Madison might not be the blues capital of the Midwest, but with The Cash Box Kings holding
court in the area, crowds clamoring for a traditional approach will find plenty to enjoy with this five-piece
outfit. While still a relatively young band, their setlists read like a step back in time to the heavy days
of Chicago and Memphis with covers of Robert Nighthawk, Eddie Taylor, Sunnyland Slim, Dr. Ross,
and countless other fallen heroes, and the band's first CD holds true to that format.
Far too many classic blues outfits stick to what can be considered a list of Top 40 Blues Hits,
but these guys dig into the catalogs of John Brim, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Johnny Young,
Tommy Johnson and others, delivering a sound steeped in seasoning. "Low Rollin' Joe" Nosek blows
some meaty harp and offers solid singing through his own Cash Box Boogie, Drop Down, Holler
And Stomp, and Louise, but it's guitarist Travis "White Lightning" Koopman who gets the
nod as the standount vocalist with a completely natural sense of phrasing. Whether it's Tough
Times, Chicago Bound, Mean Red Spider, Blues And Trouble, or originals laced with a nod to the
past like Searchin' For You or Money Man, his potent voice matches his gritty guitar
efforts. Kenny "Beady Eyes" Smith (son of Willie "Big Eyes" Smith) handles most of the drumming
chores and works out on Muddy's Hoochie Coochie Man while Todd Cambio and Chris Boeger
switch off on bass and rhythm guitar as well as handing in more vocals.
With five voices, a tried-and-true twin guitar setup, and a hard-edged but relaxed backbeat, and plenty
of Mississippi saxophone, there's a lot to enjoy here. Recording 'live' in front of an appreciative
audience your first time out is a bold move, but it also proves to be a wise one as this rock-solid crew
with the right chops and background. If there's one minor quibble it's the absence of a storming Little
Walter harp shuffle which would have fit perfectly in this otherwise excellent set of blues.
www.cashboxkings.com has gig updates, band bios, and lots more.
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