Fit For Kings

Milwaukee ’70s soul revivalists Kings Go Forth walk the line between music of the past and present.

Joseph Kleinschmidt


What: Kings Go Forth with Phantom Tails

When: Friday, doors at 7p.m., show at 8p.m.

Where: Cedar Cultural Center 416 S. Cedar Ave.,

Cost: $15

Andy NobleâÄôs 10-piece soul outfit Kings Go Forth began behind the counter of his independent record store, Lotus Land Records. The secondhand record shop might sound like an ingredient in a cliché band origin story, but Noble supports the creative space earnestly.

âÄúI think the environment of a used vinyl shop is very pure,âÄù Noble said. âÄú[ItâÄôs] a very natural way to explore music.âÄù

When musician Black Wolf stopped by the store, the two became friends, sharing an appreciation for local Milwaukee soul and funk. Ever since, an ongoing collaboration between the two has resulted in Kings Go Forth, one of the most dynamic live actsin the Midwest.

âÄúI realized [Wolf] knew a lot of people from the Milwaukee music scene and from the soul and funk era of the âÄô70s,âÄù Noble said.

Wolf, once a singer for the âÄô70s soul group The Essentials, brings authenticity to the music Noble loves so dearly.

Kings Go ForthâÄôs brass section consisting of Dave Cusma and Jed Groser harkens back to full-fledged studio ensembles defining an eraâÄôs soul recordings. The Milwaukee-based band consists of various local musicians to the area like Dan Flynn on guitar, Dave Wake on keyboards and Cecilio Negron, Jr. on percussion.

The sounds of Otis Redding, James Brown and Curtis Mayfield electrify the driving riffs behind the music of Kings Go Forth.

Your typical record store owner, Noble boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of music, and his passion for the medium is inextricably linked to his creative process.

His intimate knowledge of the scene gives him a unique distinction among music aficionados. Wolf and NobleâÄôs early relationship consisted of discovering the hidden gems of past Milwaukee soul stars through out-of-print records.

âÄúWe started trying to track down all the people from the old scene with the original intent to buy records from them,âÄù Noble said. âÄúIt was almost like a business venture at first.âÄù

Borrowing the title of a 1958 Frank Sinatra and Tony Curtis film, the 10 musicians pay homage to the past as well as set their sights on the future.

Urgency, fueled by drummer Jeremy KuzniarâÄôs layered rhythms, prevents the group from sounding like a tribute band mining another eraâÄôs influence. Instead, Kings Go Forth balances reggae, soul and funk, creating upbeat singles that demand to be heard.

Members trade off doo-wop and backup vocals, and even though Wolf and companyâÄôs vocals donâÄôt reach Sharon Jones or Adele levels of chutzpah, thatâÄôs not what Kings Go Forth are after. Danny Fernandez, Matt Norberg and Black Wolf strive for vocal harmonies that propel the genre forward.

âÄúThe space weâÄôve carved out within the soul and funk music world is a bit wider than most other groups,âÄù Noble said.

Numerous soul revival artists like Raphael Saadiq and John Legend seem to reflect a recent trend in reclaiming the classic sound.  But the aesthetics of soul have influenced groups indefinitely.

âÄú[Soul] music has been dormant underneath the surface of pop music,âÄù Noble said.âÄúHonestly, the music was too good to be gone for that long.âÄù