<< Go to Jim Cox - Part 1
JC - Yea I got that thing, I had it together and it was sounding great. After some of the other bands heard it they wanted to borrow it to record with because it sounded great. Bill Harrell used it quite a few times on his recordings. Stoney Edwards was playing bass with them and borrowed it
They took a picture at an old house or something that had a big fire place and they stood all the instruments up beside the fireplace built out of old rocks… creek stone I think. They were going to take a picture for the album cover and my bass fell over and hit one of those stones and the neck broke off of it.
BD - Oh Man!
JC - Yea it busted right off against the grain. It was crossways
BD – Crossways?
JC - Yea if it had been straight up and down I don’t believe it would have broke. It broke clean in two.
BD - So what did you do with the bass after that?
JC - Well I put that thing back together.
BD - Again?
JC - Yea, fixed it back up and Stoney used it one night after that. Said it even sounded better than it did before. He said it’s louder that it was before.
BD – So what kind of set up do you prefer? I mean back then did you have someone set the bass up for you or did you do all your own work?
JC - No I did it all myself. Well what I did to start with before I glued that fingerboard back on…. You know how basses have that ridge that comes up and then it goes round about half way then that top part cuts of kind of steep like that and leaves a ridge up there. I don’t know what its purpose is. I guess it’s for people that play with a bow. First thing I did is I rounded that neck to ground off the sides.
BD - You’re talking about where the E string is?
JC - Yea, well I took that ridge off through there. Then I cut the neck down and made it a lot narrower. This way so you could reach around it easier and everybody that played that thing just loved it because it was a lot easier on your hands you know.
BD – So you were talking about how most players slap with their palm on the E string. And you already told us about how pull the strings to get your slap sound. But I notice when you tape your fingers up you make that little ball, sort of a hook. Is that to help you pull the string better?
JC - Well your finger gets awfully tired if you don’t. It’s easier on your index finger than your middle finger.
BD - Do you tape both those fingers or just the index finger?
JC - No I just tape the index finger.
BD - Do you notice specific ways other players tape their fingers? Or any kind of special things that they do?
JC - Not really… except a lot of them have that same slap Like John Palmer…you know and he was good at it. He was great.
BD – Okay, so tell me some more about your bass. A lot of bass players will buy an adjustable bridge. You know… the kind that has metal adjustable piece in it.
Instead of whittling one, or sanding one down to fit, what’s your view on that? Do you think it takes away from the instrument and the tone?
JC - I don’t believe it makes a difference. I think that’s what mine’s got on it now.
BD - Yea I know where you got that one at (laughing).
JC - You gave it to me didn’t you...
BD - No I traded [laughter] I got you to autograph your old one.
JC - Yea [laughter]
BD - And I feel like I made out better in the deal [Laughing]
JC - It does… it sounds good.
BD – I’ve heard mixed reviews about that. Some people think that the metal deadens the sound a little bit
JC - I don’t believe it does. At least I haven’t had anyone complain about the sound of mine. In fact they say it sounds better than the other.
BD - How many different types of basses have you owned I mean just The Kay and the one you have now?
JC - That’s the only two I’ve had… yea.
BD – What’s the one you play now?
JC - I don’t know… it’s made in Italy I think… but I’m not sure what brand it is. It’s just a one step above the cheapest thing they make. It’s got the ebony fingerboard. It was 850 dollars and you can’t get a bass for less than that. If it’s less it won’t have the ebony fingerboard on it.
BD - Right.
JC - And there’s no use in putting one of those soft boards on it because it’ll wear out.
BD - I notice you had a piece of nylon cord on the bass rod inside. What’s that for?
JC - Oh that’s just setting. That just to put the sound post back up if it falls.
BD - Someone had told me that it fell on you once before and you had to put it back and you left the string in case.
JC - Yea, Yea we made it a little bit longer…and I bought one of those rods…
BD - Wooden dowel?
JC - Yea I bought one the same size as that and cut it a little bit longer. So I wouldn’t have to pull it up there, because it was cut too short and if you loosened the strings it would fall down.
BD - It sounds pretty good!
JC - The strings were holding it before, but it’ll stay up by itself now if you loosen the strings.
BD - Do you play any instruments other than the bass?
JC - I try to play the guitar, but I’m not much of a guitar player. I played a little banjo a long time ago. I had somebody teaching me, I was learning the rolls… you know… forward and backward… but my teacher went in the navy and got shipped out and I never could find anybody else to give me lessons.
BD – Too bad...
JC - But I didn’t have the speed… you know I could do Cripple Creek slow but I couldn’t do it fast like good banjo players can. My teacher said that would come with practice, but I never got there.
BD - Who do you currently play with now?
JC – Playing with Quay White these days.
Jim playing with Quay White, Dean Hubbard, Tommy Taylor
BD - Quay White? The famous Quay White?
JC - Yeah the famous Quay White and The Golden Age Grass.
BD - Who else is in that group?
JC – Tommy Taylor…
BD - Tommy Taylor?... Terror of Tazewell County?
JC - Yea the real cowboy.
JC - Yeah the last cowboy! He plays the harmonica. Good man! Good friend too.
I was in the nursing home when Quay and Dean Hubbard and his group came in and played music for us. I told him I wanted to compliment Dean on his banjo playing because he’s really good.
BD - Right, Dean is one of the better pickers.
JC – So I was talking to him and told him I used to play banjo a long time ago and I appreciated his playing. I told him I played bass with a lot folks and someone said, “Who did you play with?” I said I played with the Country Gentlemen and Dean and Quay looked at me. All of them looked at me as if this old man was a little crazy. Quay will tell you they didn’t believe a word of it.
Well my daughter came in a few days later and she said to one of them “You ought to hear my Dad sing and play the bass” and Dean Hubbard made a comment about the Country Gentlemen being one of his favorite groups and she said well you ought to hear my Dad… he played with the Gentlemen.
BD - There you go! So they took a second look at you huh?
JC - I told them one day when I have my bass here I’ll sit in with you and do a couple and see how it works. At that time they said yea, but they didn’t believe it. Well they came in the next Tuesday. I brought my old bass out and played. When they played the first song Dean said “Yea that man played with the Gentlemen cause he’s got that Charlie Waller walk!”
BD – [Laughter] Got a Charlie Waller walk!
JC – He said that man has that Charlie Waller walk on the bass… he surely played with him!
BD – That’s great! Well let’s switch gears again.Tell us a little about that lifetime achievement award that you got during the convention over here. I know what you said on stage. But with all your accomplishments you sure have earned that thing, How does it feel to get an award like that?
JC - Well I feel good that people think that much of me, but I never thought I was that great. I never thought I was good.
BD - Well I certainly look up to you and so do a lot of other people in Tazewell. In fact a lot of people outside of Tazewell look up to you. Also I had never knew you had played at the Grand Ol’ Opry. Can you tell us a little about that?
JC - It was 1948.
BD - What group did you play with?
JC - They were a band from Alabama. I didn’t actually play with them. I just sang. They had the music but they didn’t have a good singer and I sang with them.
BD - How did you wind up in that area at that time?
JC - With the service, I was in the service in ‘48
BD - Is there anyone else that you have played with other than the Gentlemen and Patsy Cline that you might consider notable?
JC - Frank Necessary, Al Jones and Buzz Busby. When I first came to Washington Buzz had a TV show. There was Buzz Busby, Pete Pike and the Bayou Boys. They had a TV show every evening at Four o’clock on channel 4.
I never thought I would ever get to play with anybody like that, But I got to meet and play with every one of them.
BD - Are you on any albums?
JC - Yea I’m on the Folkway label. Isn’t that the one the Smithsonian puts out?
BD - Right, right.
JC - I’m on that label. We’ve got a little piece in there. It was funny how we recorded that. I was outside in a different room than the rest of the guys because Mike Seeger had trouble with my bass being too loud in that building and no matter how soft I played it was coming through to loud.
So they put me in a different room and I used a little peep hole to see everybody else standing in their room. Then I used a speaker coming out of the wall.
Folkways Country Gentlemen Album with Jim Cox
We cut a whole album using different rooms. [laughter]
BD – That’s funny. Well Jim… I guess I’ve taken enough of your time today. Thanks so much for sharing things with me.
JC – Thank you [Picks up a guitar and starts playing Freight Train.]
<< Go to Jim Cox - Part 1