Country music star and Jacksonville native Neal McCoy is stoked about being the headliner for East Texas Broadcasting’s free Listener Appreciation Concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 25, at Hopkins County Regional Civic Center.
“We’re excited about being in Sulphur Springs,” the long-time Longview resident said in a phone interview Thursday. “We run the roads a lot. We don’t get to work much at home – and anywhere this close to Longview is home.”
According to Moose Morgan, operations manager for several stations in the ETB family, the feeling is mutual.
“We are so happy to be able to bring this show to our listeners,” Morgan said in an e-mail Friday. “It’s those listeners that make us a success. We appreciate their support and wanted to say thank you by bringing some quality entertainment to the area. Rich O’Toole represents the red dirt music sound of the Texas Music Chart and Neal McCoy is what country music is all about. Neal is a great fit for us as he is an East Texan. We hope the listeners enjoy this concert and we are proud to bring the show to Hopkins County.”
McCoy said although he has a lot of really loyal fans in East Texas, “There are a lot of folks out there who haven’t seen us. We hope they’ll come out and see the show.”
McCoy has released 34 singles, including the #1 hits, “No Doubt About It” and “Wink” from his 1992 platinum album, “No Doubt About It.” His most recent hit was “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On” in 2005.
McCoy doesn’t write songs or play an instrument – he concentrates on entertaining. This year, he and his band have booked a lot of gigs in Branson, Missouri. While a lot of artists don’t like a Branson-style audience because the crowd doesn’t scream and holler, McCoy says the venues there suit him just fine.
“Everyone wants to be entertained,” he explained, “and when you go about it the right way, you’ll have people making a lot of noise before the end of the show.”
McCoy and his band are also different from other groups on tour in that they don’t follow a set list.
“We wing everything,” he said with a laugh. “We’ve been together a long time, so not having a set list keeps our heads in the game.”
McCoy says keeping the audience in the game is important, too, so he never does a whole show of “Neal McCoy music.”
“That’s the last thing I want to do and the last thing people want to hear,” he said. “Expect everything from disco to Sinatra. You don’t ever know what’s coming next. It’s really fun.”
Fun is an important concept in McCoy’s life. Just look at his 1,000-watt smile or listen to his music. He rarely sings the blues.
“I enjoy life,” he said. “I’m a pretty happy guy.”
When he does have those rare down times, he says his family are the ones who have to put up with him.
“They don’t deserve it, but they put up with me and understand it,” he said.
When his career began to take off, McCoy had some choices to make.
“I could have moved to Nashville and tried to get hot,” he explained. “Luckily, we got a little hot without having to move there. When we did get hot, I could have moved there to try to get hotter. I may have bettered my career – maybe or maybe not – but I would have taken a risk on my family. I thought it was more worth it to keep my family happy here and take a little more risk on my career.”
Obviously, McCoy did the right thing. Even though he’s enjoyed a long and successful run in the music business, fame and fortune haven’t gone to his head. He’s still married to the woman who captured his heart nearly 30 years ago. He’s as punch of his two kids. He still lives in East Texas – and since 1995, McCoy has been the driving force behind The East Texas Angel Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families.
“I had done benefits all across the United States,” McCoy explained. “We would go in, do the show and go home.”
After the birth of his son – eight years younger than his sister and both of them “very healthy” – McCoy decided to find out the specifices of the charity work he did.
“We did a benefit for a kid named Matt Barney from Tombstone, Arizona,” he said. “He was just nine years old and he had bone marrow cancer. I got to meet him and we developed a relationship.”
When McCoy was shooting the video for “Wink,” in Cerrilos, New Mexico, he invited Matt and his sister to the shoot. Although Matt has since passed away, the circumstances of his illness stayed with McCoy and his wife, Melinda.
“We thought, ‘a lot of people are in this situation and struggle when they find out their child is so sick,’” said McCoy. “We just wanted to help. That’s why we started the East Texas Angel Network.”
The foundation has endured, despite two years of economic hard times. McCoy says he believes people continue support it because all of the money raised remains in East Texas.
“When people find out that their money stays right here in East Texas, then they really come around,” McCoy explained.
McCoy doesn’t limit his charity work to his foundation. He also gives his time to USO tours and the Ronald McDonald House foundation and gives credit to people who are out there every day doing their share to help.
“We do what we can,” he said. “But, there are a lot of people doing good things. They just don’t get patted on the back for it. When someone with a little name recognition does something, more people find out about it, but there are a lot of people everywhere that do good stuff and don’t get recognition for it.”
Houston singer/songwriter Rich O’Toole will open the show Thursday at the Civic Center.************************
For more information about Neal McCoy, log on to:
For more information on the East Texas Angel Network, log on to:
Editor’s note: I admire Neal McCoy. In addition to being a tried and true family man, I appreciate the work he’s done with the East Texas Angel Network. Having admitted my fondness for him, let me say this – I talk to a lot of artists and none of them is more honest, down-to-earth, funny or as nice as Neal McCoy. The joy and passion he has for his family, foundation and music are palpable – even through a long-distance telephone line.
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