Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues: Roots and Branches, The Songs of Little Walter (Alligator/Southbound)

 |   |  <1 min read

My Babe
Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues: Roots and Branches, The Songs of Little Walter (Alligator/Southbound)

Harmonica player and singer Little Walter – Marion Walter Jacobs – died in 1968 just as the British blues boom was taking off although he'd achieved some career acclaim (he still wasn't 40 when he died after a fight) he didn't live long enough to see how big the blues – and its acolytes – would get in Britain and Europe.

A gifted and innovative harmonica player, he had been in demand in Chicago, enjoyed hits, played on numerous sessions for Chess artists and lead his own band.

The imposing Billy Branch – born in Chicago, raised in LA, made his name back in Chicago in the Seventies – has appeared on albums by Koko Taylor, Willie Dixon, Keb Mo, Taj Mahal, Johnny Winter and many others, has lead his own band for decades (in 2017 he celebrated 40 years with various lineups of Sons of the Blues, won plenty of awards and is now back on the Alligator label which would seem his natural home for his powerful style and the heft his band bring.

Although they pick up some of Little Walter's more familiar songs – Nobody But You, My Babe, Big Bill Broonzy's Key to the Highway, Blues with a Feeling among the 14 tracks – Branch and band bring a tough swing sensibility (notable in the playing of pianist Ariyo Ariyoshi) and some blues-rock from guitarist Giles Corey.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable tribute which is respectful enough but which they punch their own stamp onto.

And it ends with Little Walter's daughter Marion Diaz fondly reminiscing about her dad.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Blues articles index

Gregg Allman: Low Country Blues (Universal)

Gregg Allman: Low Country Blues (Universal)

Gregg Allman is as well known for his marriage to Cher in the 70s and battles with drug'n'alcohol as he is for co-founding the seminal Southern blues-rock Allman Brothers Band with his long-gone... > Read more

Otis Taylor: Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs (Telarc)

Otis Taylor: Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs (Telarc)

A copy of this album has been in and out of my player for at least two months and I assumed it had already been released some time back and I'd missed my chance to comment. But the amount of... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Miami Beach, Florida: Riders on the storm

Miami Beach, Florida: Riders on the storm

“This corner here?” says Marty. “These individuals would mostly be dealers or users. Crack mostly. That girl over there, the skinny one? That was her brother, the guy in the... > Read more

WOMAD TARANAKI CONSIDERED (2015): Stuffing yourself at the musical buffet

WOMAD TARANAKI CONSIDERED (2015): Stuffing yourself at the musical buffet

Driving in to New Plymouth at lunchtime on Friday under beautiful Taranaki skies, I scanned the channels and caught someone saying that this year's Womad – due to start about five hours... > Read more