard that this will be your 11th visit to the Country Thunder stage. 

    It’s been a bunch! I’m glad if it’s 11, that’s great. I don’t know how many I’ve been to. I’ve lost count, but I’m glad somebody likes us.

     

    What keeps you coming back to the Arizona-based festival?

    Well, golly! They keep paying me; that’s the best part. (Laughing) But I’ve been comin’ out to that area a long time. I signed my record deal in 1990 with Atlantic Records, and they came to a club I was playing at in Arizona and signed me to a record deal. And I’ve been working there before I got the record deal and ever since. Everybody’s really nice and a bunch of kind people around there and I’m just, shoot, excited that they keep having me back. Because at some of these festivals, they usually will have an act but won’t have ‘em back the next year because they don’t want everybody to get tired of ‘em. But it’s a real credit that people like us there, because they keep having us back.

     

    What songs do you think you are going to sing? Do you have a set play list that you perform?

    The thing about our show is that we just wing it. We just make up crap, but we are going to do the Neal McCoy songs that we’ve had as hits. But the people that have seen our show know that we’re liable to do anything from disco to big band. There’s just no tellin’ what we’re gonna do. We don’t really have a set list. But we’ll do the fun stuff.

     

    What do you love most about performing? You have been doing it for over 20 years now, correct?

    Oh yeah! Well, about 30 now! I just enjoy it. I enjoy people, and I like making people have a good time and making people smile. And this is the best way I know how to do it. I would like to think that just by meeting someone they will smile, just in talking to me, but this is the best way I can do it. A whole bunch at one time. Just entertain ‘em and make ‘em laugh.

     

    Do you have any memorable moments from past Country Thunder performances?

    Oh, gosh! Every one of ‘em is pretty good because those people at these huge festivals come out and just wanna have a good time. And for the hour or hour and 15 minutes that we get ‘em they’re excited about seeing a whole bunch of different acts out there. We wanna be the one they talk about when everybody’s gone, so we try to do some stupid things on stage or climb something. (Chuckling) They’re all good memories!

     

    So how do you feel about sharing the stage with so many other talented artists? Are you friends with many of the other performers?

    Yes! It’s funny because people think since we’re all in the country music business that we see each other all the time, but we really don’t. And I don’t see hardly any of them at all because I still live in Texas and a lot of musicians live in Nashville. There are a few that I have become friends with, but not that many. The fun part, I guess even the challenge of it, is because I know there will be a bunch of acts there, we want to leave with people talking about us. And I know with as much talent as is gonna be there this year, it’s gonna be a real challenge. We want them to say “”I saw so-and-so and they were good, but boy you should’ve seen Neal McCoy!”” That’s what I want ‘em to say.

     

    Do you think you are going to continue to perform for awhile? 

    I would like to think so, but we can only play for as long as people keep paying us and as long as people keep coming to see us. You know, I hope so. We haven’t gotten much radio airplay, and that’s the way you keep a lot of fans, just keepin’ hits on the radio. But we haven’t been lucky enough to do that lately. But we think our reputation as entertainers is really good, so people keep coming back to see us. But you never know how long they’ll keep doing that without a hit on the air.

     

    Are you working on anything new by chance?

    Yeah! Matter of fact, I just recorded a fantastic song a couple weeks ago called “”A New Mountain to Climb.”” It’s just a great message. I recorded it for a download in a book that I’m writing also called “”A New Mountain to Climb,”” with some great stories about some folks I’ve met, and some children that we’ve helped. We have a foundation here in East Texas my wife and I started fifteen years ago called the East Texas Angel Network to help children with life-threatening illnesses. We’ve been involved with a lot of those kids, and there are some great stories there and I just wanna get some of those stories out. I think people would enjoy hearing about ‘em, and that’s also what the song’s about. Hopefully it can give some folks some hope.

     

    Will we get to hear “”A New Mountain to Climb”” on Wednesday?

    Sometimes those crazy festivals don’t lend themselves to that type of song, but I think we’re gonna put it in there. I’ll just try to get everybody’s attention and make sure they listen, and hopefully they’ll get something out of it.

     

    Is there anything you hope audiences will take away from your show?

    We’re just out there workin’. We just want folks to come see us. We think that people who have seen us know what we’re about. We love entertaining people and puttin’ on a good show and havin’ fun with folks. But there are a lot of folks who haven’t seen us, and we just want ‘em to come take a chance and see our show. We think they’ll have about as much fun as they’ve ever had. 

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