If there was any question who was the big draw at the third annual Jingle Bell Jam in York, it was answered by the screams that greeted Scotty McCreery when he took the stage Sunday night.
Or by the dozens of young women who swarmed toward the stage when Scotty started scribbling on fans’ hands midway through a performance of the song “Write My Number on Your Hand.”
Or when that scene was repeated at the end of the show as Scotty returned to the Utz Arena stage at the York Expo Center for a brief encore.
Of course, you could have gotten the answer before the three-hour show that also featured former American Idol contestant Kristy Lee Cook and local singer-songwriter Kayla Kroh — just from the makeup of fans in the front row.
Nicole Woleslagle, 18, of Dover, was there with her boyfriend Andrew Gaetjen. She stood out in line from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. earlier this year to make sure she got prime seats for Sunday’s show, sponsored by WGTY Great Country Radio.
“I like his deep voice,” she said, noting Sunday marked her fourth Scotty concert, including one in Atlantic City.
Kaylee Jones, 16, of Hanover, was in the front row, too. But in her case, it was dad Steve who camped out to make sure she got seats there.
She said she likes “everything” about Scotty and, like Nicole, she’s been a fan of the 20-year-old from Garner, N.C., since he appeared on Season 10 of Idol.
“He’s very cute, and his songs are easy to relate to,” added Heather Secrist, 16, of Spring Grove, who was attending the concert with friends Sarah White and Bri Snyder.
Alexis-Nicole Beckle, 18, of Camp Hill, not only wound up in the front row, courtesy of tickets obtained from her job at Back to Basics Western Wear in Dillsburg, she also got to see Scotty during a pre-show meet-and-greet.
She had an autographed photo to show from that meeting. And Scotty’s signature on her boot to boot.
“His voice is quite dreamy,” she said.
Friend Sarah Polk, 18, of Camp Hill, remembers Scotty’s audition on American Idol.
“I texted her (Alexis-Nicole) and said, ‘you’ve got to watch this audition. This guy has to win (American Idol).
“Plus he shook the judges’ hands. Who does that? That showed he has good southern hospitality.”
Scotty didn’t disappoint Sarah, Alexis-Nicole or any of his other fans en route to the Season 10 title on Idol.
And he probably didn’t send anyone home from Sunday’s show disappointed either, delivering a 16-song set that included a smattering of tunes from both of his country albums, plus a couple of selections from the Christmas album he released last year.
One of the latter was “Christmas in Heaven,” a song dedicated to his late grandfather and one Scotty said “means the most to me” out of all the tunes on his first three albums.
Scotty reflected back on his time on Idol, too, talking about how he insisted on singing country songs even when he was encouraged to perform pop and joking that he “still gets nightmares” about the episode with Lady Gaga as a guest mentor.
After Idol, his first album went platinum in a flash. His second, “See You Tonight,” was released in October and is off to a bit slower start in terms of sales.
But you’d never know it from the reaction when he launched into songs from that album, including “Now,” “Blue Jean Baby,” “I Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend” or “Summertime.” And his first single from that album, “See You Tonight,” got one of the biggest reactions of all.
Kaylee said she overdrew her debit card to buy that album and listened to it on the way to Sunday’s show.
“I think it’s his best so far,” added Nicole, of Dover.
Before Scotty took the stage, fans were treated to performances by Kayla Kroh (more on that show here) and Season 7 American Idol finalist Kristy Lee Cook.
The good news for Kristy Lee fans, she might have a new single coming out early next year. It would be her third for Broken Bow Records, following “Airborne Ranger Infantry” and “Wherever Loves Goes.”
Kristy Lee sang two upbeat tunes she co-wrote and plans to record in January, saying they’re in the running to be that third single. Those songs are “Just Who I Am” and “Looking for a Cowgirl.”
But she might have gotten her biggest fan reaction from some impressive yodeling during a rendition of “Cowboy Sweetheart” and for a beautiful rendition of “O Holy Night.”
Kristy Lee was making her second appearance in York in four months; she was also one of the performers on the WGTY Great Country Radio Stage at the York Fair back in September.
The set lists:
2. Water Tower Town
3. I Love You This Big
4. Blue Jean Baby
5. Holly, Jolly Christmas
6. The Trouble with Girls
7. I Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend
8. Check Yes or No
9. Want Some More of It
10. Christmas in Heaven
11. Walk in the Country with Me
12. See You Tonight
13. Write My Number on Your Hand
14. Santa Claus is Back in Town
16. Papa Loved Mama
Kristy Lee Cook
1. Good Timing
2. I’m Outta Here
3. Airborne Ranger Infantry
4. 15 Minutes of Shame
5. Cowboy Sweetheart
6. O Holy Night
7. Wherever Love Goes
8. Just Who I Am
9. Looking for a Cowgirl