The Cash Box Kings
The Cash Box Kings were formed by harp player Joe Nosek in 2001. They released their debut album “Live! at The King Club” in 2003. Chicago born vocalist Oscar Wilson joined the band in 2007. In 2011 The Cash Box Kings signed with Blind Pig Records and released three albums. Their 2013 album “Black Toppin’” resulted in them winning a Blues Blast Award for Traditional Blues Album of The Year. The Cash Box Kings last album, 2015’s “Holding Court”, garnered them three Blues Music Award nominations including one for Band of The Year. This is the bands first album for Alligator Records and ninth overall.
The current band lineup is Nosek, harp and vocals; Oscar “43rd Street” Wilson, vocals; Billy Flynn, guitar; Joel Paterson, guitar; Brad Ber, upright and electric bass; and either Mark Haines or Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith, drums. Additional musicians for this recording include “Cash Box Queen” Lee Kanehira, piano; Mel Ford, rhythm guitar; and the C Note Horns including Al Falaschi, sax; Darren Sterud, trombone; and Jim Doherty, trumpet. The album is dedicated to the memory of their band mate pianist Barrelhouse Chuck.
The bands dedication to preserving traditional blues is demonstrated by the inclusion of seven well selected covers. Born in Chicago in 1953 Wilson grew up surrounded by blues artists such as Junior Wells, Elmore James and David “Honeyboy” Edwards. Wilson lived on 43rd St. which has since been renamed Muddy Waters Drive. His family used to host Friday night fish fries that would turn into Jam sessions. It is appropriate then that the CBK open with a song entitled “House Party”. It is a great vocal from Wilson with some fat tones from Nosek on harp and Falaschi on sax. Paterson and Flynn are on their respective guitars.
Wilson’s vocal inspirations include Jimmy Reed. “I’m Gonna Get My Baby” was recorded by Reed in 1958 on Vee Jay Records. Wilson’s infectious vocal is perfect on this tune. Nosek excels on harp while Kanehira can be heard pounding the keys in the background.
Muddy Waters was another big influence on Wilson whose voice is a “soulful roar like Waters”. “Flood” is a Waters tune recorded in December of 1952. Flynn’s guitar playing here also sounds just like Waters. Nosek and Kanehira are terrific. Alex Hall sits in on drums.
“Sugar Sweet” written by record producer Mel London was first recorded by Waters on Chess Records in 1955. Once again pianist Kanehira, Nosek’s harp and Wilson’s vocal are perfect. “I’m A Stranger” was written and recorded by Junior Wells on Chief Records in 1961. Chief Records was owned by London.
“Traveling Riverside Blues” is a Robert Johnson tune recorded in June of 1937; the only accompaniment is Paterson on a National guitar. “All Night Long” written and originally recorded by Clifton Chenier in 1955 features Kanehira on piano and a great guitar solo from Flynn.
Nosek is also an accomplished songwriter. “Build That Wall” is a topical tune torn from today’s newspaper headlines. Nosek sings lead on his “Daddy Bear Blues” with a great piano solo from Kanehira and Flynn playing mandolin. “Don’t Let Life Tether You Down” is a delightful piece sung by Nosek with Kanehira on piano.
Nosek and Wilson have co-written “Blues For Chi-Raq” about Wilson’s old neighborhood, featuring guitarist Flynn, Smith on drums and Falaschi on both tenor and baritone saxes. They have also written the hilarious “If You Got a Jealous Woman Facebook Ain’t Your Friend”. Wilson also contributes “I Came All The Way From Chi-Town” once again featuring Paterson solo on his National.
The older Wilson is both vocalist and historian. The younger Nosek is a fabulous harp player and songwriter. Their partnership is what makes The Cash Box Kings so much fun. Look for them to garner some more recognition at next years Blues Music Awards.
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