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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blue Bird Blues - Billy Branch

Billy Branch (born William Earl Branch, October 3, 1951, Great Lakes, Illinois) is an American blues harp player and singer of Chicago blues and harmonica blues.
Born in Great Lakes, Illinois, Branch was raised in Los Angeles, California, but in 1969 he moved to Chicago where he attended the University of Illinois. He soon took the place of the harmonica player Carey Bell in a band led by Willie Dixon called the Chicago Blues All-Stars.

In the 1970s he founded his own group, The Sons of the Blues, along with Lurrie Bell on guitar and Freddie Dixon on bass guitar. They are the sons of Carey Bell and Willie Dixon respectively, and they recorded for Alligator Records and with a change in personnel for Red Beans Records. The new band consisted of Carlos Johnson on guitar and J.W. Williams on vocals and bass guitar. He has also recorded for Verve Records and Evidence Records.

Other than co-headlining Alligator's 1990 summit meeting Harp Attack! with fellow harp masters Junior Wells, Carey Bell, and James Cotton, Branch largely busied himself with extensive sideman work and teaching an innovative "Blues in the Schools" program until 1995.

Branch has appeared at numerous major festivals including the Long Beach Blues Festival, Chicago Blues Festival, San Francisco Blues Festival and the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Billy Branch is also well known for creating the "Blues in Schools" program (currently endorsed by the Blues Foundation) whereby Billy would go to schools, often in underprivileged areas, and teach the blues and how to play harmonica.

The SOB's current lineup consists of Billy Branch on harmonica and vocals, Moses Rutues on drums and vocals, Nick Charles on bass and vocals, Ariyo on keyboards and vocals, and Dan Carelli on guitar and vocal
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