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What are you listening to? Brad Cox

Founder of People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City, co-founder of Owen-Cox Dance Group

Brad Cox


Brad Cox seems to have no problem staying busy.

In addition to founding the People’s Liberation Big Band of Greater Kansas City, he is also the co-founder of the popular Owen/Cox Dance Group — and his work with both groups will be on display next month.

Cox performs with the People’s Liberation Big Band on Dec. 2 at RecordBar, and Owen/Cox’s annual “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” is on Dec. 22 at the Folly Theater. Tickets to the RecordBar show are $5 at therecordbar.com. Tickets to Owen/Cox production are $10-$50 at follytheater.com.

1. What drew you to the “Nutcracker” project? How did you first get involved?

“Our version of ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ started purely as a music concert with narration. I organized it because it just seemed like a fun project for the People’s Liberation Big Band, and the source material from the Tchaikovsky ballet had so many musical possibilities. After we formed Owen/Cox Dance Group, it seemed like the logical extension to make it into a full dance piece.”

2. Have you always been into Christmas music/productions?

“I’m not really into Christmas in general or Christmas music, but somehow I’ve been involved with three different large Christmas performances over the last 10 years or so. I do think it is fun to work with music with which people are likely to have a pre-existing connection.”

3. What kind of music did your parents listen to when you were growing up?

“My mom played classical piano, so I had a few favorite Mozart, Bach and Scarlatti pieces that I would ask her to play from time to time. My dad directed high school choirs and did musical theater for a small junior college. I remember really being into Burt Bacharach’s ‘What do you get when you fall in love?’ from ‘Promises, Promises’ when I was about 5.”

4. What’s the album that influences you the most and why?

“‘The Goldberg Variations’ — that’s kind of cheating, since it is a musical work rather than specific album. I’ve probably listened more to the two Glen Gould recordings than any other recordings.”

5. What’s the most recent album you’ve fallen in love with?

“Krystle Warren & the Faculty, ‘Love Songs: A Time You May Embrace.’ Disclaimer—I arranged a couple of string parts for this album, so I’m totally biased. Krystle writes great songs, she’s got an amazing voice, and she put together a stellar group of musicians and engineers for the recording.”

6. What song helped you find your voice as a musician?

“For me, experiences that redefine what’s possible often most make the strongest impression. Like the first time you hear Stravinsky or Monk or a Mexican banda and have one of those ‘I didn’t know music could sound like THAT’ experiences.”

7. What’s the first album you bought with your own money?

“I think it would be ‘Destroyer’ by Kiss. I bought it primarily for the cover art, although I did really love ‘Detroit Rock City,’ too.”


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