Neal McCoy to headline Sedgwick County Fair

By Travis Mounts


Neal McCoy is a bona fide country music star. Ten studio albums, 34 country music singles and back-to-back No. 1 singles (“No Doubt About It” and “Wink”) prove that.


But you are liable to hear just about anything during his live show.


“I don’t have a set list. It’s truly off the cuff, spontaneous stuff. It’s like coming to a friend’s house, just playing music. We just read the room and see what y’all want to hear,” he said during a phone interview from his tour bus somewhere outside of Oshkosh, Wis. “It stays fresh. We want you to walk away and say, ‘That’s about the most fun we’ve had.’”


Neal McCoy with Adam Capp and the Dirt Road Drifters

Friday, July 8 • 8 p.m.

Advance tickets $20 www.ourcountyfair.com

Tickets at the gate $25


McCoy and his band will be sharing that fun at the Sedgwick County Fair. McCoy is this year’s headline act and will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 8, presented by Lubbers Chevrolet and 100.5 Hank FM. The Adam Capps Band will open the show.


McCoy’s recent shows have included covers of “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson and a metal version of Sam Hunt’s “House Party.” You may also hear covers of classic country songs, and expect McCoy to play many of his own hits, including “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On.”


His latest album is “You Don’t Know Me,” a collection of songs from what is known as the Great American Songbook. It’s a change of pace from his other albums but well within his broad range and personal musical tastes.


“I’m an old soul,” McCoy said about his love of standards from the 1940s and 1950s.


“As I get older, I listen to it more. And talk radio. I enjoy listening to the crazies.”


Fairgoers might hear a song from Frank Sinatra or Nat King Cole that McCoy recorded for the new album.


“If the mood is right, we’ll throw in a song or two. … My mother sang those songs to me when I was a kid, ‘Kiss me once, kiss me twice and kiss me once again,’” McCoy said, singing a popular line from the 1945 hit “It’s Been a Long, Long Time.”


He said doing an album of classic American standards has been a bucket list item of his for his entire life. He said the lyrics then, during and after World War II, had a lot of meaning. Songs were about love, loss and reunion.


The album is available for sale right now only at his website, www.nealmccoy.com. It will be released nationally on July 15.


County fairs have always been a big part of McCoy’s tour schedule, and he sang the praises of this American institution.


“I love county fairs. I love the family. I love everything about them. I love the volunteers, many of whom take their vacations so they can volunteer. I love what county fairs stand for,” he said. “It’s all-American stuff.”


County fairs may not provide the same luxuries stars are used to at other venues. McCoy said the sound is sometimes a challenge. Some nights they’ll play on a big stage, and on other nights the stage isn’t much more than a flatbed trailer. None of that matters, though.


“I’d rather play a county fair than anything else,” he said.


His own family is planning to tag along for the trip to Kansas, which includes a concert in De Soto the night after McCoy plays the Fair. His wife, Melinda, frequently travels with McCoy. They’ve been married since 1981. Their children, Miki and Swayde, are adults now but will be coming along, as will McCoy’s two grandchildren.


“They come out in the summer,” McCoy said of his kids. “We’ve always brought them, for at least a week.”


A lot of folks are tuning into McCoy these days, not for his music but for the Pledge of Allegiance. Every day, McCoy says the Pledge of Allegiance on his Facebook page. Sometimes it’s streamed live, sometimes he features other performers such as Charley Pride and Jake Owen.


McCoy said he tries to post the pledge as close as possible to 7:30 a.m. Central time. That time can vary a little bit depending on his schedule, especially if he’s on the West Coast. When it’s 7:30 a.m. here, it’s 5:30 a.m. there.


“We have a lot of people who enjoy it every morning,” McCoy said. “No matter what side of the political fence you’re on, we can all say the Pledge of Allegiance and love America.”


He’s averaging 100,000 views a day. Roughly 12 million people have logged on since he started posting the pledge daily six months ago.


The effort is not a gimmick. McCoy, the son of an Italian-American father and Filipino mother, is truly proud of his country.


“As children, my mother taught us to never take for granted the freedoms we have here,” he said, noting that as his mother grew up, Filipinos spent much of their lives living under a dictatorship.


“If you don’t say it anymore, come over and join me. You’ll feel better,” he said.