Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas…..or any of the plethora of phrases we all exchange during this season…… My Best to All of You! Christmas is always a double edged sword for me. Mary’s favorite time was always Christmas… and she died on Dec. 18. Gosh, it’s ten years ago now, so hard to believe. I’m gearing up for a bunch of shows in the New Year and I’m truly excited about what is, essentially, a brand new band. I have discovered an amazing fiddle/mandolin player, Salvator Garza and I’m getting back together with my old friend Matt Margucci. Matt and I haven’t played together for over 10 years, but I have to tell you, I always felt my band was best and our sound the most unique when Matt was with us. He plays muted coronet… yeah, yeah… I know, a muted coronet in a folk band? But it works! It gives us a more swingy, jazzy, bluesy sound. And the amazing thing is he can play along with my acoustic guitar – truly remarkable. He also plays other instruments too: accordion, harmonica, flute….. he’s amazing, so I hope you’ll try to get out to see us when we play in your area.

Also, I’m gearing up for my ninth trip to Ireland, and it is truly the trip of a lifetime. We are going to Cork, Kerry and Clare in the south and west of Ireland. Each evening we go hear top-top Irish musicians, or they come play privately for us. I limit my group to 22… I don’t want a bigger bus, otherwise we couldn’t get down some of those narrow Irish paths they call roads! Actually, I only have two slots left for my  2017 tour… either one couple or two singles. Occasionally people need to cancel, so w do keep a waiting list. I’m also taking the love of my life, my granddaughter Catherine, with me again this year. She will have just turned 16.

Last – I’m contemplating writing a new book. It’s in the early thinking-about-it stage and I’m pondering a new CD to show off my new/old players. 2017 is going to be a busy year!!!

All the best to you in the New Year!
Ronny

PS. I also did a TV movie with Willie Nelson and I got to sing one of my songs in the movie! It should be out in the spring.  Here’s a sneak listen.

  1. Silver City Ronny Cox 3:35

Hello friends! This newsletter is actually being written by Ronny’s manager, Barb. Ronny didn’t want to miss getting some news out……….some big news! He is currently in New Orleans filming a TV movie with none other than Willie Nelson, and he will be singing one of his own songs in the movie. The song is Silver City, which is on his CD Cowboy Savant – there’s a link to it at the end of this newsletter. He’ll be doing a more up tempo version of the tune in the movie, and he’ll be sure to let everyone know when it’s scheduled to screen. He is thrilled to be on location in the Big Easy!

You may have noticed on his professional Facebook page that we have started to put some bits of movie trivia up. Even though many folks know of his acting career, there are lots of really interesting hidden facts that will be featured from time to time. Not only is Ronny an accomplished actor and singer/songwriter, he is also an author. His book “Dueling Banjos: The Deliverance of Drew” was published in 2012 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the release of his first movie, Deliverance. It is a fascinating read that takes you behind the scenes of the film and the ride he experienced during his first time in front of a camera. The book is also available in an audio edition, available at live shows. Ronny will be in Harbor Springs, Michigan, at Lamb’s Retreat for songwriters November 10 – 13.

Ronny also wants to remind everyone that he leads a tour of beautiful Ireland every summer, and there are only a few seats left on his 2017 tour! Next year’s dates are July 28 – August 6, and will go to Counties Cork, Kerry and Clare. His tour always sells out, and there are always a few disappointed folks who waited too long……… so if you think you might want to go, now is the time to speak up! You can find all the information about the Ireland tour on his website as well. It’s the trip of a lifetime!

Hope you are all enjoying a beautiful autumn, enjoying some music and making plans!

*And here’s a little note from Ronny: “Yeah……….what she said!”

Join Ronny for a musical tour of Ireland…
July 28 – August 6, 2017

Ireland16

Ronny will host a special adventure with Inishfree Irish Music Tours to the Emerald Isle. The trip includes a 9 day tour of Counties Cork, Kerry and Clare, where by day Ronny and his fellow travellers will visit ancient ruins, castles, small fishing villages, the Aran Islands, the horse races, and more. By night they will share music in the local pubs with Irish players. A very unique trip indeed!

Ireland14How can you see a lot of Ireland, but see it at Ireland’s pace? How can you have the convenience of group travel, without the herd-like drawbacks? And what about people who usually travel on their own, but who really want to get to know the place through its traditional culture – the music, the language, the stories? The answers to these questions are the seeds of this special tour…

…tours created for people who hate tours – no big buses, name tags, large groups, or hurried stops. We’ll find the best music sessions, the least touristy pubs, the most beautiful backroads, and the longest lasting memories

….tours small enough that they feel more like we are showing a group of friends around Ireland.

ireland4We take 20 or so guests and travel in a small luxury coach/bus, generally staying 2 or 3 nights in one town and spending our last evening back near the Shannon airport. Our lodging is in small hotels and an occasional B&B.  By day we will hike scenic landscapes, visit old castles, abbey ruins, and stone circles, see beaches, mountain tops, bogs, small fishing villages, islands, and festivals – whatever comes our way. And by night we will share music with local Irish singers and players.

Ireland11Our deluxe luxury coaches are just roomy enough to be comfortable, but small enough to fit on the narrowest back roads…. Our tours focus on the traditional arts and culture of Ireland, especially the music…. Our size and the way we plan our tours allows us maximum flexibility. (Want to take a walk..shop at a store… take a nap… get a snack … take a solo tour.. or a detour?) With our tours, this is all possible. We go at Ireland’s pace- fast enough to pack in a lot of incredible experiences, but slow enough so that those experiences are meaningful.

 

Ireland9Cost for 2017 tours is $2350 per person based on double occupancy. We will do our best to match up room mates if preferred. Single rooms are an additional $500 total per person for all 9 nights (limit 4 singles per tour). The fee also includes all ground transportation, all lodging including full breakfast. We also provide 3 evening group meals, and the cost for our featured Irish musicians, poets, writers, and artists.

(The increase in the single room fee is necessary to fully cover the costs of accommodating single travelers. We regret any inconvenience this causes.)

Guests pay for their own flights to and from Shannon International Airport, all lunches, 6 dinners on your own, ferries and optional activities, drinks, tips, and personal expenses. A $500 deposit is required to hold slots after confirmation of your reservation. Balance is due in two payments, 6 months and 3 months prior to the tour dates. Travel to Ireland does require a passport.

For information and reservations, email or call:

Barb Bowers
barbinishfreetours@gmail.com
(207) 380-9070

Hello Friends!

It’s hard to believe that summer is winding down. I led a great group of folks on my tour to Ireland in late June / early July, and was thrilled to be able to take my granddaughter Cat with me.  We had some good weather, some great music, and a really wonderful time. It’s a trip I truly look forward to every year.

I’ll be making a short visit to Kerrville on September 2nd, and will be attending SWRFA (Southwest Regional Folk Alliance) in Austin at the end of the month. October will find me back on the road in Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri, with more songs, stories and out & out lies!

I’m afraid I’ve been the victim of the dreaded summer doldrums. Not too many gigs, spending time with Cat and my grandson Phillip…. it’s been hot and I’ve been lazy! And even though it has been nine and a half years years since I lost Mary, I’ve thought a lot about her this summer. I had writer’s block for almost three years after she died. Even if I was writing a “silly” song….. I just couldn’t seem to finish it.  The legendary songwriter Jack Hardy took me aside one day and suggested that I go in a room and force myself to write a song. He said don’t come out till it’s done. It didn’t have to be good. I didn’t ever need to play it for anyone. I just needed to complete it.

This the song I wrote. I’m not saying it’s one of my better songs, but it is the one that got me through writer’s block. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope to see you all soon!

All the best,
Ronny

Wow…. here it is, nearly June already! This is gonna be a busy month for me! I am doing shows at The Folkhouse in Omaha on June 3rd, Green Guitar Folkhouse in Lenexa, KS on June 4 and a private house concert in Mission Hills, KS on June 5.

Then we’re off to Colorado for 4 concerts, June 9-10-11- and 12 in Alamosa, Palmer Lake, Broomfield and Ft. Collins. Check my shows page for the particulars… and come out and see us if you can! I’m really enjoying playing with Chip Dolan and Lauren Lee. Our shows in Auburn, Oakland and Felton, CA were great… ha ha, no rest for the wicked!

I’m really excited to be returning to Ireland for my eighth trip on June 26 thru July 5. The trip is sold out again for this year, but if you’d like to join us next year, I can promise you the trip of a lifetime! Details about these trips are available on my website by clicking on the “Ireland” tab – and the information about 2017 will be posted as soon as it’s available.

Best of all… this year I’m taking my granddaughter Catherine with me to Ireland. She’ll be 15 soon and this will be her first trip out of the country. We’ve gotten her passport and Global Entry documents so she’s prepared and ready to go. (As a side note, Cat and I have been taking Irish dancing lessons. Don’t get me wrong – we suck at it, but it sure is fun!)

Hope to see you all soon, either at one of my gigs or on a trip to Ireland.

Your friend in song and stories,
Ronny

Wow…. here we are in April already!  Where does the time go? Greetings from your traveling folksinger / storyteller… lots of news this month.

First, a reminder about the wonderful tour I lead to Ireland every year. It has rightly been called the trip of a lifetime. It’s a fantastic trip to Counties Cork, Kerry and Clare to touch base with our connections to Irish heritage and especially to the music. I’m sold out this year, but if you’re interested in joining us next year, check out the “Ireland” section on my website and someone will be in touch with you and fill you in on all the details.

I’ve just returned from three fantastic shows in Texas. Sandra Walters hosted a  wonderful, sold out house concert for us in Houston. By the way, I was honored to do all three of the shows with Will Taylor, a virtuoso fiddle player, and Karen Mal, the most amazing mandolin player and harmony singer on the planet. In addition to Houston, we also played Will Taylor’s “Strings on the Grass” concert in Austin and a great house concert in Wiley, TX hosted by Tom Noe. The shows went really well and I’m extremely grateful for the warm reception we received from everyone.

This month, I’ll be playing with my regular bandmate, Chip Dolan and the newest member of our band… Lauren Lee, fiddle player and singer extraordinaire.  We’ll be in Wisconsin Rapids, WI at the McMillan Memorial Library, then in Michigan City, IN at the Blue Chip Casino, then one of my favorite house concerts in Hebron, IL and then at the Riviera Theatre in Three Rivers, MI! Yeah, yeah, I know –  the routing stinks!…it’s causing us to start referring to it as the “star of David tour”.  But check out my shows page for all the particulars….I’d love for you to come to a show if it’s near you, and please come by and say hello. That’s half the fun for me.

I’m doing a rather new thing.  As most of you know, as a matter of philosophy, my show is largely comprised of a lot of other people’s songs. I don’t do “covers” per se, even though I’m a songwriter.  I like showcasing other writer’s songs, especially if I feel I can bring some fresh slant to them.  Well, the songs I’m doing for these shows will – almost without exception – be songs I have written.  Somehow, the stories starting feeling more connected and the show, at least to me, almost feels like a two act play….. with music.  “Songs, Stories and Out N Out Lies”.  Hope to see you soon, and here’s a song for the road.

Yours in song and stories,
Ronny

…. I don’t write very many autobiographical songs… other than, perhaps, this one.

Hi Friends…

I love writing these missives to you guys every month and letting you know what I’m up to. I don’t have too many shows right now, but I’m going to Kansas City on the 17th for 5 days. It’s the big International Folk Alliance Conference, where I will do a bunch of  “showcases”. Practically every venue for folk artists will have a representative there and it’s where most of us get booked for the coming 12 to 18 months.

Then, on March 4, 5 and 6, I’m traveling to Texas to do 3 rather unique shows. As most of you know, even though I’m a songwriter, as a matter of philosophy, the preponderance of the songs I do are from other songwriters. NOT THIS TIME… I’m doing these three shows with Karen Mal (my adopted daughter!) and Will Taylor… they are both incredible musicians and singers. It will seem strange to do only my stuff… but I’m really looking forward to it. You can find all of the details on the shows page of my website.

I’ve been told that my Ireland tour, which is June 26 – July 5 this year has only three slots remaining. If any of you would like to join us for the trip of your lifetime, please, check out my Ireland tour page.

And last, but certainly not least, I pride myself on presenting shows that are absolutely nonpolitical. I want my shows to be about things we can share and have in common, not things that divide us. Having said that… this year has been such an unfathomable year politically that my friend Eric Schwartz and I have written a song which we hope everyone will find funny, no matter which end of the political spectrum you’re on. We recorded it and did a really low-tech video of it… we’ve been sitting around giggling at it… but then perhaps that says more about me and Eric than anything else. We’re gonna release it on our Facebook pages, asking people to share, if they like it. It will also be on YouTube and any other medium we can think of. Here’s the link to the video:

Trumped by Ronny Cox and Eric Schwartz

Let me know what you think…

Thanks, and hope to see you soon!
Ronny

Happy New Year, folks! Hope you all made it through the holidays in a happy way, and are ready for a great 2016 full of music and stories. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at some point in my travels around the country – you can next find me at the Wine and Song Concert Series in South Pasadena, California at the Arroyo Club this Wednesday, January 6th. And I’ll be heading to the International Folk Alliance Conference in Kansas City next month. You can find all the details on the shows page of my website.

As most of you know, I lead a wonderful musical tour of Ireland every year. This year, as in every year, we will go to Cork, Kerry and Clare for ten glorious days. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s a cultural tour too… but the emphasis is on the music. My Irish partner knows all the TOP, TOP Irish musicians and singers and we have music every night. Either we have a private concert for our little group in our hotel or we are the special invited guests at a local pub where we have the front row seats…. it’s magic. We’ll be going this year June 26 through July 5 and it will sell out very quickly… if any of you might be interested click on the Ireland tab on my website and all the info is there. Only a few seats are left, and I think you’ll find it to be the trip of a lifetime!

I want to tell a little story about one of my trips. During the famine in the 1840’s Ireland lost half of it’s population… one quarter to starvation and one quarter to migration. There is a “famine” graveyard in Skibbereen, County Cork, one of the hardest hit areas during the “hunger”. In this graveyard there is a mass grave where nearly 10,000 people are buried under a reverent expanse of the greenest grass.

The most prominent clan in Skibbereen at the time were the McCarthy’s. A few years ago I had a young man from Memphis who was visiting Ireland for the first time along on my tour. His name was Sean McCarthy. He had known very little of his heritage before the trip, but soon discovered his ancestors had migrated from Skibbereen. The day we visited the graveyard, he stood at the site of this mass grave, gob-smacked. I wrote the song below for him…

Wishing you all a wonderful 2016.

Your friend in songs and stories,
Ronny Cox

  1. Sean McCarthy Ronny Cox 3:46

Hello folks – here we are in December again! I’m always pretty conflicted when the holiday season rolls around… Christmas was always my wife Mary’s magic time. Sometimes it seemed Mary was in the Christmas mode all year long. She was either considering a gift for someone or wracking her brain thinking of a gift for someone. It didn’t have to be the perfect gift… but it did have to be one that Mary felt would specifically be for one certain person. The boys and I got a whole bunch of presents from Mary… not expensive gifts, that was never her style, but always personally wrapped herself. (By the way… in our little family, you couldn’t give a gift you didn’t wrap yourself… NO STORE WRAPPINGS!) Getting a really raggedy wrapped something-or-other from a 3-year-old was as good a present as a dad or mom could get.

Christmas morning with Mary was chock full rituals that were followed to the letter every year. Stockings were dealt with first… kinda controlled mayhem as our boys went from one wonder to the next… getting more and more excited. Then… a pause for breakfast.. with my two boys wolfing it down, anxious to get to the main event…. opening the presents.

Each of us staked out our territory – where we were gonna be, and then John, being the youngest, ran back and forth from the tree giving each person their loot. Once the presents were stacked in front of each of us, then, starting with John we proceeded by age. He would open a present, show it off, perhaps play with it awhile.. and finally would then point to Brian… and on and on and on. Like I said… everyone got LOTS of presents. Even though we arose early on Christmas morning, it still took till noon or later to open the presents. Ah… what a time.

What I mean about being conflicted at Christmas time is this….. Mary passed away on Dec. 18th.  So it’s always a little difficult at this time of year now. It’s fun to remember those Christmas mornings, but then……I miss her very much.

You can find me in Williamsburg, Virginia this New Year’s Eve, performing for the Williamsburg First Night, and then I’ll be in Maryland January 1st and 2nd……..check my website for the latest schedule. I’d love to see you there!

I always like to include a song that I’ve recorded at the end of these messages to you: this is a song which is in the Cowboy Hall of Fame, as perhaps the greatest Cowboy Christmas song.  It’s certainly my favorite. It was written by my dear friends Wendy Waldman and Carol Elliott……

However you celebrate this time of year, I wish you all the happiest of holidays!

Your friend in songs and stories,
Ronny Cox

Last year I was invited to a songwriter’s retreat… well, actually I was sort of hired, along with four or five other songwriters to mentor and encourage aspiring songwriters.  There were about sixty or sixty-five attendees, and we met at a beautiful retreat in upper Michigan.  Perhaps, I should voice the reasons I approached gig with certain trepidations.  I had just gone through a long period of “writer’s block”… in fact, after Mary’s death,  I had gone almost three years without writing anything.  I kept telling myself that maybe we could check out that old cliche… “them that can… do, them that can’t… teach”.  In my defense, I had taught at other songwriting gatherings and found that even if I didn’t write, I could offer some fairly cogent ideas for approaching the daunting task of making yourself vulnerable and of exposing all your insecurities in a song.

What I didn’t know about this particular retreat was that everyone there… faculty included, was supposed to write a song in the three or four days we were there.  Not only write a song, but to perform it publicly for all the others to hear and appreciate.  (And here are those insecurities… maybe NOT appreciate).

I will say this….John Lamb, who was the director and moving force behind the retreat did his homework.  He had a rather long and detailed suggestion sheet for everyone there… he found out where each person was from, something about the history of their area, or some other interesting fact and actually gave each aspiring songwriter some tangible thing to go to if they ended up not knowing what to write about.  I could see, especially for beginning songwriters, how that could be extremely helpful.

He gave each person their own particular sheet and an assignment to write a song based on their town, or state, or what not.  He had some rather specific criteria that were intended to keep us connected to the task at hand.  For instance, any colloquialisms or customs that were part of the everyday fabric of our particular areas.  He also had very detailed suggestions of where the song could go if you ran into a blank wall and didn’t know where to turn.  I could clearly see how his process could be extremely helpful to aspiring songwriters.  Unfortunately, not for me.

I’ve always known that I write differently from most songwriters… most writers get an idea for a song and sort of write a poem about it, (sometimes, simultaneously writing a melody… sometimes adding the melody later), so it comes out as a fairly well connected whole.  With me… melody comes ages before the lyrics.  I can have a melody in my head for a long time before I figure out what it’s about, and the problem with that is that now I’m locked into the melody and the number of syllables in a phrase, so now I’m forced to find words that fit EXACTLY into those confines.  Not the best way to write.  Also… I don’t write quickly.  Elephants have babies faster than I write songs.  So the idea of writing a song in a finite period of time was terrifying to me.  All of the wonderful guideposts that John Lamb gave everybody to keep us on the problem at hand worked against me and just… well… paralyzed me.

On the final night of the retreat, we all gathered and performed the songs each one of us had written.  Everyone wrote a song…. some were fantastic.  I mean, standing ovation fantastic.  And all of them were quite good and affirmed that John Lamb was onto something.  That most of us could write a really good song with some guidance and the desire to do it.

Well…. ALL of us didn’t write a song… I ended up with one and a half lines.  It was embarrassing.  I just couldn’t do it… everything worked against me.  All the information John gave, which was so helpful to others, just stopped me dead in my tracks.  I left the retreat vowing never to attempt to write a song again.

You see, John had found out I was from a small town in New Mexico… Portales, and that we grew peanuts there.  “Portales, New Mexico:  Peanut Basin of the Nation”.  What he didn’t know that some damn visiting professor from Dallas, in his inimitable wit and wisdom had dubbed us “Goober Gulch” and the nickname had stuck, so I had grown up cringing at the name… he also wanted the song to be a “slice of small town life”.. a love story…. he wanted me to work a holiday into the song… and something about the financial circumstance of our hero…. anyway, it was just too much stuff… so all I wrote was..”You ain’t got no money… your Visa was declined”… I didn’t get a standing ovation.

I came home and four months later finally wrote the song… John Lamb was threatening to put the word out that I didn’t live up to my obligations if I didn’t.

Click below if you’d like to hear it….