Artist: The Cash Box Kings
Album: Holding Court
Label: Blind Pig
Release Date: 04/28/2015
On their latest release, traditionalists The Cash Box Kings continue to perform their brand of old school, post-war blues. While clearly rooted in the classic Chess Records sound of the 50’s, the band injects their music with enough joy and abandon to appeal to modern audiences.
Tracks like the up tempo “Everybody’s Fishin’” and the instrumental slow burn “Quarter to Blue” are great showcases for The Cash Box Kings’ flawless musicianship. Joe Nosek’s thick, distorted harp tone is reminiscent of Little Walter, while Joel Patterson’s guitar licks add just the right amount of juke joint grit. Covering material by a bluesman as idiosyncratic as John Lee Hooker is no mean feat, yet the band’s rendition of Hooker’s “Hobo Blues” captures all the tune’s loneliness and raw emotion. Two of the most striking tracks on Holding Court combine wry social commentary with the band’s signature classic blues arrangements. “Download Blues” offers a refreshingly honest take on the struggles of musicians in the internet age, while “Gotta Move Out to the Suburbs” decries the gentrification of urban neighborhoods. The understated vocals of front man Oscar Wilson are perfectly suited to the acerbic lyrics of these tunes.
The Cash Box Kings are firmly rooted in tradition, but there music has enough passion to keep it from feeling like a museum piece. Chicago Blues lovers will find much to enjoy on Holding Court.
– Jon Kleinman