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Caesars: The real McCoy

Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Staff Writer

When the casino companies were trying to sell themselves to Harrison County in 1995, Caesars Indiana billed itself as a resort-entertainment complex as one of its selling points. They promised to bring big-name entertainers to little ole Bridgeport.
Yeah, right.
Since the completion of its Colosseum last October, Caesars has brought Gladys Knight (minus her Pips), KC & the Sunshine Band, Gary Puckett, Don Rickles, Tony Bennett, Clay Walker and, most recently, Neal McCoy.
OK, I’m sure you recognize some of those names, and, yes, some of them are “has-beens.” But, those of you who are country music fans know that Walker and McCoy are new kids on the block compared to the others.
While I’ve always enjoyed McCoy’s music, I haven’t paid much attention to him personally. But after seeing him perform at Caesars on Aug. 3, I know why his concerts on so popular.
McCoy, who grew up in East Texas as Hubert Neal McGaughey Jr., opened his 90-minute show with “Wink” from his “No Doubt About It” album. He slowed things down briefly with “They’re Playin’ Our Song” but kicked it up again with “The City Put the Country Back in Me.”
Dressed in a red western-style shirt, blue jeans, cowboy boots and a tan straw cowboy hat, McCoy took a break from singing after belting out three songs.
“It’s going to be a long night,” he said.
Caesars’ Colosseum had seats for 1,200 at McCoy’s concert. And the entertainer seemed to enjoy the small atmosphere. He even had a brief conversation with a man seated in the balcony who requested McCoy’s autograph so he wouldn’t “be dead meat.”
McCoy later obliged the man, having him walk down from the balcony to the stage.
Two Corydon men were teased by McCoy as they returned to their seats after taking a break during the show. Mike Bennett and John Purcell, who were sitting in the front near center-stage, had to show McCoy their ticket stubs.
After the show, Purcell said, “I told Mike we were gonna be in trouble.”
Purcell said he had tried to get Bennett to wait until McCoy turned his back to the audience to return to their seats, but it didn’t work out that way.
The two men took the ribbing well — they even left with a souvenir towel McCoy gave them — and the audience really seemed to like McCoy’s interaction with the audience.
“I think this has been the most fun crowd at a casino we’ve played for,” McCoy said after singing his most recent hit, “The Shake,” one of Country Music Television’s Top 10 Video of the Year.
While he may tell every audience the same thing, as he closed with “At This Moment,” his first recording from about 12 years ago, you believed he meant what he said.
Caesars Indiana is well on its way to becoming a resort destination. Its 500-room hotel is set to open next month and work continues on its 18-hole championship golf course.
And even if gambling’s not your thing, the restaurants are worth the drive to Bridgeport. Be sure to check out the bartenders at Legends: you can watch them toss bottles and blow fire from the dining tables and booths if you don’t want to sit at the bar.
More big-name acts are sure to come to Harrison County. Chubby Checkers will be at Caesars for two free performances on Sept. 21.
As McCoy says in one of his songs, “You gotta love that!”