Kings Go Forth is a ten-piece soul/funk band created by Lotus Land Records founder, Andy Noble, and lead vocalist Black Wolf. The pair met in 2004 at Noble’s famed Milwaukee record shop. However, the band, consisting of Andy Noble (bass), Dave Wake (keyboards), Dan Flynn (guitar), Cecilio Negron, Jr. (percussion), Jeremy Kuzniar (drums), a horn section including—trombonist Dave Cusma and trumpeter Jed Groser, and a trio of singers--Black Wolf, Danny Fernandez, and Matt Norberg, wasn’t formed until early 2007. Capturing a classic retro soul sound, in the vein of fellow soul revivalists Sharon Jones and Amy Winehouse, Kings Go Forth released several 7” singles before signing to Luaka Bop in mid-2009. They released their debut album, The Outsiders Are Back, in April 2010.
If you've ever felt like you just weren't made for these times, take a listen to Milwaukee's Kings Go Forth and be transported to the early 70s. The ten-piece group makes music that captures the retro sounds of soul/funk greats like Curtis Mayfield. And it's no surprise, considering front man Black Wolf (born Jesse Davis)—who's in his fifties—was actually around for the first wave of soul music. His first soul group, The Essentials, even recorded in Mayfield's studio. In 2004, Davis met bassist Andy Noble, who was the owner of Lotus Land Records in Milwaukee, and the two joined forces to bring back the sounds of Davis' past. Eight additional members were recruited—whose ages range from early twenties to late fifties—and Kings Go Forth (named after a 1958 World War II film starring Frank Sinatra) was officially formed in 2007. Three years later, they released their debut album The Outsiders Are Back. Opening track “One Day” kicks things off to a rollicking start, with a spirited drum solo from Jeremy Kuzniar and a surprisingly powerful two-person horn section, courtesy of Dave Cusma (trombone) and Jed Groser (trumpet). On “You're The One,” Black Wolf lives up to his name by howling “woo-ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-owwww!”, as if a milky white full moon is shining down on him. This track carries some of the lovely vocal harmonies that are more on the Motown-revival end of the spectrum, but with some funk-laden horns thrown in for good measure. Lyrically, it's about the feeling of heartbreak when you're in love with someone who doesn't love you back. As Black Wolf broodingly sings lyrics like, “you're the only dream that won't come true/you're the one I love,” Kings Go Forth show that this theme is just as relevant today as it was in the era of music they're reviving. In addition to digging up the roots of soul and funk, Kings Go Forth try their hand of early ska/reggae music with the track “1000 Songs.” It's got the kind of groovy, calypso island beat that could have been recorded at Kingston's Studio One, the “Motown of Jamaica Motown”, circa 1963. When you're a band setting out to revive a particular era of music, it's easy to slip into being one step above a cover band. But with Kings Go Forth, they prove that they're able to capture the spirit of an era while still maintaining their own unique feel.