|Neal McCoy entertaining the audience up
close and personal.
What’s two hours of nonstop fun, action, entertainment excitement, and music presented by one of the most personable entertainers around? It just might be the Branson edition of the Neal McCoy Show at the Yakov Smirnoff Theatre.
Neal has received the Entertainer of the Year award twice, won Video of the Year, has three Platinum Albums, one Gold album and nine number one hits and is one of the legends of country music. Yet, in responding to the question, “What one thing do you want potential Branson audiences coming to your show to know about the show he said, “We want the folks who come to our show to know that we’re here to entertain them. I’m not coming to show you how good I can sing or how good my band is. We’re here to make sure you’re part of the show and that you have enjoyed yourself when you leave.”
In his typical down to earth style he went on to say, “Not everyone is a Neal McCoy fan” and acknowledged that “Not everyone knows who Neal McCoy is so we are going to do something that you are going to like, something that will bring you into our show and once you’re in you are really going to enjoy it.”
That just might be the understatement of the year. From the time the curtain went up, until the show was over about two hours later, it was pure entertainment. The band was excellent, his singing was great, but it was Neal’s innate ability to do just what he said he would do, “bring the audience into the show” and to do it so completely that it added immeasurably to the entertainment experience of the audience.
The audience knows it’s going to be a different kind of show when a two time country music entertainer of the year starts the show off, not with one of his own hits, but with two country classics like “Smile” and “Fly me to the Moon.” Now the more astute reader might say, “But those aren’t country classics.” Exactly and that is the point, “Smile” was a Nat King Cole Classic and “Fly Me to the Moon” is another classic by Frank Sinatra.
In fact the show is so different that Neal and the band don’t really know exactly what will be in it from night to night because there is no play list, the list that most bands use to know what song is coming next. Neal said, “Only the first two songs are scripted” and after that they just go with the flow. It was about ten minutes before show time and I asked, “What will the first two scripted numbers be?” He replied, “I don’t know, we decide just before we go on.”
There was a variety of music for every taste with a lot of Neal McCoy signature songs such as “Wink,” “The Shake,” “They’re Playin’ Our Song” and many of his other signature hits. There was also a lot of music covering a wide range of musical interests such as the Eddie Arnold song, “You Don’t Know Me,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face,” from the musical “My Fair Lady” and a “rapish style” combination of “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” and “Day-O” to mention a few.
But here’s the kicker, it was not just the fact of the music, it was the entertaining manner in which virtually each piece was presented. It wasn’t just someone sitting up there or walking across a stage singing songs. There was some interaction with the band or audience on virtually each piece. In one case it was the integration of the fiddle player Steve Auburn, into Neal’s performance of “The City Put the Country Back in Me,” for others it was telling a humorous story or joke or bantering with the audience from either the stage or down with the audience.
From his first step on stage until his last number he gives the impression that he is interested in doing nothing else but give the audience a great entertainment experience. It is something that is more easily felt than seen however, it is a wonderful thing to experience and makes the Neal McCoy show the unique, exciting and memorable entertainment experience that it is.
|Becky Priest performing a beautiful rendition
of "In the Arms of An Angel."
His band is fantastic and consists of Becky Priest, Keyboard; Lester Estelle Jr., Drums; Steve Auburn, Fiddle/Mandolin; Tommy Nash and Darryl Preston, Guitar and Jeremy Worden Bass. They fit right in with the blend and variety of music Neal performs and the way he interacts with them. Some highlights of individual band moments are Tommy Nash’s guitar playing during Neal’s performance of “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face,” the short duet of “Maidens Prayer” by Tommy and Steve Auburn and the simple eloquent solo presentation of “In The Arms of An Angel” sung and played by Becky Priest.
After seeing the show, Branson Mayor, Raeanne Prelsey described Neal as a “fresh, electric, multi-talented entertainer” and a “great addition to the Branson scene.” Another person who had seen the show said, “He is not only a great entertainer, he really is pretty darn funny!” After seeing the show this writer would agree with those assessments and add, “Neal McCoy is a person that loves what he does, entertaining people, and does it so well he provides an entertainment experience that goes beyond hearing mere music, fun and excitement and touches the heart to be remembered for years to come."
For further information and tickets for the Neal McCoy Show or any other Branson show or attraction please call the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services and sellers of Branson show and attraction tickets and lodging. They can be reached by calling 800-875-1550 or by visiting their web site www.BransonTourismCenter.com.