GenresAmericana, Country, Folk rock, Blues Rockabilly, Alt-Country, Singer songwriter, Bluegrass, Roots More...
LocationOmaha NE United States
Sounds LikeJohn Prine, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Greg Brown
Digital Locationhttp://www.mattcoxmusic.net musicpage.com/mattcox
HistoryMember since: 08/04/2014 Year Founded: 2002
- Original material: 04 hrs : 00 min
- Cover material: 01 hrs : 00 min
- CDs released: 5
- CDs sold: 5000
- Digital songs sold: 5000
- Original Songs: 100
- Average Draw: 100
- Largest crowd: 1,000
- Have sound: Full PA
- Licensed songs: 0
Shenandoah, Iowa, native Matt Cox self-released his debut album Folker's Travels in 2007 and established himself as a vibrant part of the emerging Omaha, Nebraska singer/songwriter scene. While local and regional stages allowed him to bring his foot-stomping, old-time country and blues to a steadily growing fanbase, Cox began to define his singular style and road worn vocals by touring a good part of the western United States and reaching new audiences in places like Denver, Phoenix, LA, and San Francisco, as well as Austin, TX (where he was invited to perform at SXSW). In 2009, Cox released his second group of songs entitled My Last Dollar and spearheaded another grassroots-style tour with stops in music meccas like St. Louis, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, and again at Austin's prodigious SXSW festival.
After returning to Omaha, what started out as a trio consisting of friends Seth Ondracek (bass) and Ben Zinn (guitars/pedal steel), soon became a full-steam ahead five-piece known as The Matt Cox Band with the additions of piano man Nick Semrad and Andrew Tyler on drums. Cox and his band quickly gained the attention of heartland concert promoters and club owners, and began sharing stages with well-known national acts like Son Volt, Railroad Earth, and William Elliot Whitmore. During the spring of 2011, the well-oiled MCB went to Lincoln, Nebraska's Fuse Recording Studio with engineer Charlie Johnson, and recorded (over the course of two days) what would become Tracks In The Sound (Slo-fi, 2011) before the band's short lived time together ended as members pursued opportunities and families outside of their home state.
This transition allowed Cox to refine his skills as a guitar player and songsmith while continuing to perform as a solo artist for the next two years until introducing a new cast of players in 2013, including longtime friends Walker Gerard (drums), Vern Fergesen (bass), and Colin Duckworth (guitars/pedal steel). In 2014, Nishnabotna, the fourth album from Matt Cox, was released on Sower Records and nominated for Album of the Year by the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards.
'The Cost Of Everything And The Value Of Nothing' is the fifth studio album from Matt Cox released July 15, 2016 on Sower Records. The self-produced album was recorded live on December 19, 2015 at Hidden Tracks Recording Studio, in Omaha, Nebraska by Jeremy Garrett and mastered by Doug Van Sloan at Focus Mastering. The performances, featuring longtime friends Colin Duckworth (pedal steel, guitars, mandolin), Vern Fergesen (accordion, piano), and Josh Dunwoody (upright bass), are a nearly untouched portrayal of what the songs would sound like in a live setting, or living room, with no use of scratch tracks and very few overdubs. The mood is steeped in old time traditions of American roots music with tracks “Jumping’ River Blues,” “Little Lucy,” and “Nighttime Drifter” highlighting Cox’s abilities as a slide guitarist as well as his signature harmonica style, while stripped-back works like “Drama Queen” and “The Charcoal Grill Song” offer a more introspective glimpse at the songwriter’s personal life.
Now a six-time Omaha Entertainment and Arts Award winner for Best Country/Americana and Best Blues, the caliber of artist Matt Cox has become in the studio and on stage is being recognized regionally, and across the nation. Cox continues to play shows with an ever-changing lineup of the area’s top talent and a raw energy that reveals the passion and experience that friends share with each other on stage and off.
The Cost of Everything
An Emotional Compendium to Matt Cox’s Newest Album
Matt Cox's newest album begins with the death of his mother and ends with the collapse of all humankind, and somewhere in between is a critique on the excesses of 21st-century America. For all that, The Cost of Everything and the Value of Nothing, a repurposing of an Oscar Wilde quote, give or take a word, is oddly optimistic and slightly utopian.
"I don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about the cost and price of things anymore as much as I do the belief that there're things more valuable than money in life," Cox, 35, said from his Dundee basement hermitage while nursing a beer and listening to an old Elmore James record.
It's a sharp emotional turn since last we met the singer-songwriter along the banks of his 2014 release Nishnabotna, his first with Sower Records. At that time, Cox's amalgamation of roots, folk, country and blues longed for the past and scoffed at any possibility of a silver-lined future. Now things are different. Now he's a husband. Now he's a father. Now he can appreciate "the simpler things in life."
To the untrained ear, The Cost of Everything... will probably sound like a pickup-truck commercial. After all, automobile companies have been appropriating the Americana tradition for decades to peddle beefy Hemis to wannabe cowboys. The only difference is Cox is marketing his product at the bargain-bin price of a CD, o.b.o.
The more sophisticated listener, that is, those whose gas-guzzlers lack ball sacks and decals of little cartoon boys peeing, might hear something entirely different. To them, the album will probably echo how NPR sounds when they tune into All Things Considered and forget it's a Sunday afternoon.
Either way, the six-time OEAA award winner's newest album, slated to drop July 15 on Sower Records, will sound all-too familiar, like it's been written before, like it'll be written again. And, to be fair, that's probably the point. But underneath that top-heavy layer of genre and expert musicianship remains a unique coming-of-age story that will captivate anyone with a pulse. You just have to know where to look.
The Charcoal Grill Song
Cox didn't set out to write the lyrics to a song when he authored the first track of his fifth studio album. He was just spilling his guts in the form of a letter to his dear, departed mother who had died of cancer a few years earlier.
“There wasn’t necessarily a charcoal grill that I had in mind," Cox said. "But just thinking about her when I got to writing those words and writing about if we could have one last meal, I decided it wouldn’t have to be some big fancy thing, I think it’d be roasting some burnt weenies at a park somewhere or by a campfire.”
Throughout the track, against a folksy backdrop, Cox's speak-sing vocals move his letter forward, line by line, eventually delivering the record's most effective chorus and the moral of the song: Don't take the present for granted.
"Well, time is what you make of it/And routine is the enemy of time/We do the same thing every day/While it all goes flying by/Oh, mama, how it all goes flying by."
If The Cost of Everything... professes an anti-cynical disposition, then "Half-Empty" betrays the album's theme in name alone. Of course when Cox decided to revisit it in an old notebook, the song itself was already 10 years old.
For the better part of the bluesy, up-tempo tune, Cox as a young man airs his financial woes: "You pay 'em one bill and they send you 10 more."
"I find it funny that I wrote it when I was in my mid-20s," he said with a half-smirk. "The words in it are so much more true now than they were then."
When the Iowa native wrote "Nighttime Drifter," Cox said he was channeling "The Stones in a drab basement recording Exile on Main St."
And if the singer-songwriter hadn't given his muse away himself, perhaps the song's Jagger-esque harmonica solo would have. Otherwise, the third track serves as a brief respite from the album's emotionally heavier material in the form of a drinking song.
"I wrote it when I was probably half-cocked," he said. "They're not the most brilliant lyrics in the world, but it's a fun party tune — I think anybody knocking back a couple could appreciate it."
After a near-fatal car accident in his late teens that tore his automobile all but to shreds, Cox said his grandpa visited him in the hospital and declared that he still had a purpose in this lifetime to have had survived such a wreck.
Cox spent the next 13 or so years wondering what that purpose was. And then he met his wife and his stepdaughter, Lauren, who is the namesake of track four.
"Until I finally met her, her mom, and this life, I don't know that I ever fully believed that he was right, that there was a real purpose," he said. "I finally feel like I found that purpose, what he was talking about."
Inspired by yet another pet name for his stepdaughter, the record's only instrumental track puts the energy of the album on full display. To achieve this raw but polished sound, Cox recorded the entirety of The Cost of Everything... in studio with a live band including Colin Duckworth (pedal steel, guitars, mandolin), Vern Fergesen (accordion, piano), and Josh Dunwoody (upright bass).
"We definitely found a vibe and an energy in the recording that I don't think I've had in any other recording I've done before," he said.
Trouble All Over the World
The album's de facto single was another salvaged song from another long-lost notebook that Cox remembered he had after the November 2015 Paris attacks:
"I see trouble all over this world/Every town, every country/Every boy, every girl,"
A Good Woman's Love
Originally written by Cy Coben, the bluegrassy waltz was performed at Cox's wedding last year by a dear friend. Cox decided to do his own version on The Cost of Everything... as a tribute to his wife.
Jumpin' River Blues
The piecemeal medley that is track eight sings like a lonely service station off of I-80 east. Take the following line for example: "When I get down to that river/I'm gonna see if all my trouble can swim."
"I think I got that line from a hat that I saw at a truck stop somewhere," he said. "Tried to drown my problems but she learned how to swim' — something real redneck like that."
"Happy Home" was inspired by a conversation Cox had with his father right before he left home to pursue a music career:
"Things are not always going to be perfectly laid out for you and smooth," Cox said, remembering his father's advice. "You're going to have to make hard decisions and sometimes you gotta gamble."
Our Great Escape
Cox was cleaning windows outside of The Great Escape movie theatre one day last year when a thought occurred to him: We're screwed. Human beings, that is.
"We work and we work and we try for prosperity and we save and we save and eventually it's like, 'the extinction of mankind is going to happen,'" he said. "We're all saving for our great escape."
For all the doom and gloom that the album's coda espouses, when juxtaposed with the rest of the songs, Cox's last track seems to reveal the songwriter's final moral act:
"My idea of success is not having an overabundance: Not too much space, not too many things," he said. "It's being comfortable with where I'm at."
Off The Record: Tunes, Tours and MoreJuly 29, 2016
The Cost Of Everything And The Value Of Nothing is the latest and fifth full studio album from Omaha musician Matt Cox. Cox is an old soul whose roots and music are steeped in the sounds bluegrass and Americana music. Cox has established himself as an emerging artist in the Omaha singer/songwriter scene and a growing fan base. Cox’s musical talents and abilities are highlighted on this album, from his abilities as a slide guitarist, which are highlighted on songs like “Jumping River Blues, Little Lucy and Nighttime Drifter”. These songs also showcase Cox’s signature harmonica style, however the most meaningful songs can be the simplest and those sentiments are echoed on “Drama Queen” and “The Charcoal Grill Song”, which offer a glimpse into the singer’s personal life and the love and value of family. There is cohesiveness in the way Cox’s guitar, voice and harmonica blend together. It’s the latter two songs that really showcase Cox’s honesty and genuineness as an artist, the mood is both heartfelt and somber. Each song depicts Cox’s definition of love one for his daughter and one for mother both a thing beauty. Cox’s depiction of life through his musical landscape is not done alone, he is supported by his band and longtime friends, Colin Duckworth pedal steel, guitars and mandolin, Vern Fergesen accordion and piano, and Josh Dunwoody upright bass. Strong instrumental intros combined with Cox’s raspy, country drawl is real Americana as its best, personal, honest, real it seems for Cox his life is a depiction of his art from start to finish.
Omaha DispatchJuly 15, 2016
Americana Roots - Award-winning singer-songwriter Matt Cox releases his fifth album this week
“The Cost of Everything and The Value of Nothing” opens with the slow-burning, pedal steel-infused tune called "The Charcoal Grill Song." It's a brilliant beginning to the new collection of songs from six-time OEA Award-winning Omaha singer-songwriter Matt Cox, pictured.
It's the fifth album from guitarist-singer-harmonica player Cox, who is joined by longtime bandmates Colin Duckworth (pedal steel, guitars, mandolin), Vern Fergesen (accordion, piano), and Josh Dunwoody (upright bass).
From “The Charcoal Grill Song,” the 10-song set takes off from there, with the harp-fueled rambler "Half Empty," and continues chugging along with the instrumental "Little Lucy" and "Trouble All Over the World." "Jumpin' River Blues," if I had to pick just one, is my favorite of the bunch. I think it captures Cox's free spirit quite well.
You'll be able to experience that lively and inviting spirit in person this week as Cox & Co. celebrate the release of the Wilde-inspired “The Cost of Everything and The Value of Nothing.”
On Saturday (July 16), Cox will play the storied Zoo Bar in Lincoln, and on Sunday (July 17), he'll perform at the Waiting Room in Omaha. I suggest catching one of those shows, if not both.
Hear NebraskaJuly 13, 2016
A few hot tempered staff scurry around Omaha’s Tiger Tom’s Sports Pub one busy afternoon, but Matt Cox speaks softly, juxtaposing the chaos of a standalone pub at lunch break against his cool demeanor. He sports a baseball cap with a fraying bill, a physical representation of his laid-back, introspective songwriting. Occasionally, only in conversation, Cox matches the hustled pace, launching into stories about cookouts with his mother and failed relationships and staring out into his backyard when he strummed his guitar.
The Americana/country musician finds most of his inspiration when his environment is calm. During chaos, he says, he can become consumed by the drama and tragedy, resulting in the suffocation of his creative process. His guitar doesn’t seem to strum quite the same and lyrics feel more forced, too honest and tainted by hardships. An environment with hypothetical swarms of annoyed bartenders.
One night this past December, while recording The Cost Of Everything And The Value Of Nothing, Cox was calm. From 10 a.m. to 3 a.m., with frozen pizza and Pabst breaks, Cox and his friends recorded his fifth studio album at Hidden Tracks Recording Studio. The album — set to release on July 15 — is a product of being in the right environment at the right time. Cox said he recorded there because he liked the acoustics in the studio’s living room. He and guitarist Colin Duckworth, upright bassist Josh Dunwoody and pianist Vern Fergesen played music that felt right and, alternatively, sipped beer and hung out when it didn’t.
“It was a very in-the-moment process,” Cox says. “There were really no redos with the vocals which gave it a live feel.”
Seventeen hours resulted in 20 songs, ten of which evolved into an album. The Cost Of Everything And The Value Of Nothing takes the listener through memories reminiscent of Cox’s calm-during-the-storm coolness (“Drama Queen” and “Happy Home”) and songs stemming from hardships through which Cox lacked inspiration (“Nighttime Drifter”). Cox knew which songs would make the cut as he recorded them, depending on the ease of process.
“Music is like sports,” Cox says. “You need momentum. Ride the high and address songs that were tougher.”
Three years before, Cox was victim to a lack of necessary momentum. His mother was diagnosed with cancer in August 2012 and died only six months later. A month before she died, Cox nervously gave his girlfriend Emily’s one-year-old daughter a copy of the Beatles 1. Cox had only been seeing Emily for a while and was apprehensive about relationships in general. He was about to lose his mom and had been living on his own, kicked out after a previous relationship ended.
In 2015, things started looking up. His relationship flourished and Matt married Emily that spring. It was a year after Cox’s fourth studio album, Nishnabotna, was released and subsequently nominated for Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards’ Album of the Year. His inspiration thrived as the normalcy and calm of his life set in. He shared a kitchen with big bay windows he often stared out of as he strummed his guitar. Those windows overlooked a lush backyard, his daughter’s oasis.
And she, in turn, is his world. “Drama Queen,” one of the album’s more personal tracks, uses the potential dismissal as a term of endearment for Cox’s daughter. She’s four years old this year and he’s convinced everything is dramatic, but he’ll love her through the good and bad.
“The Charcoal Grill Song,” is studded with similar themes. Originally a letter addressed to Cox’s mom written while he was engaged, the song combines his tender, personal vocals with a simple desire for one more meal with his mother. It’s a powerful, intimate moment on the album, a moment similar to those of stability that Cox relies on to make his best music.
The Cost Of Everything And The Value Of Nothing is a tribute to Cox’s memories, like grilling with his mother and hesitation about falling in love during a time riddled with loss. It’s an honest progression to a serene, inspired place with a backdrop of a sprawling backyard and slack-key guitar. It’s what’s to come and where Cox is going and evolving with a family that’s dramatic, loving and anchoring.
“I owe my stability to my family,” Cox says. “It comes with growing up.”
Hear NebraskaJune 08, 2016
Americana singer/songwriter Matt Cox has announced his fifth studio album, The Cost of Everything and the Value of Nothing, out July 15 on Sower Records.
The LP is very much an introspective continuation of the six-time OEAA-winner’s traditional Americana work. Self-produced and recorded at Hidden Tracks Studio in Omaha, it boasts a “nearly untouched portrayal” of his live, full-band sound, utilizing little post-production or overdub to replicate a live feel. It features performances by longtime collaborators Colin Duckworth (pedal steel, guitars, mandolin), Vern Fergesen (accordion, piano) and Josh Dunwoody (upright bass).
The Cost of Everything and the Value of Nothing will be available on Itunes and CD Baby as well as local record stores beginning July 15. Album release shows set for Saturday, July 16 at Zoo Bar and Sunday, July 17 at Waiting Room.
Hear NebraskaAugust 21, 2014
Matt Cox isn’t the sort of artist who strikes you as performing in pain. He doesn’t yelp, holler or throttle himself around.
On the contrary the Omaha country/folk artist sings in a kind of rural, unphasable texture, not unlike that of fellow Iowa native William Elliott Whitmore. Rain or shine, Matt Cox’s guitar, voice and harmonica will live in absolute harmony.
So then it’s surprising in some ways to find that Cox has recounted the year of writing his new album Nishnabotna by the number of funerals he’s been unfortunate enough to attend. Four or five, including those of close family. And so the songs on Nishnabotna come from a personal place, home in Shenandoah, Iowa when home was a place of grief as much as it was comfort. Yet, the songs are an even keel on the rocky waters of the album’s namesake river.
Songs like “Country Rose” and “Gainesville Girl” digest a kind of rural-flavored heartache and deliver it to the audience as soulful, unflappable country. And this feeling is helped along by increased tinkering within Cox’s full band, endowing stripped songs with drums and bass that hold their hand through the more somber moments. Inevitably, Cox’s husky drawl will carry them upward at the end of things, its own kind of reconciliation. In short, Matt Cox the singer would never strand Matt Cox the songwriter.
Nishnabotna was released two weeks ago on Sower Records. You can see Cox Friday at Zoo Bar with Jack Hotel, Gerardo Meza and The Bottle Tops, but right now he joins us on Hear Nebraska FM.
OmahypeAugust 07, 2014
Hamburg, Iowa-born and Omaha-based singer, songwriter and musician Matt Cox is releasing his fourth studio album, Nishnabotna, tomorrow night at the Waiting Room. We’re happy to debut a track from the new album. Listen to “Summer Peaches” below, a bare-boned acoustic ballad recalling the sleepy beauty of dreary summer days gone by. Let Cox’s gravelly voice lull you away, he’s got that innate ability to sound wiser than his years on this earth might lead you to otherwise believe.
Omaha DispatchAugust 07, 2014
Matt Cox is one of the area’s most respected songwriters and performers. He's won five Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards and cultivated a loyal fan-base of both music fans and musicians. His comforting voice, honest lyrics, subtle drawl and guitar-driven songs pull the listener in.
Cox's new album, Nishnabotna
(pictured below), finds him writing his most personal album to date, and it's a solid work from start to finish. The album is made up of solo tracks and songs with his band, along with area musicians and it gives roots music fans a lot to take in and absorb. It’s his best work to date.
Cox will celebrate the release of Nishnabotna FRIDAY (August 8) at the Waiting Room Lounge with a stacked lineup that also includes Sarah Benck, the Filter Kings and the Electroliners. I recently talked with Cox and bandmate Walker Gerard about the writing and recording of Nishnabotna.
Worlds of WayneAugust 02, 2014
On this episode I welcome Matt Cox. Joined by his drummer Walker, we chat about his new upcoming record and release party. With a combination of Americana, blues, and country, Matt Cox's music shines with an honest, authentic sound. Check out our interview and listen for a few songs from the upcoming album titled "Nishnabotna."
Hear NebraskaJuly 29, 2014
“Gavin’s Point Dam” doesn’t start small — a deluge of muddy water wipes out a dam.
But it does grow. After Matt Cox’s song chronicles the soaking of Midwestern flood-planes, it presses beyond just water into various social onslaughts. The song sees social security failing, politicians floundering. The breaking of Gavins Point Dam was, perhaps, the proverbial last straw for humanity.
“Gavin’s Point Dam” is the second track from Cox’s forthcoming full-length, Nishnabotna, due out Aug. 8 on Sower Records. It’s the Omaha folk musician’s fourth studio album, his first release in three years. The album was recorded and mastered at Hidden Tracks Studio and J Garrett Sound Productions, and Nishnabotna will be released in Omaha at The Waiting Room on Aug. 8 and in Lincoln at Zoo Bar on Aug. 22.
Both the album title and the song title refer to spots along the Missouri River, although Gavins Point Dam is on the border of South Dakota and Nebraska and the Nishnabotna tributary begins much further south.
It’s a boot-dragging, rhythmic ballad with an unexpected key change, musically ushering in the expansion of a tune about levies into a song about humanity’s relationship to nature — an increasingly ominous one.