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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Will Branch's Weekend Folk Stardom

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Will Branch is a certified teacher in the Music Together program and a bona fide weekend rock star. Off the Cuff spoke with him about hunting memoirs and newborn jam sessions.

Your band's name, Fox & Branch, sounds like a hunting memoir.

Zero creativity involved. My last name is Branch and Dave's is Fox. Our first gig was as "Branch and Fox," but Dave has seniority.

That was 15 years and nearly 1,000 shows ago. We've played festivals, clubs, restaurants, coffeehouses, libraries and schools. I do most of the singing—also guitar and banjo. Dave plays guitar, too, along with the fiddle and washboard.

Locally, we play the last Sunday of every month at Anodyne Coffee in Bay View. It's an 11 a.m. show for children and parents, and it's free.

“Music Together”—isn't all music together?

Music Together is actually an international program. It's a body of music as well as an approach. Children develop musically just as they do verbally: by imitating, playing and making mistakes. Music Together creates a space for just that. It's a rich learning environment and fun.

Classes are for children (from birth through kindergarten) and caregivers. Do newborns really jam?


You're never too young. There are infants in several of my classes. They sit in their parent's lap and bounce to the music. There's a clear pattern of response that starts in infancy. They're absorbing.

What kind of music are we talking about?


Big repertoire—300-400 songs—from all cultures and traditions. There are unusual scales and time signatures. Most importantly, it all sounds great—great musicians, recorded and mixed well. That's important, because when a child has a favorite, they want to hear it over and over.

Do you hear them in your sleep?


My only music dreams contain new melodies. When I'm lucky enough to write them down—I've written a few songs that way.

I do have a Music Together favorite, though: one of the klezmer pieces—we do a circle dance to it.

Do your neighbors move a lot?


Well, the classes aren't taught at my house. Otherwise, I would get complaints. Other occupants of the building have talked to me. I try to arrange it so that everyone is happy.

If people are interested in joining the party?


Check out the websites www.mrwillsmusictogether.com and www.musictogether.com.