Billy Branch is known both as a faithful beacon of today's Chicago blues style and as a sort of Johnny Appleseed of the blues through his innovative music education program Blues in the Schools, which has been in existence for over twenty years.
Branch was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1951. Although he grew up in Los Angeles, he returned to Chicago in 1969, at which time he played in clubs and was tutored by harp legends Big Walter Horton, Carey Bell, and Junior Wells. Eventually he replaced Bell as the harmonica player for a six-year stint in Willie Dixon's band The Chicago Blues All Stars.
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Artists who endorse Hohner harps include John Popper, Rod Piazza, Geneva Red, Toots Thielemans, and Mark DuFresne. Lee Oskar har-monicas are the favorites of Charlie Musselwhite, Paul Oscher, and, of course, Lee Oskar himself.
Branch has also played with Muddy Waters, Albert King, and Johnny Winter, among others, and was featured on the legendary 1990 recording Harp Attack! with Junior Wells, James Cotton, and Carey Bell. Branch is still an active force in blues today.