Billy Branch Attends L V Banks'
College of the Blues by Gatorman

Posted on 1/28/2010 by Gatorman

(Chicago, Illinois) Let me say this up front, “Billy Branch is the top Mississippi saxophone player in the world”. Mr. Branch is a three time Grammy nominee and well deserving of such accolades.. I met Billy a number of years ago through a mutual friend John. John is a music rep who owns Jamm Distributing based out of a far south suburb of Chicago.

Billy is a native Chicagoan who was raised in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois and holds a degree in political science. His initial goal was to become a lawyer. During those  college years Billy would hang out at one of the most legendary blues clubs that Chicago has ever birthed; Theresa’s Lounge. Sadly the club is no longer with us, but it lives on in blues folklore. Billy served a dream blues apprenticeship under the tutelage of such greats as Carey Bell, Junior Wells, Big Walter Horton, James Cotton and the great Willie Dixon. He replaced Cary Bell in the famous Willie Dixon's Chicago Blues All Stars. He now performs with the greatest blues band that has ever graced the blues stage. They are “The Sons of Blues” S.O.B’s for short. The S.O.B.’s are; Nick Charles - Bass - Vocals, Dan Coscarelly - Guitar - Vocals, Ariyo - Piano - Vocals and Mose Rutues - Drums - Vocals. (Happy B-day)

This past Saturday I took my blues buddy the Great L. V. Banks to see Billy Branch and the S.O.B’s at Rosa’s Lounge. Rosas’s is an outstanding blues club that is warm and friendly. Its owners have to be commended for keeping it that way.

L V and Nick Charles go all the way back to Greenfield Mississippi. Nick credits L V as his blues mentor. L V Banks certainly deserves all the credit he can get. He is a living legend. When Billy Branch performs and L V is in the house he always  acknowledges L V as the senior statesman of the blues. He is correct. There are not many artists like him left. He is old school blues and that is my favorite kind.

Billy called L V up. L V slowly made his way through the crowd to the stage. L V used Dan’s guitar because he left his at home. The first note from that guitar turned all eyes towards the stage. A smile came across Billy Branch's face as the sweet bluesy, soulful sounds of the senior statesman poured into the audience and filled the late night Chicago streets.

Mr. Banks plays one of my favorite style of blues, namely Lumpty Lump. It was like Jimmy Reed and Elmore James were in the house, but make no mistake about the comparison,  L V is the master. People rushed the stage and danced and danced and danced. L V, on that stage, on that night, in that small, maybe 100 person full club made blues magic happen. If there is a blues God he most assuredly was listening . It is a rare occurrence in this age of youtube and blues wannabes to hear and see such a. legendary artist.

I was personally overwhelmed with emotion, because not only was L V on stage, but Billy Branch, Nick Charles, Mose Rutues and Aryio were also. They were backing up L V and for that short 20 minutes L V took them all to school. Somehow I do not think anyone minded. Dan unfortunately had to sit out. I do not think he minded either, because there are just a handful of people that can say "L V Banks once played my Guitar."


L V Banks CD can be purchased here

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