Country music performer Neal McCoy returned to Cape Girardeau with his larger-than-life stage presence for a Christmas show Sunday night.
Applause, whistles and cheers from the crowd of about 1,570 people drowned out all other noise as McCoy took the Show Me Center stage.
Dancing around the stage with the microphone stand as a partner, McCoy opened with "Let it Snow" and other Christmas favorites before moving on to some of his own well-known tunes like "Wink" and "The Shake."
With black cowboy hat tipped back on his forehead and a grin on his face, McCoy had no qualms about stopping midsong to tell jokes and give the audience instructions on how to imitate a train whistle.
It works best if you have a cold, McCoy told the crowd as he demonstracted the whistle by simultaneously making a hawking sound in his throat and saying "whooo."
"This is a great thing for us to do with our families for Christmas," said 14-year-old Carman Scholl of Cape Girardeau, who attended with her younger sister, Katie Scholl, and friend, Kelli Foeste. "I've been a Neal McCoy fan since I was a little. It's country music, and that's what we like."
McCoy stepped outside the country music genre with a hip-hop version of the theme from "The Beverly Hillbillies," a reggae rendition of "Jingle Bells" and a bluegrass-inspired "Winter Wonderland."
During "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," he left the stage to walk through the audience, shaking hands and giving out hugs as he went.
"It's a good show," said Kim Essner of Cape Girardeau. "There's a good mix of his regular songs and Christmas songs, and I like all the audience interaction."
Around 1,570 people attended the event, according to Show Me Center marketing director Brad Gentry, who said that 2,500 to 3,000 people "would have been nice.""We're empty from what we were expecting. But those who are here are having a good time," said Gentry.
This is McCoy's third performance in Cape Girardeau in recent years, and he's developed quite a local following.
"I love him," said Kristina Bollinger of Scott City. "He puts on a great show."
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