Saturday, June 2, 6:45-8:00 pm
Hailing out of Chicago, 3-time Grammy nominee Billy Branch is an ambassador of authentic Chicago Blues. With his band, he has done over 70 international tours, and he is a pioneer in Blues education, having taught thousands of children around the world. He has been called “a fire-kissed harp-playing protégé of blues great Willie Dixon” (by whom he was discovered and with whom he toured) and is known to “effortlessly segue from vintage Little Walter to up-to-the-minute funky blues without dropping a beat.” Billy has won multiple W.C. Handy Awards from the Blues Foundation, an Emmy Award, two Chicago Music Awards, and numerous humanitarian achievement awards.
Billy Branch was discovered by Willie Dixon, the “father of modern Chicago Blues,” while Billy was still in college. Willie encouraged Billy to finish his college education, which he did, but instead of going to law school after receiving his political science degree, Billy began touring with the Willie Dixon Chicago All Stars. This gave Billy the unique opportunity to travel and work as an understudy for the legendary Carey Bell who was planning to leave the All-Stars and form his own band. When Carey took his leave, the young Billy Branch took his place, touring with Willie Dixon for 6 years. Since those early days, Billy has played on over 150 different recordings, including 12 under his own name. He’s recorded with Willie Dixon, Johnny Winter, Lou Rawls, Koko Taylor, Eddy Clearwater, Honeyboy Edwards, Syl Johnson, Lurrie Bell, Ronnie Baker Brooks, John Primer, and Taj Mahal, just to name a few. In addition, he has received three Grammy nominations (losing one nomination to BB King and Eric Clapton). He served two consecutive terms on the Grammy Board of Governors, and founded the Grammy Blues Committee. In addition, he has won multiple W.C. Handy Awards from the Blues Foundation, an Emmy Award, an Addy Award (this is like an Oscar for TV ads), two Chicago Music Awards, and numerous humanitarian achievement awards. Billy Branch has become the ambassador of the Chicago Blues. During his 6-week tour of Turkey, he represented the USA in Turkey’s Parliament, teaching political party leaders to play harmonica! Thousands of fans showed up every night of the week to experience the authentic Chicago Blues. He and his band, the Sons of Blues, have delivered this cultural legacy around the world, having made over 70 international tours. Billy is a Blues education pioneer. He was one of the first artists to develop a Blues in the Schools curriculum. Since 1978, in addition to recording and performing, he’s taught thousands of children around the world. His internationally recognized “Blues in the Schools Program” is committed to teaching both young and old about the Blues as the roots of America’s music. He has brought his interdisciplinary program to Europe, South America, Asia, and most recently to Mexico where he taught his two week program in Spanish. In addition he teaches in the Grammy Museum Music Revolution Project.Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues's Website