Local musician Shannon Cox returned from Europe last week after ten days on the road with the acclaimed bluegrass band “Cedar Hill.”
The band appeared at two bluegrass festivals in the U.K., the 23rd Didmarton Bluegrass Festival in Kemble, England and the Gower Bluegrass Festival in Swansea, Wales, before returning home to Missouri.
“We are really glad to have a young fellow like Shannon. He does a lot of country music, and has for years, but he’s got a close kinship with bluegrass and he makes the transition between the two really easy and does it well,” said Frank Ray, Patriarch and Mandolin Player for Cedar Hill. “I really love to indoctrinate, if you will, younger players into a solid foundation of Ozark or Appalachian Bluegrass music. It’s got to be carried on by someone and I don’t want the essence to get lost over time.”
Cox began playing at age 12. His parents were musically inclined and had jam sessions at the family home. He started playing for an audience at a local music center, “Tall Timber Music,” off Route E in Madison County. He cites some of his influences as Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, and even Lynyrd Skynyrd. He said country, bluegrass and gospel all played a big part in influencing his career. He has recorded covers with “Open Range Bluegrass” and “Route 67.”
“That was really the start of my career,” Cox said. “It was just a little place where we would hold jam sessions; a good place for families to go. A lot of times it would close up and we would have all the pickers come over to the house and sit around and play and I think that’s what really got me started.”
Cox, who is also a member of the local country band, “Black Diamond,” lives and works in Madison County. He is married with three children. His son Ethan Cox plays drums in “Black Diamond” alongside his dad.
“I love country and bluegrass both, but bluegrass because I think it’s an honest music,” Cox said. “With a lot of other styles you have electronics and toys to help you do things, but with this it’s just a guitar and a microphone and it’s completely up to you to get every sound you can out of it.”
Cedar Hill will leave again Thursday for appearances in Canada at the Irish Cultural Center Foothills Bluegrass Music Society, Calgary, AB September 21 and Capital Theater Fort Edmonton Museum in Edmonton, AB September 22.
After returning from Canada, Cox, along with “Cedar Hill,” will head to Branson for the Wooley Creek Bluegrass Festival October 13.
Formed by Frank Ray some 40 years ago, “Cedar Hill” is a traditional bluegrass band made up of accomplished musicians and singers who have stayed true to their Ozark roots. For a complete schedule and more information on the band “Cedar Hill” visit them on the web at www.cedarhillbluegrass.com.