Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues, Demetria Taylor | Buddy Guy's Legends | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader
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Billy Branch

Billy Branch

Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues, Demetria Taylor 

When: Fri., Feb. 14, 9 p.m. 2014
Price: $20
Billy Branch’s new record, Blues Shock (Blind Pig), is the Chicago harmonica ace’s first full-length under his own name since 1999’s Satisfy Me, and his distinctive sound—loyal to the roots of the blues but nonetheless zealously exploratory—is still potent. His harp playing resonates with echoes of heroes and mentors (Junior Wells, Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, Carey Bell), and he and his band tackle a broad range of material, including a lilting, sophisticated number tinged with bossa nova (“Song for My Mother”), exuberant, street-tough funk-rock (the title track and “Sons of Blues”), and traditionally conceived but innovative takes on postwar urban blues (Little Walter’s “Crazy Mixed Up World,” John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom”). The album’s centerpiece, though, is “Going to See Miss Gerri One More Time,” Branch’s tribute to Gerri Oliver, former proprietor of Gerri’s Palm Tavern on 47th Street. Tenderly affectionate yet bristling with righteous anger, it’s as eloquent a piece of storytelling as Branch has yet recorded, and with its melody and arrangement—delicate and slightly folksy, enriched by subtly crafted chordal and melodic textures—he displays a facet of his musical personality that he’s seldom revealed before. —David Whiteis Demetria Taylor opens. Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues also play on Sat 2/15 at Rosa's.

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