Take four accomplished younger players and add one veteran vocalist – it’s a recipe that worked for Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets featuring Sam Myers and it has been repeated successfully since. The Cash Box Kings was formed in Madison WI in 2001 by harmonica player Jay Nosek. South Side singer Oscar Wilson joined in 2007. There have been eight albums since and this is their first for Alligator. Besides Nosek and Wilson the current lineup is Brad Ber on bass, Mark Haines on drums and Joel Paterson on guitar. New member Rie “Lee” Kanehira is on piano & organ. Guests for this recording include Billy Flynn, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith and a horn section. They call their sound ‘Old School Chicago Blues” and with some lesser known covers and very good originals, they most certainly do exactly that. Amos Milburn’s “House Party” is a rousing lead off song. Jimmy Reed’s “I’m Gonna Get My Baby” gets a fine performance, that Jimmy Reed sound is not nearly as simple as it sounds but they nail it. Muddy’s “Flood” also gets a loving treatment, Wilson has obviously done Muddy many times in his career. Kanehira may be from Japan but she clearly knows her Spann. Nosek’s clever “Build That Wall” might be too clever by half, his rockabilly commentary on political sloganeering just might have the opposite effect – listen carefully. He does show himself to be a very good singer also. Wilson’s “Blues For Chi-Raq” is another very good 12-bar about the violence in his neighbourhood. The band takes a break for a country blues as Wilson does RJ’s “Travelling Riverside Blues” with just Paterson on electric slide – a treat. Wilson & Nosek wrote a delightful “If You Got A Jealous Woman Facebook Ain’t Your Friend”, our narrator is busted once again because she checked his Facebook page. Junior Wells’ “I’m A Stranger” gets a mention here too because it’s a Junior song that is not well known, this version should change that. Wilson goes way back in style for “I Came All The Way From Chi-Town”, an excellent country blues with just Paterson & Nosek. Clifton Chenier’s “All Night Long” brings the tempo roaring back up with group vocals and horns. “Don’t Let Life Tether You Down” concludes, a Nosek vocal on a Piedmont-style feel good song. This is a highly recommended disc of old school blues with great songs, a variety of styles and excellent playing, one you can buy with confidence. The web site is www.cashboxkings.com. This grouping has been very prolific of late with discs by Oscar Wilson & Lee Kanehira also available. Kanehira’s Union Meeting features all the players on Royal Mint. Wilson’s One Room Blues features Joel Paterson on a program of standards that heads in a jazzier direction.

John’s Blues Picks August 2017 – Martin Goyette