Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues have a new album out called “Blues Shock”. It’s a shock when realizing the recording is their first in fifteen years. The CD was released on Jan. 21, 2014 on Blind Pig Records. It’s not like Billy’s been kicking back and doing nothing. The man plays practically every weekend for who knows how long. He has made countless guest appearances on recordings for others including Lurrie Bell, Eddy Clearwater, Taj Mahal, John Primer, Honeyboy Edwards, etc. He also has a couple of shared recordings with Carlos Johnson and Kenny Neal. Then there is his involvement in the Blues in the Schools program that he has been a part of for some time.
Billy was first discovered by Willie Dixon while attending UIC in Chicago in 1969. Once looked at as part of the new generation on the blues scene, he is now an elder statesman. He has been performing the blues for around four decades now.
Keeping blues tradition alive while mixing in some soul, jazz-influenced, funky beats and dance friendly tunes would describe his new release. The straight ahead blues are displayed in tunes like “Crazy Mixed Up World”, “Back Alley Cat” and “Dog House”. “Baby Let Me Butter Your Corn” invites one to the dance floor. “Sons of Blues” is a little funky, while “Song For My Mother” is a jazz-influenced instrumental. “Function at the Junction” is vintage soul. “Going to See Miss Gerri One More Time” is a tribute ballad to Gerri Oliver who ran the landmark Palm Tavern on 47th Street. It was the Bronzeville neighborhood’s center for entertainment in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. Billy even took the song to the nursing home for 93 year old Miss Gerri to hear. There’s also a nice cover of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom”. Billy and the band put their own stamp on it.
The current lineup of the SOBs include guitarist Dan Carelli. He’s the newest member of the band and the youngest. Nick Charles is on bass. Moses Rutues keeps the drum beat. Sumito Ariyoshi is on keyboards.