January 25, 2008
for Danny and family
Kansas City became a small town on the coldest night of the year in a church off the Plaza and all for one person: Danny Cox.
Hundreds of people of all ages warmed the pews at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church to listen to a list of KC favorites: Brewer & Shipley, Bob Walkenhorst, The Elders, Jeff Porter and Rock Paper Scissors. Folks paid $20 for the privilege and bought CDs for $15 and signed posters for $10. All proceeds went to the Cox Family.
In early January, you see, the Cox family house in Kansas City, KS burned to the ground. Danny’s collection of instruments, family photos, memorabilia from 40 years of music and activism are now part of the scorched earth. In fact, Cox had been rehearsing for a play called House with No Walls at the Unicorn Theatre and one of the lines in the production is “Nothin’ grows on scorched earth.”
But that isn’t true in Kansas City. Love grows. And it showed itself on that cold Sunday night. Roger & Liz Coleman, pastors of Pilgrim Chapel, and Michael and Kaye Johnston, long-time musician friends, helped bring the musicians together, got the food and tickets donated from local vendors along with the venue donated by All Souls.
It’s what happens when you give of yourself. Cox has been giving to KC for 40 years, from his days at the coffeehouse Vanguard at 42nd & Main, to his performances at the Missouri (now Kansas City) Repertory Theatre, Unicorn and Coterie, to his work in the schools as an artist in residence, to his famous “Troost Blues.”
The Ohio-born Cox began his singing career in a church choir. When he was 18, Cox joined the 1960 Hootenanny Folk Tour. When he came to Kansas City, MO in 1963, segregation still gripped the city and Cox was forced to cross into the Kansas side to find a place for the night.
Cox helped form Good Karma Productions, which managed the acts of Brewer and Shipley and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. At one time, Cox owned the famed KC music hall, Cowtown Ballroom. In recent years, Cox has been making his name in Kansas City theatre.
Cox spoke briefly to introduce his long-time friends and one-time partners in Good Karma Records, Tom Brewer and Mike Shipley. He said that he “knew” people were good, but “seeing” it blew him a way. He told a rapt audience that five days after his world burned down, his father died.
It’s not often that a city gets to pay back. They did last Sunday.
Another benefit for the Cox Family Fund will be held on Sunday, Jan. 27, 3:30 pm, at the Glenwood Arts Theater, 95th & Metcalf. Ben Meade, local documentary filmmaker, will preview his new film American Music: Off the Record. Tickets are $10. The film is about the creeping “corporatization” of the music industry. Many Kansas City musicians are in the film. Another fundraiser for Cox will be held at Knuckleheads on Feb. 17 featuring The Elders.
Vicki Walker is a KC-based writer and host of KC Media Watch Dogs on KKFI, Mondays at 9:30 am.
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