Ronny Cox’s Wikipedia entry describes him as an actor, singer-songwriter and storyteller, but as far as he’s concerned, it’s the other way around. “Storyteller” definitely comes first. That becomes evident as soon as he starts reeling off bits of his history, delivering one fascinating anecdote after another about his music career, his myriad stage and screen roles, and even his lengthy marriage to his high-school sweetheart, the only girlfriend he ever had.
In concert, using nothing more than the power of his projected words, Ronny captivates listeners with all kinds of stories. Some are spoken; some are sung. But either way, he’s employing that age-old art form to forge connections he says he can’t as an actor.
“I love acting, and I’m good at it,” Ronny says, without sounding at all egotistical. But even though he’s recognized as the face and voice of countless film, TV and stage characters, from his indelible debut in Deliverance to his recent turn in Nashville, Ronny confesses, “I don’t love it as much as I do the music — and here’s why. With acting, there is — and must be — that imaginary fourth wall between you and the audience. With my show, there’s a profound one-on-one sharing that can take place.”
He characterizes that experience as addicting — and undeniable.
Ronny starts building intimacy with his audiences the moment they enter each performance space. He actually greets them personally, even if they number in the hundreds, and avoids opening acts — because, he says, “I am the opening act.” Even before he takes the stage, he’s setting the tone, one of warmth and familiarity.
“I want it to feel like when we were kids sitting in the living room or the kitchen or on the front porch, sharing stories and songs with our family,” he says. He also discourages big introductions, preferring to disclose the details of his colorful life in his stories.
“To me, the story is equally as important as the song,” Ronny says. Raconteur that he is, however, he admits, “If I don’t have a story for a song, I’ll make one up.
“Sometimes, with real, true, honest stories, the punch line just doesn’t come in the right place,” he clarifies. “So I don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. Picasso once said, ‘Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.’”