The Cash Box Kings – Royal Mint (2017)

The Cash Box Kings – Royal Mint (2017)
XLD | FLAC | Tracks (Cue&Log) ~ 264 Mb | Scans included | 00:41:08
Modern Chicago Blues | Label: Alligator | # ALCD 4976

The Alligator debut by these masters of houserocking classic Chicago blues, raw Delta blues and rockabilly, features six fresh-as-today’s-headlines originals like "Blues For Chi-Raq," "Build That Wall" and "If You Got A Jealous Woman Facebook Ain’t Your Friend," and reignites songs by Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed and more. A raucous album full of telepathic ensemble playing, whether shuffling hard, jumping like mad or getting down into raw, slow blues.

The Cash Box Kings are dedicated to rocking the house with real deal, old school blues. They’ve mastered the classic 1940s and 50s blues sounds of Chicago’s Chess Records, yet they’re equally at home playing rip-it-up jump blues, lowdown Delta blues and a style they call ‘bluesabilly’-a hybrid of classic Chicago blues and Memphis rockabilly. But The Cash Box Kings are not merely museum-piece imitators of throwback styles of American blues and roots music. Inspired by the classic sounds, they create striking original songs about everything from love in the age of the Internet to gun violence in Chicago, written and delivered with serious passion and wry humor.

Harmonicat Joe Nosek and vocalist Oscar Wilson are the cornerstones of the band. The interplay of Oscar’s huge roar of a voice and Joe’s powerhouse harmonica deliver the essence of the blues. Although they are on the same wavelength musically, they came to the blues in very different ways. Moving to Chicago in his early teens, Nosek soaked up the sounds of the blues on the radio and live at the Chicago Blues Festival. A few years later he began sneaking into bars to see legends like Junior Wells, James Cotton, Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers and Willie Dixon. Inspired by these giants, Nosek took up the harmonica and immersed himself in the blues. Galvanized by the playing of Little Walter, Big Walter Horton and the first Sonny Boy Williamson, Joe honed his own aggressive, fluid style. After moving to Madison, Wisconsin, he co-founded the first incarnation of The Cash Box Kings in 2001. With constant gigging, the band built a solid Midwest fan base. But in 2007, when Oscar Wilson joined the band, his straight-from-the-soul vocals and larger-than-life charisma launched them as a world-class blues band.

Oscar was literally born into the blues. Living on 43rd Street (aka Muddy Waters Drive) on Chicago’s South Side, he grew up in a musical family. During his youth, bluesmen like Junior Wells, Elmore James and Big Smokey Smothers were all regular visitors at the Friday night fish fries at the Wilson home. Oscar made his musical debut at age 11, singing at a house party with his neighbor, the legendary David "Honeyboy" Edwards. With his gigantic, rough-edged voice, Wilson, now in his 60s, proudly carries on the classic Chicago blues vocal tradition. Standing 6’1" and weighing in at over three hundred pounds, he’s part Muddy Waters, part Jimmy Reed and part Cedric the Entertainer. Despite very different upbringings and 20 years’ age difference, Nosek and Wilson are not only bandmates and songwriting partners, but also close friends.

The rest of The Cash Box Kings’ "blues collective" is made up of some of today’s best traditional blues musicians, who appear in different combinations at different performances. Founding member Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith or Mark Haines will be drumming, with Joel Paterson or Billy Flynn (or both) on guitar and Brad Ber on bass. Sometimes they are joined by the newest member, "Cash Box Queen" Lee Kanehira on piano.

Sadly, this was the first recording made in the last 10 years without their friend and bandmate, keyboard master Barrelhouse Chuck. Chuck, who battled and eventually succumbed to cancer during the recording of the album, was not well enough to play on the sessions.

The Cash Box Kings are led by the excellent harmonica player Joe Nosek and singer Oscar Wilson and they play authentic Chicago blues – listen to "Flood" pure classic Muddy Waters – as well as rocking R&B – check out opener Amos Milburn’s "House Party". The band also includes versatile guitarists Joel Paterson and Billy Flynn, drummers Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith (Willie Big Eyes Smith’s son) and Mark Haines, with Brad Ber on bass and Lee Kanehira replacing the late Barrelhouse Chuck on keyboards. They also cover Robert Johnson "Travelling Riverside Blues" and Jimmy Reed "I’m Gonna Get My Baby" but it isn’t all classic covers they also include their own songs like "Build That Wall" which contains the lines "Go on build that wall/ mistreat people with brown skin but most of all: you can ignore what Jesus said /you know the poor are better off dead. /Come on now USA let’s build that wall." Their own songs aren’t backward looking, as in "If You Got a Jealous Woman Facebook Ain’t Your Friend" and "Blues for Chi-Raq" has a modern brass-fuelled funky sound. This is an excellent record with some great playing from all involved and the Kings seem to be able to take on any blues style with Wilson’s vocals giving everything an authentic feel.


01. House Party (3:03)
02. I’m Gonna Get My Baby (3:04)
03. Flood (4:45)
04. Build That Wall (3:45)
05. Blues For Chi-Raq (3:30)
06. Traveling Riverside Blues (3:14)
07. If You Got A Jealous Woman Facebook Ain’t Your Friend (2:42)
08. Daddy Bear Blues (3:18)
09. Sugar Sweet (2:36)
10. I’m A Stranger (3:18)
11. I Come All The Way From Chi-Town (3:07)
12. All Night Long (2:50)
13. Don’t Let Life Tether You Down (1:54)

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