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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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Showing posts with label Billy Branch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Billy Branch. Show all posts

Monday, June 3, 2019

Women Of The Blues Records artist: Mary Lane - Travelin' Woman - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Travelin' Woman, from South Side Chicago's Mary Lane and its real nice. Opening with title track, Travelin' Woman, Lane shows why her reputation precedes her large as life. Joined by Travis T. Bernard on drums, Chris Cameron on keys, Jim Trullio on guitar and bass, Terry Ogolini and Gene Barge on sax, Don Tenuto on trumpet and with flaming hot slide work by Louie Zagoras this is a super opener. Up tempo blues track, Leave That Wine Alone, has a great tempo and Lanes vocals are sassy. Johnny Grey on B3, Phil Miller on slide and Paul Mertens bass harmonica work is solid and backing vocals by Simbryt Dortch and Yvonne Gage really add nicely to the bottom. Corky Siegel sits in on harmonica on shuffle track, Some People Say I'm Crazy and with solid piano work by Grey, a very cool track. One of my favorite tracks on the release is soul soaked, Let Me Into Your Heart with it's gripping vocal feel and gospel like piano and B3 reinforcement by Cameron. Lanes phrasing and vocal tension are perfect. Bad Luck And Trouble has a driving shuffle pace with Trullio's bass line leading the way. Cameron on piano and Lane on lead vocal really mesh nicely on this track with a solid guitar solo by Dave Specter. Wrapping the release is acoustic blues, Make Up Your Mind featuring Lane alone with Colin Linden on acoustic slide / dobro. This track is a strong closer for a really cool release.



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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

NOLA Blue Records artist: Benny Turner & Cash McCall - Going Back Home - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Going Back Home, from Benny Turner & Cash McCall and it's quite fun. Opening with rumbling R&B track, Got To Find A Way, Turner is upfront on lead vocal and bass joined by Carla Davis. This track has solid horn punch with Jason Mingledorff on sax, Barney Floyd on trumpet and includes Cash McCall and Butch Mudbone on guitars, Raishene Webb on keys and Terry Saffold on drums. McCall steps front and center on Willie Dixon's Spoonful sharing the guitar work with Turner, Joe Krown on keys, Webb on organ, and Johnny Sansone on harmonica. McCall original, Money is a really cool track with spoken dialogue by McCall and only base piano, drums and walking guitar rhythm. Very nice. Elmore James' Shake Your Money Maker has great pace with Turner on lead vocal, Mudbone on slide and a nice sax solo by Mingledorff. Another EJ track, It Hurts Me Too features Billy Branch on harmonica as well as Turner and McCall on vocal and some nice slide by Mudbone. Very cool. On The Dirty Dozen the band really gets into a groove with McCall on lead vocal, Krown on keys, Turner on bass and guitar and Rod Bland on drums. Excellent! Wrapping the release is Willie Dixon's Bring It On Home with Branch on lead vocal and harp, Turner on bass, Cash and Mudbone on guitars, Krown on keys, Webb on organ and Saffold on drums. Solid closer for a solid release.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Severn Records artist: Mud Morganfield - They Call Me Mud - New release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, They Call Me Mud, from Mud Morganfield and it's got deep soul roots. Opening with title track, They Call Me Mud, Mud Morganfield, son of the great Muddy Waters shows his own take on the blues with a funky R&B twist. A high stepper with punchy horns by Phil Perkins on trumpet and Michael Jackson on sax this is a cool opener. On 48 Days, a soulful blues number Muds vocals are compelling and stylistic guitar riffs by Billy Flynn add real pepper. Mud's vocals on Cheatin' is Cheatin' coupled with E.G. McDaniel's bass work puts one in mind of the great Curtis Mayfield and his quiet soul wailing. Very nice. Muddy's Howling Wolf is definitely straight out of dad's catalog with traditional vocal styling, strong harp from Studebaker John and super Muddy slide emulation by Billy Flynn. Excellent! Another smooth R&B track and one of my favorites on the release is Who Loves You with Lashunda Williams on backing vocals. Smooth styling and just the right amount of rhythm makes this a strong contender for radio play. Shuffle track, Rough Around The Edge has a real nice feel with smart brass work by Perkins and a super bass work by McDaniel leading to real nice piano soloing by Sumito Ariyo Ariyoshi. Flynn gives he guitar a nice ride, paired with Studebaker John for one of the coolest jams on the release. Wrapping the recording is Mud's Groove, a cool War like smooth track featuring Billy Branch on harp and Bryant "T" Parker on percussion. This isn't the sound that I would immediately associate with the name Morganfield, but I like it!



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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Jongleur artist: Jim Koeppel - RSVP To Paradise - New Release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, RSVP to Paradise by Jim Koeppel. Opening with Johnny's In The Dog House, an easy going shuffle track, Jim Koeppel leads on guitar and vocal. Backed by Tennyson Stephens on piano, Welton Gile on bass, James Gadson on drums, Ron Haynes on trumpet, Rajiv Halim on tenor sax, Norman Palus on trombone, and featuring some real nice harp by Billy Branch, this track is a cool opener. On easy blues number, Hurry Sundown, Koeppel lays down some of his best vocal and guitar riffs along with Stephens on piano over a nice horn set. On title track, RSVP To Paradise, Gile sets a nice table with a romping bass line. Koeppel gets aggressive on guitar with some stinging guitar riffs over Gile's solid bass line and Daddy G Bargetenn slips in a real nice sax solo of his own. Another easy shuffle track, Every Night Without Warning features a real nice piano solo by Stephens as well as some nice trumpet adds by Haynes. Wrapping the release is Let Me Tell You, a fast shuffle with a driving bass line by Gile. Light fingered guitar riffs by Koeppel, a nice harp solo by Branch and a solid blues bottom make this my favorite track on the release.


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Monday, January 23, 2017

Hear And Now Music artist: Derrick Procell - Why I Choose to Sing the Blues - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the newest release, Why I Choose To Sing The Blues, from Derrick Procell and it's interesting. Opening with The Wolf Will Howl Again, Derrick Procell has the lead on vocal with Eddie Shaw and also plays keys and harp. Joining on this track are Woody Johnson on guitar, Jack Skalon on drums, and Bobby Levine on guitar. Trouble Me No More has a high energy R&B feel with Bob Baglione laying down some real nice guitar riffs. Bob Margolin sits in on The Eyes Of Mississippi with some slick slide work and some of Procell's best vocals on the release backed by his own fine harp work and keys. Cool. On title track, Why I Choose To Sing The Blues, Procell has a nice soul feel in his vocals and a little funk in the groove handling bass, drums and keys. Very nice. With a cool swing feel, They All Find Out features Zoey Witz with guitar "witzardry" and Procell adds bass and key with horn work over a solid bottom. David Steffen handles the guitar work on Broke The Mold and again I like Procell's vocals with a thick soulful feel. Woody Johnson is back on slide guitar on Sorry with nice backing vocals by Meredith Colby, Evvy Procell and Sofie Way. Nice blues track, Who Will Tell Lucille has a soulful sound with particularly nice guitar work by Alex Smith. Another track with rich vocals, this is likely my favorite track with just the right phrasing, arrangement guitar soloing and piano. Revival style track, Back In The Game has a nice warm feel with nice slide guitar by Baglione and super vocal by Procell and nice harp by Billy Branch. I also notice Skalon's drumming on this track adds a cool snap. R&B style Don't Waste A Wish On Me, has great soulful feel with super Ray Charles like vocals and nice guitar riffs by Witz. Very nice. Wrapping the release is blues rocker, Too Much featuring Chris Hanson with some stinging workon guitar and John Torroll on drums. Procell lays out his best harp work on this track making for a solid closer.


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Monday, September 14, 2015

VizzTone Label Group artist: Mitch Woods - Jammin' On The High C's - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Jammin' On The High C's from Mitch Woods' Club 88 recorded live on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise and the talent was really flowing. Opening with Big Mamou, Woods, along with members of Roomful of Blues lays down a full tilt boogie. An excellent trumpet, sax and piano solos on this track make it an excellent opener. Next up is Tain't Nobody's Bizness with a stripped down swing. Victor Wainwright and Julia Magness join in giving a different feel vocally... and great piano work contribute to an excellent track. Classic rocker, Rip It Up features Tommy Castro and he really adds some great rockin' guitar riffs to Woods' piano and vocal talents. Backed by the Roomful of Blues horns this track rocks. Lucky Peterson is featured on vocals on Bright Lights Big City, maintaining much of Jimmy Reeds original feel. Breakin down with a little Zydeco, Dwayne Dopsie brings Jambalaya on accordion and vocal. Woods tickles the ivories adding a real nice touch. Billy Branch brings it on Eyesight To The Blind. A lot of real Chicago feel and great harp work are the key to this track. Nicely executed guitar additions and Woods on piano add to the overall blue feel. Boogie track, I Want You To Be My Baby features Popa Chubby on vocal. Woods does an excellent job of driving the boogie and soloing. Popa throws down some wicked rockabilly riffs on guitar making this track shine bright. Coco Montoya takes the lead on Rock Me Baby which has a bit more of a rock swing/boogie feel. He soloing is intermixed with Woods piano work and crisp. Victor Wainwright is back for a real doozie of a boogie, Wine Spo Dee O Dee. This is easily the shining piano track on the release. Woods holds tight on Broke as he sings the story and pushes the rhythm on piano. With audience participation, this track is a lot of fun. Branch and Montoya are back on Boom Boom. A more laid back swing than the Hook wrote it, Woods keeps the rhythm as Branch and Montoya solo. Popa Chubby is back on Wee Wee Hours and a nice easy boogie. Woods takes a particularly nice piano solo on this track giving way to Popa for a plucky guitar solo of his own. Wrapping the release is a hot, fast paced boogie, Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On featuring Dwayne Dopsie. Cool closer for a fun party release.

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 Not from this release:


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

C-Train Records artist: Christian Collin - Spirit Of The Blues - New release review

I just received the newest release, Spirit Of The Blues, from Christian Collin and it's got flare! Opening with One And Only, a blues rocker featuring Collin on vocal and lead guitar , Alex Evans on bass, Chris Monroe on drums, Jen Williams on backing vocals and Johnny Iguana on B-3 this track has good radio potential with a catchy melody and flashy guitar. Player's Game has a cool boogie line with grinding guitars, a driving bass by Evans and features Matthew Skoller on harp. A Woman Like You has a kicker beat that gets you going. I particularly like Collin's vocals on this track and Skoller lays down a nice harp line. Chuck Berry influenced riffs give the track a nice bit of heat over a Lynyrd Skynyrd kind of heat. Very cool! Dance The Blues Away has a conventional 12 bar format and a real nice piano roll by Iquana. Collin takes a nice and easy guitar solo that is all about style and compliments the track nicely. Ballad, Without You, has a solid R&B feel and is well suited to the vocals of Collin and Williams. With an almost Atlanta Rhythm Section kind of feel, the band lays down a real sweet track with rich harmonies, a melodic guitar solo and backing key work by Iquana and Brian Leach (clavinet )makes this the best radio track on the release. Title track, Spirit Of The Blues, has some real fire with hot guitar riffs and and a walking bass line that hits the spot. I find Collin's vocals on this track nicely matched to the gritty nature of the track making it my personal favorite. Excellent! Loping shuffle track, Highway Song, has a real bopping groove and Collin rides it high with clean, tasty succinct riffs. Blues For You takes the pace down to a nice easy roll with an almost Jeff Healey feel. I particularly like the guitar sting on this track. Collin spanks it pretty good on this track but without and pyrotechnics to make it sound plastic. Real nice! Dead Man Walking features Collin on slide along with his vocal and it has a bit of an eerie sound. This track, which has the lease amount of pop value, is really nicely constructed and interesting with a swampy feel. Old 109 has just a boot full of country but no more than say Highway 61 by Johnny Winter. This is a cool blues rocker pairing Peter Gallanis on slide with Skoller on harp and still allowing Collins to drive the train vocally and riff out on lead guitar. Hot rocker! The River is an easy going acoustic number featuring Collin on vocal and acoustic guitar Evans on bass, Chris Morrow on drums and Billy Branch on harp. Wrapping the release is Forever Friends, a soulful ballad with Rodney Brown on sax, Kenny Anderson on trumpet and Bill McFarland on trombone. This is a really smooth track putting me in mind of some of the classic work by Billy Price. Collin takes a real nice melodic solo in the track but maintains it to it's general soulful construction. Very nice conclusion.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Silver Talon Records artist: Blinddog Smokin' - High Steppin' - New Release Review

I just received the newest release (July 17, 2015), High Steppin', from Blinddog Smokin' and it is funnnkkky! Opening with a real high stepper, Pimp Shoes, vocalist Carl Gustafson lays down one vocal riff after another with Roland Pritzker driving the bass, Mo Beeks riding the keys and Chicago Chuck Gullens keeping it tight on drums. Backing vocals from Linda Gustafson, Chris White and Chicago keep it real and really hot guitar soloing from Chalo Ortiz and sax work from Rex Amend blow the top off! Bayou Lady is swampier and sticky funky with a definite voodoo sound. I really like Carls vocals on this track and bursts of guitar by Ortiz are hotter than lightning! Don't Put No Money On Me is a cool track with a cool falling down the stairs rhythm style and a story telling style of vocals. This is a gritty track and I really like it. I Caught Her Lyin' has a easier country blues sound with cool story telling with dynamics by Beeks on keys and Matt Rhody on violin. Tell "Em Shuffle is a cool Chicago style blues track led off by Billy Branch on harp. A simple blues number with cool organ work by Beeks and Branch taking control on harp, it's one of the swinginest track on the release. Slow soulful blues track, If I Died Today, really shows the richness of Gustafson's voice complimented by Branch on harp and with soft background vocals. Probably my favorite track on the release. Big Behind is a clever country comedy style track. This track has a a group vocal part but not like in harmony. More just togetherness. The track has a country format with Tommy Broderick on steel guitar and could easily make a strong cross airways appeal with it's clever lyrics and catchy melody. Lady's Playin' returns to the funk with some poppy funky bass work by Pritzker. Vocal mostly done in a soft rap style, and with a George Clinton like backing delivers with Eric Bernhardt on sax, Travis Blotsky on bari sax, Mike Fulton on trumpet and David Phy on trombone. Fun! Wrapping the release is a gospel style redo of Tell 'Em (Reprise). Beeks really has the gospel styling down on organ and the vocals are rich. Nice closer.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Blue Kitty Music artist: Liz Mandeville - Heart 'O' Chicago - New Release Review

I just received the newest release. Heart 'O' Chicago from Liz Mandeville and it's quite cool! Opening with Cloud Of Love, a blend of soul, R&B, funk and gospel; I really like the feel! Featuring sax solo's from Oz Landessberg and Eddie Campbell as well as a cool trombone work from Eric Campbell and hot bass from Darryl Wright, this smokes. On These Blues, the band falls back into a calm swing and Mandeville goes from a hot spiritual vocal style to more of a club jazz style. Minoru Wright on guitar and Joan Gand share the instrumental spotlight backed by Wade baker on trumpet, Eric campbell on trombone and Oz Landessberg on sax and the slick stick work of Jeremiah Thomas on drums. Don't Doubt My Love finds Charlie Love in a vocal duet with Mandeville on an easy R&B track. Maruyama lays down a nicely stylized guitar solo on this track which nicely dresses it. So Called Best Friend has a cool groove set by Wright and Thomas and featuring Mandeville on vocal. Billy Branch lays down some real nice harp on this one as does Maruyama with his stinging guitar riffs. Quit Me On Voice Mail has a real nice slow sensibility. Eddie Shaw digs in on this track showing some of his best chops on anything I've heard in a while. Mandeville shows real comfort moving from the slow ballad to the moving R&B and high energy spiritual. Maruyama again steps up with sweet sweet blues riffs. Very nice! Shuffle track, Party At The End Of Time, lead by a rolling bass line from Wright, features Branch back on harp and a cool solo line from Maruyama. Silver Lining (Shirley's Blues) is a cool R&B track again with gospel energy. I have always liked this style of track and mandeville's voice is nicely suited for this. I really dig Wright's bass work on this track and well articulated guitar work from Maruyama is tops. Baker, Campbell, Landessberg and Gand really get this track swinging! Tic Tok has more of a Rock/R&B feel with strong horn backing and nice B3 work from Gand. Why Would A Woman Sing The Blues is a high stepping track with a super nice groove. Mandeville takes one of the most aggressive, raw guitar solos on the release immediately elevating it to one of my favorites. Smart Women Foolish Choices again features a vocal duet with Charlie Love and Mandeville. A slick modern shuffle, features really nice bass work again from Wright and a cool trumpet solo from Wade Baker. (Life Is Like A) Wave takes standard 12 bar format and features Dizzy Bolinski on harp. Mandeville steps up with a little blues swagger of her own on guitar in tandem with Bolinski for a simple conclusion to a very cool release.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Vote for the Blues Blast Music Awards!

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BLUES FANS: VOTE FOR THE BLUES BLAST MUSIC AWARDS!

Voting for the 2014 Blues Blast Music Awards is now open to anyone who is a Blues Blast magazine subscriber. Subscriptions are FREE and an automatic part of the voting process on the website. Blind Pig artists and recordings are well represented on the ballot:
"REMEMBERING LITTLE WALTER"
Traditional Blues Album
Unequaled live tribute to the harmonica icon from five of the finest harp players on the current blues scene - Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia, and James Harman.  The album was named winner of two major 2014 Blues Music Awards - "Best Traditional Album" "Album of the Year." It also received a 2014 Grammy nomination for "Best Blues Album."
BILLY BRANCH  
Song of the Year - "Going To See Miss Gerri One More Time"
“Going To See Miss Gerri One More Time” is a moving song about a lost chapter in the cultural history of Chicago’s black population, the story of Gerri Oliver, long-time proprietor of the Palm Tavern in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, an area rich with African-American history that’s been called the ‘Harlem of the Midwest’  Much of that history unfolded in the legendary nightspot that Gerri presided over from 1956 until the city shut it down in 2001.
In its heyday, the Palm Tavern was the hot spot for celebrities such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis, Jr., Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Quincy Jones, and Dinah Washington.  It was, in short, as the Chicago Tribune put it, “a landmark in Chicago history and American musical culture.”
The song, written by Billy Branch, is the centerpiece of Blues Shock, the first studio CD from the three-time Grammy nominee with his band in fifteen years.  Living Blues said the composition is “nothing less than the story of the Great Migration itself, exemplified in the life trajectory of one remarkable woman…by any objective standard, both an eloquent piece of storytelling and an appropriate tribute.” Branch calls it simply “the best song I’ve ever written.”
To watch a concept video of the song, please click HERE.
DAMON FOWLER
Sean Costello Rising Star Award
Song of the Year - "Old Fools, Bar Stools, and Me"
Damon Fowler has emerged as on the foremost practitioners of American roots music.  No Depression said, "A blend of sacred steel, backwater blues and howling, greasy swamp rock, Fowler's music is a primal, atavistic sound that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  Hittin' the Note magazine called him "one soul-oozin', rock 'n' rollin', swamp stalkin' blue monster of a talent."
"Old Fools, Bar Stools, and Me" is a track from his latest release, Sounds of Home, which was produced by swamp blues master Tab Benoit.
To watch a live performance of this song, please click HERE.
SHAWN HOLT AND THE TEARDROPS
New Artist Debut Album - "Daddy Told Me"
Shawn Holt is the son of the late legendary blues master, Magic Slim.
  Fronting his old man's band, Shawn carries on Slim's unique sound and legacy with his debut recording, Daddy Told Me.  The album quickly rose to the #1 slot on the Living Blues radio chart and has been critically acclaimed.  Vintage Guitar said it is "hard to beat this strong debut."   
The album won the prestigious 2014 Blues Music Award for "Best New Artist Debut."  The high energy, hard-driving sound of the Teardrops is still alive and well with Shawn.  The Chicago Blues Guide said that Shawn has "proved conclusively he has what it takes to maintain the family legacy."
To vote for the Blues Blast Music Awards, please click HERE.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Video on lost chapter of Chicago history

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http://mailman.305spin.com/users/blindpigrecords/images/PalmTavernWeb.jpg
 Gerri Oliver in front of the Palm Tavern  (photo: Jim Newberry)
  NEW VIDEO ON LOST PIECE OF CHICAGO CULTURAL HISTORY
  Three-time Grammy Nominee Tells the Story of the Legendary Palm Tavern and Its Owner
“Going To See Miss Gerri One More Time” is a moving song about a lost chapter in the cultural history of Chicago’s black population.  As Living Blues put it, “It’s the story of Gerri Oliver, long-time proprietor of the Palm Tavern on 47th Street on Chicago’s South Side.   That neighborhood, often referred to as Bronzeville, is rich with African-American history – it’s been called the ‘Harlem of the Midwest’ – and much of that history unfolded in the legendary watering hole that Gerri Oliver presided over from 1956 until the city shut it down (or, more accurately, snatched it out from under here) in July of 2001.”

The song was written by acclaimed Chicago bluesman Billy Branch, whom Oliver called her "son.”   To ensure historical accuracy, Branch consulted with Dr. Timuel Black, one of the city’s most respected African-American scholars and historians.   Living Blues called the result “by any objective standard, both an eloquent piece of storytelling and an appropriate tribute” and which Branch calls “the best song I’ve ever written.” 
The song is the centerpiece of Blues Shock, the first studio CD from the three-time Grammy nominee with his band in fifteen years.  A fan of Billy’s, Will Gay, created a video for the song as a gift to the musician.   Comprised largely of old photos (including some disturbing images), it illustrates the historical significance and heartfelt sentiments of the lyrics that tell the story of Gerri’s life.  The song and video highlight her struggles with racism and segregation, from her birthplace in Mississippi in 1922 to Chicago, where she moved in the ‘40s in search of a better life, as well as her endurance and triumph as owner of an elite social and cultural touchstone for the black community.  In a lengthy cover story Living Blues calls the composition “nothing less than the story of the Great Migration itself, exemplified in the life trajectory of one remarkable woman.”
In its heyday, the Palm Tavern was the hot spot for celebrities – folks like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Sammy Davis, Jr., Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Quincy Jones, and Dinah Washington, who would hang out there after their gigs - as well as for other luminaries such as dancer Josephine Baker, writers Richard Wright and Langston Hughes, and in later years, Frank Sinatra and Tommy Dorsey.  It was, in short, as the Chicago Tribune put it, “a landmark in Chicago history and American musical culture.”
http://mailman.305spin.com/users/blindpigrecords/images/BranchLPcoverWeb.jpg Its demise haunted Branch, who says, “It was just a tragedy. The way they closed the Palm Tavern, without fanfare or celebration, it felt so wrong.  Such a rich historical and cultural legacy, to be just erased without any mention – this song is my way of paying homage to Gerri Oliver and the Palm Tavern.”
To watch the video, please click HERE.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Living Blues cover, new video for Billy Branch!

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BILLY BRANCH ON COVER OF LATEST LIVING BLUES MAGAZINE
 New "Blues Shock" Video Released
Veteran Chicago bluesman Billy Branch is featured on the cover of the current Living Blues magazine, with the subheading, "Back In The Groove."  Inside, writer David Whiteis says that Blues Shock, the new release from Billy and the Sons of Blues, is "a proclamation that a unit featuring one of the blues' most creative and hard-working harmonica aces is back in the groove."   The eight page feature article also mentions Branch's musical debt to his mentors and role models, his "longstanding dedication to honoring roots and heritage,"  his lifelong commitment to Blues in The Schools, and his prolific recording career as the A-list studio harmonica player for Chicago blues. http://mailman.305spin.com/users/blindpigrecords/images/BranchLPcoverWeb.jpg
Living Blues feature
Branch, who started his career working with blues icon Willie Dixon and was mentored by men such as Big Walter Horton, Junior Wells, and James Cotton,  was once touted as one of the 'new generation' of blues musicians, and is now verging on elder statesman status in the blues community.  In the eight page feature article Whiteis traces the evolution of Blues Shock and how the new recording reflects Branch's "approach toward honoring yet not being beholden to, the legacy of the blues tradition," saying the album "provides ample proof that Branch's unique blend of rootsy integrity and exploratory zeal remains potent."
Miss Gerri and the Palm Tavern
Whiteis also gives the backstory on perhaps the centerpiece track of the album, one Billy considers "the best song I've written" - "Going To See Miss Gerri One More Time."  The song is a tribute to Gerri Oliver and a lost piece of Chicago's black cultural history, the Palm Tavern, a famed nightspot in the city's Bronzeville neighborhood (the "Harlem of the Midwest") that was frequented by the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, and Langston Hughes.
"Blues Shock" video
Blind Pig has just released a video of the title track from Blues Shock, which is the first studio release from Billy and the Sons of Blues in fifteen years.  To watch the video, please click HERE.
Album release parties this weekend
Billy and the Sons of Blues will be celebrating the release of Blues Shock with two appearances this weekend in Chicago: tonight (Valentine's Day) they will be performing at Buddy Guy's Legends (www.buddyguy.com) at 10:30 pm, and Saturday night they will appear at Rosa's Lounge (www.rosaslounge.com) at 10:00 pm.  If you're not in the Chicago area, you can watch the performances online by clicking on the gigity.tv link on the venues' websites.
For more info, or to hear samples from the CD, please click HERE.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Blind Pig Records artist: Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues - Blues Shock - New release review

I just received the newest release, Blues Shock, from Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues and it's a real butt kicker. Opening with Sons of Blues, a blues/R&B/funk mixture, Branch has a modern sound with solid vocals and harp work. With horns blazing (The Chicago Horns featuring Bill McFarland on trombone, Hank Ford on sax and Kenny Anderson on trumpet) this track is made to get you on your feet. On Willie Dixon's Chicago boogie, Crazy Mixed Up World, Branch lays down some real nice harp riffs and Sumito Ariyoshi is tight on piano. Blues Shock is a blend of temtations and Charlie Daniels. Country soul? This would be the most practical radio track so far with a catchy melody and slide riffs from Dan Carelli. Branch gets loose on harp and Ariyoshi is chasing. Dog House is a cool slinky blues track. Both Branch and Ronnie Baker Brooks take the opportunity to lay down some great riffs on this track. Very nice. Function At The Junction has a strong R&B flavor and backing vocals by Mae Koen, Nanette Frank, Dianne Madison and Nadima, reminiscent of the prime years of R&B. Going To See Miss Gerri One More Time is a solid radio ballad in my mind along the lines of Ray Davies, an underrated writer. Back Alley Cat is a cool shuffle track with understated harp melody acompanied by Ariyoshi on piano, Nick Charles on bass and Moses Rutues Jr on drums. John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom is a definite shot in the butt with strong pace and super harp work. John Lee Hooker is the king of boogie and this is a good track! Slow Moe is a cool slow (Chicago style) blues drag featuring Rutues jr. on lead vocal. Ariyoshi plays beautiful piano riffs on this track and Branch of course is making the harp breath hard. Carelli also lays down some deep riffs on guitar on this track. Excellent! Baby Let Me Butter Your Corn is a terrific jump track with heavy horn backing and Andrew Blaze Thomas pushing the bottom on drums. Carelli again hits it hard with a slick guitar solo and Ariyoshi is great on keys but this track is tee'd up for Branch and he kills it! Closing the release is Song For My Mother sounding to me like a track from the early Lee Oscar and War songbook. It has a nice Latin jazz instrumental sound with harp lead on melody. Each of the players has an opportunity at the front and this is a great overall track.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Facts of Life - Willie Dixon with Lacy Gibson

Lacy Gibson (May 1, 1936 – April 11, 2011) was an American Chicago blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He most notably recorded the songs, "My Love Is Real" and "Switchy Titchy", and in a long and varied career worked with Buddy Guy and Son Seals. One commentator noted that Gibson "developed a large and varied repertoire after long stays with numerous bands, many recording sessions, and performances in Chicago nightclubs". Gibson was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, United States, but relocated with his family to Chicago, Illinois, in 1949. Initially, he was taught guitar playing by his mother. His early influences included Sunnyland Slim, Muddy Waters, Lefty Bates, Matt Murphy, and Wayne Bennett. Gibson's earliest work was as a session musician, playing mainly rhythm guitar. In 1963 alone, he recorded backing for Willie Mabon, Billy "The Kid" Emerson and Buddy Guy. Gibson's own recording debut was also in 1963 with Chess Records, who recorded his song "My Love Is Real", with Buddy Guy on guitar. The track remained unreleased at that time, and when it was finally issued, initial pressings credited the work to Guy. Two self-released singles followed, before Gibson recorded his debut album, Wishing Ring in 1971. It was released on El Saturn Records, which was partly owned by Gibson's then brother-in-law, Sun Ra. The family connection continued when Ra recorded Gibson's co-written song, "I'm Gonna Unmask the Batman". In 1977, Ralph Bass produced another Gibson album, although this was not released until Delmark Records did the honors in 1996. His following work with Son Seals was heard on Seal's 1978 Live and Burning album. Alligator Records then included four tracks by Gibson on their 1980 Living Chicago Blues, Vol. 3 compilation album. Gibson released Switchy Titchy in 1982 on the Netherlands-based Black Magic Records label. His appearances after the release were reduced due to health problems, but he performed locally around Chicago, both on his own or backing Billy Boy Arnold and Big Time Sarah. Despite the reduction in his engagements, Gibson played at the Chicago Blues Festival in 2004. Gibson also operated the Chicago after-hours nightclub "Ann's Love Nest" with his wife, for whom it was named. Gibson died of a heart attack in Chicago in April 2011, aged 74 If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Going Down Slow - Billy Branch & Kenny Neal

Billy Branch has followed a very non-traditional path to the blues. Unlike many blues artists, he isn't from the South. Billy was born in Chicago in 1951 and was raised in Los Angeles. He first picked up a harmonica at the age of ten and immediately began to play simple tunes. Billy returned to Chicago in the summer of '69 and graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in political science. It was during these years that he was introduced to the Blues. He soon became immersed in the local blues scene. He spent a great deal of time at legendary blues clubs such as: Queen BeeĆ¢€™s and Theresa's Lounge; he learned from such stalwart harmonica players like: Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, Junior Wells and Carey Bell. His big break came in 1975 during a harmonica battle when he beat Chicago legend, Little Mac Simmons at the Green Bunny Club. He made his first recording for Barrelhouse Records and began to work as an apprentice harp player in Willie Dixon's Chicago Blues All-Stars. He eventually replaced Carey Bell and worked with Willie Dixon for six years. During this time, Billy formed the Sons Of Blues (S.O.B.s) featuring musicians who where the sons of famous blues artists. The original S.O.B.s consisted of Billy, Lurrie Bell, Freddie Dixon and Garland Whiteside. They toured Europe and played at the Berlin Jazz Festival. Shortly afterward, they recorded for Alligator Record's Grammy-nominated Living Chicago Blues sessions, and Billy has been a regular studio player appearing on over fifty albums. Billy has recorded and/or performed with an incredible list of Blues legends including: Muddy Waters, Big Walter Horton, Son Seals, Lonnie Brooks, Koko Taylor, Johnny Winter, and Albert King. In 1990, he appeared with three harp legends:Carey Bell, Junior Wells, and James Cotton on W.C Handy Award winner, Harp Attack! His most recent recordings for the Polygram label are entitled The Blues Keep Following Me Around and Satisfy Me. Billy is also passing on the blues tradition to a new generation through his Blues In The Schools program. He is a dedicated blues educator and has taught in the Chicago school system for over twenty years as part of the Urban Gateways Project. In 1996, some of his finest students opened the Main Stage at the Chicago Blues Festival which was broadcast throughout the U.S. on National Public Radio. Blues producer, Chicago Beau has written, "Billy Branch has become a beacon, and model for his times; as an artist, and social/cutural activist... Billy Branch is a Bluesman; Billy Branch is the Blues." If you like what I’m doing, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Little Boy Blue - Mack Simmons / Billy Branch


Born January 25, 1934 - Chicago blues harmonica player and singer Little Mack Simmons in France.
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Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm a Man - Billy Branch with Llou Johnson

As the beloved voice of B.B. King’s Bluesville on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Big LLOU “that’s right..there are two L’s in his name” is heard daily by over 2 million listeners across the US and internationally.

Not your average host, Big Llou ensures that your event attendees are fully engaged, informed and entertained. He is a professional, live event personality and entertainer whose folksy and bigger than life persona and voice, relates and connects with blues lovers worldwide.

He is called upon regularly to host some of the biggest events in blues, including, The Blues Music Awards in Memphis, TN and The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruises and events for the Chicago Blues Fest.

His acting career has seen him on the big screen in such films as “Barbershop I and II, Let’s go to Prison and more recently, “Dreams” to be released fall of 2011. He was also the on camera host for the BET’s “Ballers” with NBA superstar John Salley and the voice of Courtney Cox’ “Mix it Up” on the WE network.

Often compared to the likes of Barry White and Isaac Hayes, Big Llou’s sultry bass voice has appeared on numerous tv and radio commercials and he has performed on stages across the US and Europe performing blues, choral, pop, R&B and gospel music. His first blues CD “They Call Me Big LLOU”, to be released on the 2011 Oct LRBC, boasts an entertaining mix of R&B, soul and blues.
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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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Monday, July 18, 2011

Chicage Blues: A Living History (The Revolution Continues) New Release Review


This is a very enjoyable double cd release of classic blues tunes played by the likes of Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch, Carlos Johnson and Lurrie Bell with special guests Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Magic Slim and featuring Ronnie Baker Brooks, Zora Young and Mike Avery. They cover all of the bases from Chuck Berry to Lonnie Johnson. This is a cd that should be in everyones collection.
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Check it out you'll like it!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nick's Groove - Sons of Blues - Billy Branch - Lurrie Bell


Lurrie Bell (born Lurrie C. Bell, December 13, 1958, Chicago, Illinois, United States) is a blues guitarist and singer. His father was renowned blues harmonica player Carey Bell.

Bell started playing guitar at the age of six, and in his teens he polished his skills playing with the legends of Chicago blues scene including Eddy Clearwater, Big Walter Horton and Eddie Taylor.

In the mid 1970s, he went on to join Koko Taylor's Blues Machine and he toured with the band for four years. He made his recording debut in 1977 appearing on his father's album Heartaches and Pain and also on Eddie C. Campbell's King of the Jungle. It was around that time that he formed The Sons of Blues with musicians including Billy Branch on harmonica.[3] Three tracks of the band's recordings were featured in the Alligator Records compilation Living Chicago Blues Vol. 3 released in 1978. In 1989 he released his first solo effort, Everybody Wants To Win, on JSP Records.

Though Bell's career appeared to be headed in the right direction, drawing attention of the blues fans around the world as a young prodigy of the blues, he battled emotional problems and drug abuse for many years, which kept him away from performing on regular basis.

He began a comeback in 1995 with the well-received album Mercurial Son, his first of several from the Delmark label. A series of albums followed thereafter, and he started to perform more frequently in the Chicago club and blues festival circuits.

Bell is featured on Gettin' Up - Live at Buddy Guy's Legends, Rosa's and Lurrie's Home, a 2007 CD and DVD release from Delmark, where he plays with his father Carey. Soon after this release, Carey died and this became his last recorded effort.


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