Mike Branton Band

Mike Branton Band

BandBluesJam

Blues guitarist Mike Branton plays his original blues compositions with an edge. It's the sound that SRV and Jimi would be playing today.

Biography

Mike Branton is a man in love with the blues. It was his first musical passion, and one that has remained in full bloom over the years. After making a name for himself as a young guitar prodigy, he has evolved into a triple threat. His signature fluent and exciting guitar playing is as potent as ever, and Mike has now emerged as a highly talented and original singer and songwriter.

The Oakville-based Branton is not just borrowing from the classic blues repertoire but adding to it in the form of fresh new compositions. His talent as a singer/songwriter was showcased on his solo debut, Dirty Feet.

Since then, Mike has been honing his songwriting chops, and he will soon begin recording a keenly-anticipated new album. “It will be a little more song-oriented and won’t feature as much jamming as on Dirty Feet.”

Branton first picked up the guitar at age nine, primarily learning by ear. “I’d try to pick things up off the radio or from albums,” he recalls. “My dad played a bit when he was young, and I had free rein with his collection. I was lucky there, as it was all really good stuff!”

Indeed. The appetite of the musically voracious younger Branton was fed with the likes of records from the early British blues boom (John Mayall, Peter Green) as well as such blues pioneers as Albert King, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker. As I got older the guys I started to gravitate towards were like Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, and Luther Tucker, the disciples of the big guys. I liked the younger guys for their attitude. Like any blues-loving kid growing up in the ‘80s, Mike listened to plenty of Stevie Ray Vaughan, while Jimi Hendrix had a predictable impact. “After you hear him you just realize you have to keep going and hope for the best,” he says.

At 17, and still in high school, he began playing in blues-rooted bar bands, his skills having caught the ears of older players. One such musician was Stu Heydon, described by Branton as “my real mentor. He was the first one to take me on the road, and through him I got to meet a lot of the Windsor and Detroit blues guys.”

By the mid ‘90s, Mike was touring Western Canada with Stu Heydon & The Blues Persuaders, and they also played the 1997 and 1998 Carmel Soul & Blues Revue in California. A real confidence boost came a decade ago on a visit to the blues mecca of Chicago, as Mike reminisces. “I hit the open stage at Buddy Guy’s club, and they wouldn’t let me off. One of the guys there plays guitar with Koko Taylor, and he kept calling me back up!”

Fronting his own bands helped Branton discover his own voice as both a blues singer and songwriter. “I don’t think I found the beginning of my groove until I was about 22,” he recalls. “That’s when I thought to myself ‘it’s time to get serious.’ You can only be a guitar player in a blues band for so long before you have to bring something else to the table. Blues guitar players are a dime a dozen. You have to be able to sing and to carry a night by yourself. People don’t want to hear guitar solos all night unless you’re Hendrix or Segovia!”

By this stage, Branton was gaining confidence in his songwriting ability. “I finally felt I could write and sing my version of this music. I felt I’d lived enough that perhaps it was worth hearing.” Indeed, and that is vividly illustrated on Dirty Feet, a stylistically eclectic debut album that finds Branton equally at home on soulful bluesy jams, and a superb rendition of the John Lee Hooker classic “Serves You Right To Suffer” and from the virile instrumental title (and opening) track through to closing ballad “Give Me One,”

Since the record’s release, Mike has remained active on the Ontario blues circuit and as a guitar teacher. His artistic potential recently caught the attention of the music industry team from Pacemaker Entertainment. Their involvement guarantees a higher profile for Mike’s next album, and that’s good news indeed.

Mike Branton’s love affair with the blues still burns hot and heavy, and for that we can be very grateful.

Discography

"Dirty Feet" debut CD now available through Pacemaker Entertainment