Ronny Cox brings heartfelt songs to BG
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor
Friday, 10 January 2014 09:33
Ronny Cox likes to play with the lights on.
|Folk singer Ronny Cox plays in BG Jan. 17. (Photo provided)
Singer-songwriter, actor and author says when he performs he asks the venue not to dim the lights in the audience. Instead of having a spotlight shining on him, staring into darkness, he prefers to see listeners' faces.
"The closer I am to the audience the more it feels like a shared experience," he said in a telephone interview. "I want my shows to feel like it used to sitting around the front porch or the kitchen table sharing music with family and friends."
Cox will perform at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green, Jan. 17 at 8 p.m.
It's part of a weekend swing for a performer who has found celebrity on the screen but his passion is sparked by sharing the songs he loves in intimate venues.
"I'll play shows like this at a drop of a hat," he said. "I've been lucky, I had a great career but I love doing this."
His career on the big screen started when he appeared as the guitarist in the dueling banjos scene in "Deliverance" more than 40 years ago.
He went on to appear in a number of films, most often as villains as in "Total Recall" and "Robocop" and on TV in "Stargate." He played Captain Jellico in a couple "Star Trek" episodes.
He still takes acting jobs if the project interests him, and the money is right, and it doesn't interfere with his music schedule.
Cox said he was even cast in a major project recently, had been fitted out for his costume. Then the production team called back and said filming had been delayed.
Cox checked his schedule and found out the new shooting schedule conflicted with his appearance at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. Get someone else, he told the movie people.
They came back wondering: "How much are they paying you for that damn folk music gig?"
Cox responded: "I think I have more money in my pocket than they're paying me."
But that's beside the point.
"The thing that gives me the most pleasure is music," he said. "I made a life decision that I won't let any movie or TV show interfere with any music gig I have booked."
The enjoyment all comes from sharing, including sharing the stage with fellow musicians. He travels with Radoslav Lorkovic, who plays keyboards and accordion, and Bruce Bowers, on fiddle and mandolin. Both add vocal harmonies as needed. "We get a pretty good mixture of sounds," Cox said. The accordion especially adds the needed Latin shading to the Southwest pieces penned by Cox, who grew up in New Mexico.
He said he could play solo, but that "has zero enjoyment for me."
"Music is like a dialogue, it's a conversation with other musicians," he said.
Cox has written enough songs to fill out an evening's program, but here again that's not the point.
He loves sharing songs that have moved him. It could be a jazz tunes from the 1920s, a piece of vintage Western swing, or an Irish folk tune, or often a gem from another contemporary songwriter.
"That's the job of folk artists to pass songs onto people," he said.
He bridges those songs with stories, some factual, some exaggerated, some fictionalized. He doesn't hesitate, he said, "to improve upon a story."
Quoting Picasso, he said: "Art is not truth; art is a lie that makes us realize truth."
Live concerts are "one way where we still share basic kinds of emotions," he said. "Folk music is music intended to share. .... There's a bonding that I don't know that you get anywhere else.
"Music is like throwing darts. It's a direct line to the heart," he said. "I want the lights to stay up so I can see what effect this shared moment is having."