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Style · July 21, 2013

McCoy gives “lights-out” concert at Fauquier fair

I’ve been to many shows here, and this was the best I’ve ever seen. He was incredible, so personable. He played so hard. He knocked the lights out.
— Midland resident Brigitte Morrow
Neal McCoy
• Age: 54. Born July 30, 1958, in Jacksonville, Texas, to a Filipina-American mother and Irish-American Father.

• Home: Longview, Texas.

• Family:
Wife Melinda, married in 1980; daughter Miki, 27; son, Christian, 19.

• Big break: In 1981, he won a talent contest and earn as spot as an opening act for Charley Pride, the first African-American country music star.

• First album: “At this Moment,” 1990, Atlantic Records.

• Number 1 hits: “No Doubt About It” and “Wink,” both in 1993. “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On” reach Number 10 in 1995.

• Albums:
10, with three platinums and one gold.

• Honors: TNN/Music City News Country Awards “Entertainer of the Year” in 1998 and ’99, TNN/Music City News Country Awards “Album of the Year” in 1997 and AMC/Home Depot Humanitarian Award in 2005.

• Website:
Story by Mark Trible
Photos by Lawrence Emerson

The concert ended with a bang.

Country music star Neal McCoy had the crowd of more than 1,000 eating from his hand just 10 minutes after taking the stage Saturday night at the Fauquier County Fair.

After an hour and 16 minutes, Mr. McCoy said, “I’ve played a lot of festivals for 30 to 40 thousand people, and I’d rather play county fairs for the rest of my life.”

As he finished that sentence, the big bang put out the lights. A transformer blew just after the singer and his tight, five-piece band rocked the crowd with “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On,” which rose to Number 10 on the Billboard Country chart in 2005.

Half the fairgrounds went dark. Befuddled, the crowd stayed glued to the Ben Gravett Pavilion seats where Mr. McCoy made them feel so comfortable.

He did it early in the show, playfully teasing children in front of the stage.

Then, he invited Iraq War veteran Patrick Hall, serving with the U.S. Army Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery, to play drums during “Wink,” his 1994 chart-topping single.

Later, Mr. McCoy bounded to the back of the crowd and found a perch next to a third-grader to sing another Number 1 tune, “No Doubt About It.”

He poked fun at himself and modern music. He praised “good old country folks” and small-town virtues.

“We’re pretty lucky to do what we get to do,” the 54-year-old Jacksonville, Texas, native said last week in a phone interview. “When people leave our show, we hope they’re smiling.

“Some people take the attitude of, ‘You’re coming to see me play, and I’m gonna play my music.’ But I take the attitude that we’re gonna have a good time. We want you to like us. If you don’t, it’s your fault – not mine.”

The crowd had no fault and found none on a steamy Saturday night just east of Warrenton.

“I think he was great,” Cindy Shipe of Warrenton said. “He plays some of the older songs, and he gets all the kids out there, too.”

Before he took the stage, Mr. McCoy told DJs from Fredericksburg’s 93.3 WFLS radio station: “Us old people gotta stick together; it’s a young man’s game now.”

The trim, 6-foot-1 singer entertained like a young man, performing familiar favorites from The Commodores, Kool and the Gang, Tom Petty and many others.

Billed as a country act – his Wrangler jeans and cowboy hat proved that – Mr. McCoy brought something for everyone.

“I’ve been to many shows here, and this was the best I’ve ever seen,” Midland resident Brigitte Morrow said. “He was incredible, so personable. He played so hard. He knocked the lights out.”

Les Martines, the entertainer’s road manager for more than 23 years, said crowd reaction mirrors the man.

“He’s a great boss and he runs a good organization,” Mr. Martines said. “Great people are here and that makes all the difference in the world.”

Over more than two decades, they’ve confronted plenty of challenges.

“We have had power failures before, but I can say that’s a first. It sounded like a cue,” Mr. Martines said.

Bassist Mo Levone watched the fair’s Saturday night fireworks as others fumbled to figure out a plan.

The 40-year-old California native – in his second year with Mr. McCoy – pointed to his boss’ “musicianship” as a perk of the job.

He also revealed a secret.

“We don’t even use a set list,” Mr. Levone said. “Sometimes, he even calls out songs we’ve never rehearsed.

“What you see onstage with a lot of people is different than off-stage. But with Neal, his personality onstage is his personality.”

The band played in Hiawassee, Ga., on Thursday night. Sunday, they would entertain in Morristown, Ohio. The band’s tour of small town America requires a lot of travel.

“The older I get, it gets a little tough,” Mr. McCoy said. “We played a festival in Wisconsin and I banged my knee. When I was younger, that wouldn’t be anything. But it still hurts.

“All I gotta be good for is for an hour or an hour and a half and look young, and then I can get back to the bus and regroup. I like to sing, and I’ve had a little success and people come to see me because of my singing. I’m a people person and I love being around people.”

After the crowd stood, clapped and sang through Saturday’s show, nobody cared that the 76-minute concert ended just a bit early.

“He was definitely worth it, he was phenomenal,” said Patty Leonard, one of the fair’s directors. “What made him so appealing is he’s a real person. He just looks like he loves life.”

The road crew waited for lights to come back on. Any attempt to pack up in the dark would’ve proved futile.

Generators buzzed loudly near Mr. McCoy’s two mammoth tour buses. A long way from Hiawassee, the Billboard top-10 and his Texas home, the Filipino-Irish American lived up to his billing as the headliner.

Happy people after a premature end normally suggest bad things for an entertainer. In Saturday’s case, it meant the crowd didn’t need another song to get its money’s worth.
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Uh....No · July 22, 2013 at 8:51 am
This was a big Uh...YES!

For those that did not come out from the heat you missed the best concert at the County Fair to date bar none!

Great show, great band, great entertainer and a real person and an outstanding human being, Neal McCoy!

Have him back again next year as far as I am concerned!

Best show I've seen at the Fauquier Fair!!!
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