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Published: Thursday, 7/24/2008

Neal McCoy s serious about his music, and having fun

BY BRIAN DUGGER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Neal McCoy will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Lucas County Fair on the grounds of the Lucas County Recreation Center on Key Street in Maumee. Tickets are $25, which covers admission to the fair. For information, go to www.lucascountyfair.com or call 419-893-2127. Tomorrow night, The Charlie Daniels Band will be performing at 8 p.m. at the fair. Tickets are also $25.
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<img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/weblink_icon.gif> <font color=red> <b>THIN SLICES</font color=red></b>: <a href=" /apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080724/ART16/16864601" target="_blank "><b>NBC's Heroes, celebrities and hot mics, Neal McCoy</b></a>

Neal McCoy will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Lucas County Fair on the grounds of the Lucas County Recreation Center on Key Street in Maumee. Tickets are $25, which covers admission to the fair. For information, go to www.lucascountyfair.com or call 419-893-2127. Tomorrow night, The Charlie Daniels Band will be performing at 8 p.m. at the fair. Tickets are also $25. <br> <br> <img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/weblink_icon.gif> <font color=red> <b>THIN SLICES</font color=red></b>: <a href=" /apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080724/ART16/16864601" target="_blank "><b>NBC's Heroes, celebrities and hot mics, Neal McCoy</b></a>
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FORT LORAMIE, Ohio If you ve been looking for Neal McCoy and haven t been able to find him, you haven t been looking hard enough because he s where he s always been: on the road.

Oh yeah, we stay out here on the road to keep them from repossessing our bus, he says with one of those big McCoy smiles.

He s aboard that bus, backstage at Country Concert in Fort Loramie, Ohio earlier this month, one of the hundreds of festivals he plays each year. Saturday night, he ll be on stage at the Lucas Country Fair. Despite not having a major hit since Billy s Got His Beer Goggles On in 2005, McCoy s still one of country music s top concert attractions. He s part comic, part singer, and sometimes part Spider-Man. He s been known to climb whatever he can find near a stage.

Oh no, he chuckles. I don t climb anything anymore. I m too old for that.

Hard to believe, but on July 30, McCoy turns 50. Still, he s putting one over on you when he says he s too old. His show hasn t slowed down since he got a record deal 20 years ago. He works out every day with his stair climber, which he hauls aboard his bus, and push-up bars. More than anything, he keeps fit by bounding around the stage every night.

I don t have the same desire to get to the shows, but I still have the same desire to be on stage, he says. I still think I m as good as anyone, and I m going to work harder. I want to be good every night. To be a good performer, you need to be able to deliver your personality to the stage, and I try to be that same person on stage as I am off.

By his own admission, sometimes people forget he can sing because they get caught up in his stage antics, but he has produced three platinum albums containing nine Top 10 hits and five No. 1 singles. Last month, he released The Very Best of Neal McCoy, which contains 19 songs, including his biggest hits Wink, The Shake, No Doubt About It, For a Change, and They re Playing Our Song. It also includes his current single, Rednecktified.

I ve released a lot of good ones that radio won t play. I figured I d release a bad one to see if radio will play it a little reverse psychology, he says with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. Rednecktified, about growing up in Texas, is already a fan-favorite at his shows.

Although country radio hasn t shown him much love lately, it hasn t stopped McCoy from spreading his love around. He has received numerous humanitarian awards the last several years for his work with the East Texas Angel Network, a foundation he and his wife, Melinda, founded in 1995 to raise money to help pay the bills of terminally ill children in eastern Texas. Since 2001, he has also been on 13 USO tours, including one to Iraq in January.

We go over there for our soldiers, to hug them, and to tell them we appreciate them. I ve got to admit it s kind of selfish too because it makes you feel good. It s as good for us as it is for them, he says.

It s hard to believe there s a selfish bone in McCoy s body. Ask him about his greatest accomplishment, and he tells you about his children. His 14-year-old son is a fun kid, he s with McCoy on the road, selling merchandise and checking out the girls. His daughter just graduated from Texas A&M and is a special education teacher in Texas.

They re what I m most proud of. Once you live long enough, you start concentrating on your legacy. They have really good hearts. If you can raise them to the point where they care about other people, you re doing all right.

McCoy is doing all right professionally too. Not too many acts can sell out a show 20 years into a career. He gives all the credit to his loyal fan base.

I ve been to a lot of wonderful places and met a lot of great people in country music, he says. I still enjoy performing for them and appreciate all their support. You can t be in this business without the fans.

Neal McCoy will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Lucas County Fair on the grounds of the Lucas County Recreation Center on Key Street in Maumee. Tickets are $25, which covers admission to the fair. For information, go to www.lucascountyfair.com or call 419-893-2127. Tomorrow night, The Charlie Daniels Band will be performing at 8 p.m. at the fair. Tickets are also $25.

Contact Brian Dugger at: bdugger@theblade.com.



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