April 18, 2013
Coming soon! Reissue of a cd we recorded in 2003--for 2013--mighty good tunes on banjo, dulcimer, fiddle, guitar, banjolin--laid back old time string band with Mary Z. Cox and friends--limited edition :)
2013 news !
March 23, 2013
Lots of fun happening this year !
Still time to sign up at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC for my intermediate/advanced level clawhammer banjo class for the week of April 7, 2013 ! We are going to push to new levels and have a lot of fun doing it!
Extra fun--Jeff Sebens (the hammered dulcimer building instructor) is going to join me for the Tuesday morning morning song.
Have a Thursday night concert at the school--and I'm bringing some cool banjos for you to see and hear :)
We are having a little field trip to Ken & Virginia Miller's guitar studio on Wednesday Evening & banjo builders, Lo Gordon and Tim Gardner will be visiting Thursday afternoon to show their beautiful banjos, styles, and jamming with us on banjo and fiddle. :)
It's going to be a fun week!
Florida Folk Festival 2013 coming Memorial Day weekend--as soon as we know which stages and times we will be playing--we'll get them up on this web page calendar :)
Mary Z. Cox/ Girl With the Banjo Tattoo
September 15, 2011
Girl With the Banjo Tattoo (maryzcox.com). Mary Z. Cox is one of today's top clawhammer banjo players; this collection will dispel any doubt there may be about that. Fourteen traditional tunes include: Scarborough Fair, Morning Has Broken, Pretty Polly,Star of the County Down, and Chinkapin Hunting. Cox also plays guitar and dulcimer. Fans of clawhammer style banjo won‟t want to miss this one! (Mitch Finely)
September/October 2011 Inland Northwest Bluegrass Association Newsletter
Happy New Year update :)
January 9, 2011
- Hello and a very happy new year to friends and family,
Thank you everyone that welcomed us to your town and home this past year. We really enjoyed seeing many friends and meeting new ones in White Springs, Cashiers, Charlotte, Brasstown, Unicoi, Manasota Key, Port Allen, Tallahassee, Palm Bay, Murphreesboro, Fort Walton, Brevard, and in Ecuador and the Galapados Islands.
Thanks you to everyone who bought our cds and books and digital downloads and for all your kind words about them. You make it possible for us to continue to spread banjo music around the world. :)
Here are some of our musical highlights of 2010
- Drumming On the Edge of Banjo (our new cd) was played on NPR's Thistle and Shamrock twice in 2010, and accepted into Pandora's world music genome.
- John Bowlin's Groundhog Strut was included on efolkmusic's new compilation cd.
- Tamlin was included on a Dulcimer Players News cd compilation this year.
- Had musical genius students at the John C. Campbell clawhammer banjo workshop, and at the Violin Shop in Charlotte, NC.
- Had awesome dulcimer students at the Suwannee Dulcimer retreat and at the Violin Shop in Charlotte.
- Magical Carolina House concert in Charlotte and an awesome weekend with Jennifer Stanton.
- The 58th Florida Folk Festival
- Dulcimers In History at the Cashiers Library--another magical and unexpectedly packed event.
- The North Georgia Foothills Dulcimer Association Fall Festival at Unicoi
- The Lagnaippe Dulcimer Fete in Port Allen, Lousiana
- An impromptu house concert on Manasota Key with visiting Hawaiins, Char and Michael.
- An evening of playing Afro/Caribbean drumming with Celtic clawhammer frailing fushion banjo at the Mockingbird Cafe with Yazid and Jim Crozier, packed with friends and family.
- The Cracker Coffee House at the Stephen Foster State Park.
- Lots of good feedback on "Easy String Band Method for the Mountain Dulcimer" Thanks for letting me know you like it.
- Bob gave me a beautiful Timber Hill mountain dulcimer for my birthday built by Paul Conrad.
- Ken Miller's "Little Star" guitar came to live at my home.
Here are some highlights coming in 2011. I've just updated my web site with a whole new look and have begun to ad some event dates for 201l. Please take a look if you are interested in hearing us live or attending a banjo or dulcimer workshop :)
- New banjo centric cd coming soon. (it's almost half complete and hope to have it out early in the year.
- New banjo tab book with tabs from the upcoming cd and tabs for tunes on Drumming On the Edge of Banjo.
- Mark Sickman is ready with his Grand Canyon DVD--we have been watching the early release and it is wonderful. There is a lot of old time banjo soundtrack, and some really innovative singing and storytelling too.
- Heading west in October and wil be giving a concert and worshop in Albuquerque. If you are on the route to or from there or in or near Arcosanti in the beginning to middle of October and would be interested in hosting a house concert and/or banjo or mountain dulcimer workshop in your town--please contact me. :)
Dog Days 2010
August 10, 2010
Hello Friends and family,
Hope it's cooler where you are than in Tallahassee in August. :)
Lots of fun happening with "Drumming On the Edge of Banjo." NPR's Thistle and Shamrock played a track from it in June and now they've sent me a questionaire for more information. Oasis just sent out the radio sampler of world music which included a track and we've been hearing from DJs across the country asking for more. :)
I have been working on a banjo tab book to go with it. We are leaving for Ecuador and the Galapados Islands in a few days and will be back by August 31st--so I will resume work on it then and hopefully will finish in the fall.
We are greatly looking forward to seeing everyone in Charlotte in September.
Thank you to everyone who has bought our new CD or download of it. We really appreciate your support and also all your kind words about the music. :)
Best wishes always,
Thistle and Shamrock (NPR)
June 23, 2010
Florida Folk Festival 2010
May 17, 2010
Bob and I will be at the Florida Folk Festival in White Springs on Memorial Day weekend. Here is where we will be playing:
Friday/May 28th 12:30 PM Song and Story Tent
Saturday/May 29 7:00 PM Old Marble Stage
Sunday/May 30 12:40 PM Under the Oaks
Bob and I have been working up some nice new sets and hope you will come by and have a listen and say hello.
Notice that the Old Marble Stage is near the food vendors at dinner time and the Under the Oaks time is at lunch near food vendors--so you can actually eat and listen at the same time. :)
Back story/ Drumming On the Edge Of Banjo
February 22, 2010
Drumming On the Edge Of Banjo/ Back Story
This is not another African roots meets modern banjo cd. It began as an American story--a blend of Afro/Caribbean, Celtic, old time, and a fusion of American music from the 17th to the 21st century.
It began with "The Old Plantation" painting from the 1700s. Two men are pictured playing a banjo and drum for a dance--and we wondered--where would that music have taken them with today's awesome banjos and drums and the freedom to choose their musicians?
We chose Yazid for this project because he is not African--but African American--and his drumming has a heavy Caribbean as well as African flavor. He more accurately reflects the feel of the music in colonial America gone modern--more than current African/American blends. :)
Mary Z’s family roots are Scotts, Irish, English, Hungarian and Bohemian. Her Celtic ancestors came to the Americas in the 1600s and 1700s and her middle European ancestors in the 1800s. We believe we have thrown the feel of this early American mix of music into the cook pot, let it simmer, and—voila-- present day acoustic fusion.
The things we played J
Goldtone 5 string cello banjo, Lame Horse open back banjo, Gibson RB250 banjo, Deering John Hartford banjo,(the black and gold one) John Bowlin 1865 fretless banjo, (made from a tracing of Mary Z’s left hand) Ken Miller custom guitar, Blue Lion mountain dulcimer, Ron Ewing dulcimette, bowed bass, djembes, congas, bell, Revere Ware copper bottom pots and pans,(a wedding gift from Ma Cox) snapping fingers, (Gordy Cox) wind chimes from the front porch, shakers, tambourine, Gordy’s car keys, church bells, George Clinton singing “Old Groundhog.”
Drumming On the Edge Of Banjo
January 28, 2010
Mary Z. Cox & Yazid with Afro/Caribbean, Celtic clawhammer, frailing fusion "Worldgrass" (with banjos, cello banjo, drums, percussion, pots and pans, guitar, bowed bass, mountain dulcimer, dulcimette, and featuring George Clinton on vocals.)
A fusion of a 17th century colonial American drumming and banjo with a 21st century edgy acoustic beat. This is the Afro/Celt sound that fuses old and new :)
engineered and produced by Gordy Cox
graphic art by Rich DiSilvio
Line Notes for Florida Banjo Cd
September 25, 2009
Notes for Florida Banjo (for the inside of the CD panel)
Mary Z. Cox 2008
1. Ponce de Leon (gCGCD#) Guitar: Ellen, Banjo: Mary Z., Bass: Jim
Ponce de Leon came to the Americas on Columbus's second voyage. He was a
wealthy Spaniard, who not only discovered enough gold in Puerto Rico to
increase his own wealth, but sent enough treasure home to make the king of
Spain a rich man too. As a reward he was appointed governor of Puerto Rico
and allowed to lead expeditions north in search of additional treasure.
Everyone knows of the quest for gold and the mysterious waters of eternal
youth. Instead, the Prince of Lions found a land of flowers. Somehow, the Gabriella seemed the right banjo for this tale of a quest for golden treasure. Played on a Deering Gabriella banjo. © Mary Z. Cox 2006
2. Spanish Fandango (aDADE) Mandolin: Ellen, Bowed Bass: Jim, Banjo: Mary Z.
We learned this traditional tune from dulcimer players in the North Georgia Foothills Dulcimer Association in jams. Mary began playing it successfully in dulcimer contests and we liked it so well, we recorded it on our “Dulcimer Fandango” CD. This time, we recorded it on banjo, mandolin, and bowed bass and hope you will enjoy this version too.
Played on a Custom Deering GDL banjo
3. Cluck Old Hen (gDGCD) Cigar box banjo: Mary Z. We’ve played this traditional fiddle tune for years. It just seemed the right tune to play on my fretless Joe Masel cigar box banjo that is strung with electric guitar strings. I played it in G sawmill instead of the more traditional A modal because it sounded better on the cigar box.
“My old hen, is a good old hen, she lays eggs for the railroad men.” Can’t you just imagine those railroad men smoking cigars and turning those boxes into banjos and egg baskets?
4. Ragtime Annie (aDADE) guitar: Bob, banjo: Mary Z.
This old time fiddle tune is a popular jam and dance tune. The earliest documented recording was in 1922, by Texas fiddler Eck Robertson, playing three parts. It is more often played with two parts for dancing. It seems that whenever we hear a third part played by fiddlers—it is seldom the same, and we suspect it got tagged on by different fiddlers as the tune was passed along. Here, we added our own third part because we don’t think fiddlers should have all the fun, and that banjoists should be able to add third parts too. Played on a Cedar Mountain A2 banjo.
5. Yearlings In the Canebreak ( c#AEAB) Fiddle: Kerry, Banjo: Mary Z., Bass: Jim Kerry Blech taught me this tune and sent these notes for it. This tune came from a 1925 commercial recording (on the Victor label) by Captain Moses J. Bonner (born in Alabama in 1848,though later lived in Arkansas, but most of his life in Texas -- He had
been in the Civil War and the Texas Rangers. I think his rank was from the latter). This tune is the antecedant to "Cattle in the Cane," which has been popular amongst bluegrass and Texas-style contest fiddlers. Played on a 12” Ramsey Woody banjo.
6. Shenandoah Falls (c#AEAB ) banjo: & mountain dulcimer: Mary Z., bass: Jim
We learned this old time breakdown jamming at festivals and playing at dances. I recorded a track in low A on a gut strung banjo. Then Marshall Goers showed me how to tune the mountain dulcimer in E AA to play the tune in A . I played two tracks of dulcimer (melody and a freelance harmony) to go with the banjo as a duet. Played on a Goldtone EC-1 banjo and a Kurt Simmerman mountain dulcimer.
7. Frankie’s Blues (dADF#A ) banjo: Mary Z.
This tune began as the traditional “Frankie and Johnnie”, but after tuning the fretless, gut strung, Hunchback Wunder Banjo in low D for this tune, it took on a bluesy feel.
8.Yellow Rose of Texas (aDADE ) Banjo: Mary Z.
This is the old time string band fiddle tune version—not the one from the movie. This is such a pretty tune that I slowed it down and added three banjo tracks so you could hear how pretty banjos sound played together. Played on a Custom Deering GDL banjo.
9. Chinquipin ( gDGBD) fiddle: Kerry, banjo: Mary Z., Bass: Jim
Kerry Blech taught me this tune and sent the notes. “This Chinquipin is from the playing of Roscoe Parish of Coal Creek, Virginia, near Galax. Tommy Jarrell played the tune, nearly the same way, but called it "Sail Away Ladies" and sang to it.”
Played on a Custom Deering GDL banjo
10. Waterbound (c#AEAB ) banjo: Mary Z. This traditional tune is played in low A on a gut strung banjo and recorded on two tracks. It is a traditional fiddle tune that we learned jamming at festivals. Although it isn’t a Florida tune, it always seemed to me that the words could be rewritten a bit and it would be an excellent state song. Played on a Goldtone EC-1 banjo.
11. Wind That Shakes the Barley (aDADE) banjo: Mary Z., bass: Jim
This is a Celtic tune that may be Scotts or Irish. I don’t remember where I first learned this tune, but I began playing it one day on the banjo and loved the melody.
Then I asked Jim about playing bowed bass with it, and here it is—a banjo/bass duet.
Played on a Custom Deering GDL banjo.
12. Peach Bottom Creek (f#DF#AD ) Banjos: Lo & Mary Z.
Lo taught me this tune and tuned both banjos in this tuning for this recording. I play the melody and Lo plays the harmony on our Cedar Mountain banjos. Jim just seemed to know the right bass to play with this.
13. Hail Agin' The Barn Door (c#AEAB) Fiddle: Kerry, Banjo: Mary Z., Bass: Jim
Kerry taught me this tune and here is what he says about it. “ Hail Agin' the Barn Door comes from the playing of Lum (short for Columbus) Hawkenberry, from a 1947 field recording of him that is in the West Virginia University State and Regional archives. I forget where in WV he lived.” Played on a 12” Ramsey Woody banjo
14. Turkey In the Straw (gCGCE) banjo: Mary Z., bass: Jim
I learned the basics of this tune many years ago from a tab in the John Burke book. Of course, my version is quite a bit different after all this time. By the way, I loaned my copy of that book to someone over 35 years ago and never got it back. I can’t even remember who I lent it to—so I hope they enjoyed it and learned to play lots of tunes from it! Played on a 12” custom Chuck Lee banjo.
15. Loch Laven Castle (aDACE) mandolin: Ellen, banjo Mary Z., bass: Jim
This is an old Scott’s reel that Ellen taught us. She plays the lead and I offer backup on the banjo in this version. This tune goes by many other Celtic names, but this one is named after a castle in Scotland from which Mary, Queen of Scots, escaped. Played on a Custom Deering GDL banjo
Tied To the Tracks interview
January 20, 2009
There are five tracks to this interview that features the tunes: Winders Slide, John Stinson's #2, Western Cowboy, Rockin' In a Weary Land, Ponce de Leon & Liza Jane and you get to see and hear four different banjos and a Kurt Simmerman mountain dulcimer.
BanjoQuest is here!
December 3, 2008
Drumming on the Edge of Banjo
October 5, 2008
Drumming On the Edge of Banjo
Two time Florida Banjo Champion, Mary Z. Cox, and African Caribbean drummer, Yazid, blend early Florida roots music in highly percussive rhythms for dancing and listening.
Yazid (William Johnson), a former professor of ethnomusicology at Florida State University, and drummer for Marvin Gaye, is a professional drummer and percussion instructor that plays regularly with several performance and dance groups all over Florida.
Mary Z. Cox, banjo recording artist, plays banjo with her guitarist husband, Bob Cox, in concerts and workshops from coast to coast, and has also played for old time dances in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina for many dance groups.
Mary Z. & Yazid are very pleased to introduce this new sound that draws from the not so diverse African/Caribbean and Southern banjo cultures. The banjo, is, after all, a drum with strings.
Yazid and Mary Z. are currently recording a “Drumming On the Edge of Banjo” CD which will hopefully be available in 2009.
(Acoustic World Music and Americana Music for listening or dancing)
For concert or dance bookings contact:
Dulcimer Fandango gone!
August 31, 2008
Dulcimer Fandango is now OUT OF PRINT!
There may be a few copies left at CDbaby, County Sales, the Stephen Foster State Park Gift store (White Springs, Fl) and at Celestial Mountain Music (Brevard, NC), and at the John C. Campbell FolkSchool gift store (Brasstown, NC)
If you had been meaning to get one, but never got around to it or wanted to give one as a gift because it was a favorite of yours--please check with these stores to get one of the last copies.
About new banjos!
April 27, 2008
If you suspect you need a new banjo--you do. Trust your musical instincts. If a banjo calls to you to buy it, don't fight destiny. It was meant to be. :)
Mary Z. Cox
Review of Ne Plus Ultra
April 27, 2008
Review Recording King
ne plus ultra 036
Ne Plus ultra has a white laydie style tone ring and it has a warm,yet bright tone. It is one of the nicest tones on a maple rim with a white laydie tone ring I've heard. The tone is close to that of a vintage banjo.
It fits my style of clawhammer quite well.
Setup included my name engraved on the truss rod cover and railroad spikes installed for the fifth string.
It came slightly damaged in shipping--the tailpiece screw was bent and the tailpiece was out of place.
I took it to a local luthier for the repair and set up--and it sounded awesome.
The inlay is awesome--Greg Rich designed it and it looks like a cross between tree of life and flowerpot except it is all in motion. An exquisite piece of art. I also love the appearance of the blonde maple with the ebony stripe and cap. I fell in love with this banjo the first time I saw a photo of it.
It appears sturdy and the gears keep it nicely in tune. I've already taken it out to a couple performances and in the field and it holds up very well.
I love Recording King and Ali and Greg. They have been very generous with me and I've only had positive dealings with them.
They offered to fix the part that was damaged in shipping, but it was easier and quicker for me to have it done here.
I think this banjo is worth about double of what you would pay for a new one. It is a nice all around clawhammer banjo that looks as nice onstage as it does in the campground. The gears work nicely and everything about it sounds good. I may in the future, change the bridge to a moon bridge (because I like them) and the head to a real skin head--but the sound is so nice as is that I'm hesitant to change anything at the moment. The neck fits my hand well, not too thin or thick and it fingers easily and in tune all the way up the neck.
This is about the nicest banjo I've seen in this price range. You can buy this banjo from Elderly Instruments for just under a grand and it is one of the best deals around. It sounds and plays much like a Wildwood Troubador that I owned years ago--except the Ne Plus ultra has a prettier tone, and it is actually prettier with the fancy inlay and the contrasting maple and ebony woods.
Please don't steal this banjo--it has my name on it--and I love it.
Review of John Bowlin 1865 Fretless
April 21, 2008
Review for John Bowlin 1865 Fretless
Big booming sound with gut strings, skin head--very robust and fun to play.
Sounded wonderful right out of the box. John marked where to put the bridge very well --easy set up.
Lovely with elegant dark wood, dark fingerboard, hardware is antiqued.
Looks like a vintage 19th century banjo, but with new parts and construction that make it so easy to play. I particularly love it that the fingerboard is glossy.
Everything quality. In fact, I plan to take it in June on a tour from Tallahassee to Pasadena to Albuquerque to Brasstown, then back to Tally again. This is the first minstrel type of banjo that I have felt comfortable with on the road in changing climates. I took it festival camping last weekend and it played quite well around the campfire at night.
In fact, the folks camped next door who we didn't know, came over the next morning and said "What was that big banjo you were playing last night? My husband and I think that is the most beautiful banjo we have ever heard. "
I love John Bowlin. He is such a gentlemen and I enjoyed every communication with him. :)
I hope there will be John Bowlin Society gatherings in the future--I would love to meet him and his lovely wife in the future. (She is a wonderful quilter)
I love the little period tuning wrench he slipped into the case. I'm really tempted to wear it as a necklace. :) Also, the bridge is heavy duty and carved like a heart. The whole banjo is very elegant with a romantic, yet boisterous personality.
Sure--this banjo was a wonderful value.
I'd cry if someone stole it. Please don't steal it because it would not fit your hand or play nicely at all for you. It was made especially for me and would not sound as good for anyone else. Also, my sons would hunt you down and take it away from you and they may even use violence--so it's best to not even think about taking my banjo.