(born October 3, 1951)
Born in Great Lakes, Illinois, Branch was raised in Los Angeles, California, but in 1969 he moved to Chicago where he attended and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He soon took the place of the harmonica player Carey Bell in a band led by Willie Dixon called the Chicago Blues All-Stars. In the 1970s he founded his own group, The Sons of Blues, along with Lurrie Bell on guitar and Freddie Dixon on bass guitar. They are the sons of Carey Bell and Willie Dixon, respectively, and they recorded for Alligator Records and with a change in personnel for Red Beans Records. The new band consisted of Carlos Johnson on guitar and J.W. Williams on vocals and bass guitar. He has also recorded for Verve Records and Evidence Records. Other than co-headlining Alligator's 1990 summit meeting Harp Attack! with fellow harp masters Junior Wells, Carey Bell, and James Cotton, Branch largely busied himself with extensive sideman work and teaching an innovative "Blues in the Schools" program until 1995. Branch has appeared at numerous major festivals including the Long Beach Blues Festival, Chicago Blues Festival, San Francisco Blues Festival and the North Sea Jazz Festival. Branch is also well known for creating the "Blues in Schools" program (currently endorsed by the Blues Foundation) whereby he would go to schools, often in underprivileged areas, and teach the blues and how to play harmonica.