With two platinum albums and a run of 10 Top 20 hits, Neal McCoy certainly thanks God he’s a country boy. But the Texas native is also “a big band nut,” which is why he’s happy to be working with Les Brown Jr. and his ensemble in taping a PBS show next week in Detroit.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of big band music, and to work with Les Brown and his Band of Renown is very exciting,” says McCoy (ne McGaughey), 52, who’s best known for his mid-90s hits “No Doubt About It,” “Wink,” “For a Change” and “They’re Playin’ Our Song.” “There is not much difference between western swing and what they call big band swing. In western swing there’s a lot of rides and solos with fiddle and steel (guitars), and big band is done with horns, but it’s pretty much the same kind of music.
“And me, as the singer, I just have to fit in the middle there somewhere.”
McCoy’s enthusiasm is also bolstered by the participation of Charley Pride and Janie Fricke in the show. Each is significant in his career: Fricke heard McCoy sing at a talent contest in 1981 and told Pride about him, who hired McCoy as an opening act. He plans to duet with each of them as a gesture of gratitude for their support.
“I wanted them to be there to see how full-circle I’ve come from when they first met me,” explains McCoy, who’s working on his first new album since 2005. “These PBS specials let you do a little back story when you’re introducing the songs, and I’ve got a great story about how Janie discovered me and introduced me to Charley. It’s an opportunity to do something really cool and special with them.”
Neal McCoy and Les Brown Jr. & His Band of Renown, with special guests Charley Pride and Janie Fricke, perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, June 14-15, at Sound Board in the Motor City Casino, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $30 and $25. Call 866-782-9622 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.
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