Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Pickin' Women: Mary Z. Cox

Clawhammer banjo, perhaps more than any other instrument, is instantly associated with old-time music. Long before Earl Scruggs popularized his drop-thumb or three-finger style of banjo playing, the banjo was either strummed or fingered clawhammer style. (Note to all of you Charlie Poole fans, yes, I know Poole was playing drop-thumb style in the late 1920's, but it wasn't a common method until Scruggs hit the scene in 1948.) Most often played on an open-back (sometimes referred to as a "riverboat") banjo, the clawhammer style is the more melodic of the two styles.

Mary Z. Cox is one of the handful of true virtuosos of this often overlooked style. A third generation Floridian, Mary received her first banjo when she was twelve years old. Music runs in her family. Her Granddad Thompson was a professional banjo player and his father was an old time fiddler from St. Joe, Missouri. A multi-instrumentalist, Mary plays banjo, banjolin, and dulcimer with her husband, guitarist, Bob Cox. She has won contests in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama, playing banjo, mountain dulcimer, and old time string band music. Like many musicians with a passion for their trade, Mary teaches at camps and workshops to pass her love of old-time music to a new generation. She has three banjo CDs (and one in the works) and a dulcimer CD, available at Amazon, CDBaby, County Sales, Elderly, and, of course, directly from Mary Z. Cox.
Beautiful, laid-back melodies that will have your toes a tappin'. For all of you aspiring clawhammer players Mary has tabulature books for two of her banjo CDs and her also for her dulcimer CD.
Ya'll are gonna enjoy this...

Mary Z. Cox - Sally Ann

Mary Z. Cox - Snowdrop

Mole in the Ground (video) Quicktime movie, opens in new window. Give it time to load.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed a darn good way to start out a Wed. morning listening to some good banjo picking.
it will make the toe's tap for sure.


February 01, 2006 7:53 AM  
Anonymous Lucy said...

Yep Joey, I agree. What makes it even better is I didn't use my headphones 'cause my "office-mate" (one of those head-bangin' buttheads) can't stand folk or bluegrass, so of course I turned up the volume! Every so often that mean-streak surfaces.

February 01, 2006 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Lucy I am glad to see that the mean streak is used for good.. You know torcher of those
headbagers. Most of those guys just don't know good music or they are just to stupid to hear
good music


February 01, 2006 5:45 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

The begonias in the background of the photo have got me thinking about spring after being blown about by a wind stiffer than the neck of a clawhammer banjo.

That word banjo has me scratching my head.

February 01, 2006 9:34 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Don't scratch too hard Mr. BNH. Even the experts aren't sure of the origin of the word, except that it is of African origin, as is the instrument.

February 01, 2006 10:30 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Ya'll need to visit Mary's site. She's got some great stuff there.

February 03, 2006 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Lucy said...

I tried, but I keep getting error messages. Oh hell, time for a beer! Have a good weekend all.

February 03, 2006 4:16 PM  

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