Neal McCoy: '90s country, reciting the Pledge 2,400 days straight, Neon Nights

Six years have passed since country music artist Neal McCoy started reciting the "Pledge of Allegiance" on Facebook.

And he's never missed a day. Even when he's not feeling well, even when he's lost loved ones, even when the Wi-Fi connection is weak, even when he's busy touring and on the road.

"I just started it to let people know if you love our flag and love our country, there's a place you can come say the 'Pledge of Allegiance' with us," said McCoy, whose Facebook page has 831,000 followers.

More:Neon Nights returns to Clay's Resort with Alabama, Hank Williams Jr., '90s country bliss

During the Facebook posts, he also talks about music and loyal fans, as well as tossing in sports and historical trivia.

"And then I get all these comments from folks who say ... 'I can't start my day until I've said the pledge with you,'" McCoy said. "It's pretty powerful."

But the practice wasn't started with a streak in mind, he said. And McCoy invites others to join him for the Facebook live posts or to watch them on replay. "It doesn't matter what side of the aisle you're on," he said of politics, noting he "leans right."

Along with patriotism, country music is another unifying force, McCoy said of the '90s variety he will be performing on Friday at the Neon Nights festival at Clay's Resort Jellystone Park, 12951 Patterson St. NW in Lawrence Township. Clay's Resort can be accessed from Route 21.

Country music artist Neal McCoy will be performing Friday at Neon Nights, a two-day festival at Clay's Resort Jellystone Park.
Country music artist Neal McCoy will be performing Friday at Neon Nights, a two-day festival at Clay's Resort Jellystone Park.

Headliners are Alabama on Friday and Hank Williams Jr. on Saturday. Other acts include Jo Dee Messina, Phil Vassar, Clay Walker, Deana Carter and Aaron Tippin, Collin Raye and Sammy Kershaw.

Messina starts at 4 p.m. Friday before McCoy takes the stage at 5:45 p.m., followed by Vassar at 7:30 p.m. and Alabama at 9:15 p.m. Saturday's lineup begins at 4 p.m. with Carter, followed at 5:45 p.m. by the "Roots & Boots '90s Electric Throwdown" with Kershaw, Tippin and Raye.

Also Saturday, Walker performs at 7:30 p.m. before Williams Jr. closes out the event at 9:15 p.m.

To purchase tickets and for more information, go to or call the box office at 330-930-0398. Tickets also can be purchased on-site Friday and Saturday at the box office gate at Clay's Resort.

Morgan Wallen:Country Fest grows from humble beginnings to 25,000 fans and major headliner Morgan Wallen

Fans can 'shake it to the left, shake it to the right' at Neon Nights

Neon Nights clearly has a '90s country theme, although the headliners launched their careers the prior decade.

McCoy broke through the country scene in 1994 with the chart-topping singles, "Wink" and "No Doubt About It" from a platinum-selling album. A few years later, on a compilation record, McCoy released the fun, melodic and danceable, "The Shake."

The singalong chorus went like this:

Shake it to the left, shake it to the rightCome on baby you know what I likeShake it real funkyShake it real lowShake it 'till you can't shake it no more

"Those kinds of songs are fun and people like to have fun," McCoy said in a phone interview last week. "Especially when they're going out to enjoy themselves. And so we had a couple of mid-tempo things that did really well for us..."

McCoy's other popular songs include "The City Put the Country Back In Me," "For a Change," "Now I Pray for Rain" "If I Was a Drinkin' Man" and "You Gotta Love That."

'90s country music is cool again

Country music's commercial appeal hasn't looked back since the '90s. Garth Brooks dominated the genre and boosted it into the mainstream with the help of Shania Twain, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, the Dixie Chicks (now The Chicks) and other artists.

Country was blended with pop, rock and roll and honky-tonk while broadening its reach. Pop influences became even more prominent as the music evolved into the 2010s while also incorporating elements of hip-hop, leading to a genre coined "bro-country."

"It's a little more in your face, a little more bottom-end, bass driven ... and I think that's one of the reasons it's drawing a lot of kids over," McCoy said. "Just more of a party kind a environment."

"But I sure can't say anything about some of the lyrics being shallow," he added with laughter. "Because I'm cutting songs (in the '90s) like you know, 'Shake it to the left and shake it to the right … and slam bam, I'm feeling alright.'"

But decades later, '90s country remains cool, McCoy said.

During his performance at CMA Fest in Nashville earlier this summer, Cole Swindell lyrically called out the era in his song, "She Had Me At Heads Carolina," which incorporates portions of Messina's 1996 hit, "Heads Carolina, Tails California."

She's got the bar in the palm of her handAnd she's a '90s country fan like I am

There's been a resurgence of '90s country as supported by headlines like this in Rolling Stone last September: "Nineties Country Is Blowing Up With Gen Z Listeners on Streaming." Based on Spotify, an online music streaming service, there were 89 million playlists from Gen Z users containing '90s country tracks at the time.

"It just seems songs were more melodic than they are now," McCoy said of the era. "And so people love the melodies. A melody always just draws you in, and then if you get a chance to stick around for the lyrics."

'Folks that grew up with '90s country' will like Neon Nights

Neon Nights will be an opportunity to hear a '90s-rich lineup featuring artists like Carter, whose song, "Strawberry Wine" is considered to be a classic of the era; Kershaw, who scored the 1993 hit, "She Don't Know She's Beautiful"; Tippin, who struck chart gold with 1992's "There Ain't Nothing Wrong With the Radio"; and Walker, who debuted in 1993 with the popular single, "What's It To You."

"The folks that grew up with '90s country, we think that's a terrific lineup they put together," McCoy said of Neon Nights.

Younger listeners, drawn to modern country artists like Sam Hunt and Florida Georgia Line, "they're into country music now, and they're going, 'Oh, wow, this is cool, I wonder what the old people sounded like,'" McCoy said with a burst of laughter.

"Well, to the 20-some-year-olds, the old people are us, the '90s country, because some of us were having hits before they were even born or just 2 or 3 or real young," he added. "So they go back and they think they're going back to old country, but they're stopping at us '90s people, and we're sure happy about that because they're hearing us again."

McCoy agreed that '90s artists may be considered trailblazers for modern country.

However, he quickly added: "The real trailblazers (are) the Conways and Charley Pride and Haggards and those folks ... but you take it back, maybe Hank Sr. was a trailblazer to them, and the Porter Wagoners and folks, so yeah, it's just nice to get an attaboy every once in a while, and we're getting those because we thought we did a real good job with music back then, and now the kids are coming over and listening to us."

McCoy says playing festivals is a challenge

McCoy is looking forward to the Stark County festival, admitting it's a larger audience than he entertains alone.

"I love festivals," he said. "Now, I'm smart enough to know that I'm not going to be a huge draw to a festival. We're going to draw some folks, but I want to say it's a personal challenge to me.

But "when the whole festival's over … (and) they're talking about all the shows, I'd like a few of those people to say, 'Yeah, but did you catch the Neal McCoy show?'"

If you go

What − Neon Nights

Where − Clay's Resort Jellystone Park, 12951 Patterson St. NW, Lawrence Township (accessed from Route 21)

When − Friday and Saturday

Who − Country music artists include headliners Alabama on Friday and Hank Williams Jr. Saturday, along with Jo Dee Messina, Phil Vassar, Clay Walker, Deana Carter, and Aaron Tippin, Collin Raye and Sammy Kershaw.

Details − For the festival schedule and to purchase tickets, visit or call the box office at 330-930-0398. Tickets also can be purchased on-site Friday and Saturday at the box office gate at Clay's Resort.

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Neal McCoy, Jo Dee Messina and '90s country stars at Neon Nights