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The Cash Box Kings
Torchbearers for classic Chicago Blues headline the League’s Annual Blues Bash
By Eddie Torres
Fort Wayne Reader
Is there an aural equivalent of a double-take? Like you half-hear something and then your ears sort of “jump back” to it to make sure you’re hearing it correctly?
That’s probably the reaction a lot of blues fans have to The Cash Box Kings, especially if they’re fans of the blues that came out of Chicago in the 40s and 50s. Holding Court, the band’s latest album on Blind Pig, sounds like a long-lost classic from Chess records, with the blistering guitar, simmering, distorted harmonica, and irresistible groove of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Sonny Boy Williamson in their heyday.
And just as your starting to think “hmmm, I don’t recognize this one…”, singer Oscar Wilson grabs your full attention with a line about “million dollar condos in Cabrini Green” or selling music on the ‘net but not getting paid.
“Wait a minute,” you think. “This is a new band?”
Indeed, The Cash Box Kings are a relatively new band — they’ve been around since 2003, with seven albums to their credit — though they’re steeped in their hometown Chicago’s rich blues tradition. Called the “Young Turks” of the Chicago blues scene, The Cash Box Kings’ albums and live performances have earned them rave reviews.
The Cash Box Kings were founded by singer and harmonica man Joe Nosek; though only in his 20s when he put the band together, Nosek has played with Luther Alison, Clyde Stubblefield, and others. He also writes or co-writes most of the band’s original material.
Sharing vocal duties with Nosek is Oscar Wilson, whose musical education goes way back. Part of a musical family, Wilson told chicagoblues.com that many of the blues greats were frequent guests at his family’s house on 43rd street in Chicago. “When I was a young fella, people like Smokey Smothers, Elmore James, Honeyboy Edwards, would be by the house,” Wilson said. “Junior Wells, too. There was always something happening.”
When he’s on stage, Wilson has been described as a combination of Muddy Waters meets Cedric the Entertainer, a charismatic performer with a powerful voice. He’s the one singing the line about “million dollar condos in Cabrini Green” mentioned above in “Gotta Move Out to the Suburbs,” a song about gentrification that manages to be both funny and heartbreaking at the same time.
Handling guitar for The Cashbox Kings is Joel Paterson, a member of several Chicago bands who has played with Kim Wilson, Honeyboy Edwards, and Wanda Jackson. Drummer Kenny Smith has an equally impressive resume, recording and touring with luminaries such as Pinetop Perkins, Jimmy Rogers, and Junior Wells.
Though The Cash Box King’s most recent album Holding Court takes many of its cues from Chess Records and other post-war Chicago blues, the band is just as adept at Delta, swing and country blues. Previous album Holler and Stomp saw them in a more countrified mode on some tracks, mixing original songs with fresh takes on old classics and even unearthing some lost gems.
Whatever they’re playing, a show by The Cash Box Kings is a pretty lively affair, to say the least. Coming up in Chicago’s blues clubs, this is a band that knows how to work a crowd. The band are regular headliners at Chicago venues like Buddy Guy’s, Rosa’s Lounge, Nick’s and the Smoke Daddy; headlined European festivals like the Lucerne Blues Festival and the Hondarribia Blues Festival; and performed several times at the Chicago Blues Festival. They’ve also performed and collaborated with Chicago blues giants like Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Billy Boy Arnold and Lurrie Bell.
The 2016 Blues Bash with The Cash Box Kings
A benefit for The League for the Blind and Disabled. All the proceeds from the fundraiser go to support The League’s Home Care+ division, "Help While You Wait" program.
C2G Music Hall
323 West Baker Street
Saturday, May 14
Doors for the concert and general ticket holders open at 7:30 p.m. Band starts at 8 PM
General Seating: $20
Food tickets: $10
Tickets available at:
C2G Music Hall
232 West Baker Street
Wooden Nickel Music
3422 N Anthony
5821 S Anthony Blvd