Catching Up with Kyle Cox at the Vintage Estate in Boardman, Ohio

Catching Up with Kyle Cox at the Vintage Estate in Boardman, Ohio

I’ve been a Kyle Cox fan for – we determined last week – four years now. He sent us a YouTube video of a duet that was wonderful. The next year I wrote about some of his music and did an interview with him. We’ve stayed in touch ever since. I got my first chance to meet him in person last week at the Vintage Estate in Boardman, Ohio. It was a great time chatting and finally meeting.

But before I talk about what a nice guy Kyle is, I have to say that his musical ability absolutely holds up in the live show. I had asked him the week prior to the show for him to play “Bring Us To Our Best,” the challenging, heart-wrenching opening song from his EP Blueprints. The studio version of the song is stunning, blending guitar and piano with Kyle’s matter-of-fact vocal style for a comforting track that allows the message to seep deep within. Hearing it live in front of a rack of beer and wine at the Vintage Estate was just as impactful. Cox’s ability to wrap the room around his delivery was evident. As he sang about the scenarios of hope in our lives, there were nods around the room. “It’s in every bead of sweat that brings us to our best.” You couldn’t pick a much better place to say such a thing than eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Kyle was absolutely made for the Rust Belt.

It was really a treat to hear Kyle’s hour-long set. There with an acoustic guitar, an amp, and a speaker, there were no production elements to distract or to wow us. His voice did all the work. And his lyrics – often evidently about his wife – showed the heart of a man who genuinely loves what he does. He’s not selling out arenas (yet!), but his authenticity drips from each well-crafted line. Those who were shocked by the Chris Stapleton rise to fame in the past few months should spend a few spins with Kyle’s work. His homage to past country and pop artists, respect for a life well lived, and introspective style all create an exquisite country/folk fusion that is ripe for much broader commercial success.

Kyle kindly gave me a few moments to chat with him before the show started (and a little later on) in which we were able to discuss a bit more about the industry and his rising role in it. He recently signed with Rock Ridge music and is releasing an EP this summer. I’ll save my comments on that album for a later article, but he did play a few of the tracks for us at the show. Let’s just say the song about “my boots… and my wife… but don’t worry it’s sweet” is as good as it is billed.

Kyle Cox is an extremely talented musician and a great guy. Beyond an amiable performing personality and accessible songs, his guitar work and vocals are top notch. He is the whole package. People are always asking about that “it” factor. In a music industry with thousands of acts, how does it happen? I don’t know the answer to that, but one gets the sense that with Kyle he probably wouldn’t be able to do anything else with his life. I mean – he could work in customer service or sales or something, but really he wouldn’t be himself in those places. He is a songwriter, pure and simple, and the way he can make the rest of us reflect on our lives and our friendships and the way we treat each other; that makes him as much a prophet and a preacher as a songwriter. So what do you say we keep him around? I hope he knows he always has a place to stay in northeast Ohio. And a friend here, too. Cheers.

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