For two decades, the Cash Box Kings have stood apart from the multitudes of “blues bands” that focus on bar-band rock, not actual blues. Inspired by the 1940s-’60s Chicago sounds of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter, the Kings stay true to the roots, even on original tunes. Singer/harmonica player Joe Nosek, vocalist Oscar Wilson, and guitarist Billy Flynn (along with other musicians) create passionate, Chicago/Delta sounds free of sterile re-creation.
Flynn reveals his strengths behind Wilson’s raw vocal on the rocking “Down on the South Side.” Unlike many modern blues guitarists, he knows when to stick with the ensemble and when to step out, as he does with a tangy, concise Albert King-inspired statement. His licks add flair and edginess to “Nobody Called It the Blues” and “She Dropped the Axe on Me,” both driven by authentic, syncopated Delta rhythms.
Muddy Waters’ “Please Have Mercy” reflects early-’50s Chess, the subtle guitar parts supporting both Wilson’s vocals and Nosek’s harmonica. Flynn’s sharp, Muddy-inspired slide emerges on the raw “Tryin’ So Hard,” his agile, strategically placed riffs adding color behind Nosek’s vocal on the
This article originally appeared in VG’s June 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.