Chris "CB" Boeger of the Cash Box Kings performs with the group at a Lunch Time Live appearance at the Capitol Square on Tuesday, June 12.
The Cash Box Kings have been pumping out classic covers and originals that sound like classics for five years now. Their first release, Live at the King Club, came out in 2002, followed by Black Night Fallin' in 2003 and The Royal Treatment in 2006. Each release follows a similar pattern of their jump blues originals mixed with classics from some of the lesser-known names of the genre, like Robert Nighthawk and Sunnyland Slim.
While drummer Kenny "Beady Eyes" Smith (son of Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Muddy Waters' drummer) is arguably the most famous of the band, he keeps the lowest profile, usually only taking the mike for a cover of "Hoochie Coochie Man." The rest of the time vocals are handled by either Travis Koopman or Joe Nosek; Koopman's guitar playing gives the band its jumping energy, while Nosek's harmonica brings the authentic blues feel.
The Kings will be playing a 6 p.m. show Friday at the Capital Brewery Bier Garten as part of the Madison Music Project Charter Club Tour. Nosek and Madison's busiest bass player, the always terrific Chris Boeger, took a few minutes to answer some questions about the Madison music scene and their favorite Capital brew.
The Daily Page: How would you describe the Madison music scene? Is there one?
Chris Boeger: To me, the music scene is sort of reflective of our diverse population. Since this is a college town and a state capital, we have a pretty eclectic mix of people, and the bands that are out there show that. You can find jam bands, blues, salsa, rock, country and just about anything else. Being a college town, there's turnover -- people move here and then graduate and leave, so that keeps it fresh in a way. Fresh fans and fresh bands all the time. We also still have staples like Westside Andy/Mel Ford, Catfish Stephenson and Harmonious Wail.
Do you have any local bands you especially like sharing a bill with?
Joe Nosek: We like playing shows with Pupy Costello & His Big City Honky Tonk.
Boeger: We have a show coming up with Pupy Costello -- that will be a blast. We had a fun show awhile back with the Mud Angels. A lot of times it's just us, so if we do share a bill it's a nice treat.
Do you have a favorite local band?
Nosek: We have a lot of local bands that we like including the Kissers, Pupy Costello, the Hometown Sweethearts, Screamin' Cyn-Cyn, Youngblood Brass Band. We also like a lot of the great jazz acts in town, like El Clan Destino, Tony Castaneda, the Sidrans and the Tim Whalen Nonet. We were also really big fans of Shotdown and the New Recruits before they disbanded.
What was your favorite gig ever?
Boeger: Again, hard to pick a favorite, but the show with Bob Margolin and Hubert Sumlin and Catherine Davis at Orton Park Fest last year was pretty amazing. I mean those guys have played with the biggies! Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, etc....
Nosek: We also played this amazing 14th century brewery and pub in Belgium a few years back.
CBK have played at Buddy Guy's Legends; how'd you get such a sweet gig?
Nosek: I had been trying to get a show at Buddy Guy's club for a couple of years to no avail. Then one night Buddy's former agent caught us playing at another blues club in Chicago. He came up to us after the show and told us that he was blown away by the fact we really knew how to play "old school" Chicago blues. He told us that he'd call Buddy and get us a gig at his club.
We were skeptical, but sure enough three days later Buddy Guy's actually called us and offered us a gig. We've been playing there about once a month ever since. This past February we were fortunate to be given a headlining show there on a Friday night, and we also played a big showcase event there during the Chicago Blues Fest last month.
As a bunch of young guys playing old (and sometimes obscure) blues music, do you ever feel like you don't get respect from older bluesmen?
Boeger: No. In fact when we play places like Buddy's or when we have been able to play with some of these older guys, they are happy to hear blues being played this way.
Nosek: Actually all of the older blues musicians we've played with have been very supportive of what we're doing. We've been backing up some of the legendary older blues musicians like Hubert Sumlin, Billy Boy Arnold, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and Lurrie Bell, and they've really embraced us and treated us like peers. Buddy Guy usually checks us out whenever we play his club, and he always has really kind and encouraging things to say to us.
Have you played the Capital Brewery Bier Garten before?
Boeger: We have played there a few times -- it's really fun. They get a big crowd in there and they just want to hang out, listen to music and drink great beer. My kind of place!
Nosek: And the free (quality) beer is really a great perk.
Favorite Capital brew?
Boeger: I love the Special Pilsner for everyday drinking, and the Blonde Dopplebock is a nice seasonal bear.
Nosek: Capital Amber.