There is hardly a time I can’t remember music as a part of my life. Singing harmonies in the car with family to songs on the radio and creating background music in my head to daily activities. Growing up in one of the most exciting times for pop music; Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show, The Beatles coming to America, The Beach Boys, and on and on. As soon as possible I started music lessons in elementary school, first the piano, then the violin, and finally settling on drums. I stuck with the drums through senior high school. It was during this time I started wanting to write songs and realized I needed to learn a different instrument to be able to do this. While watching some friends jam some blues at a local hang out I was inspired by their ability to improvise and create on the spot. It was then that I decided, “This is what I want to do.”
I started learning by getting the guitarist I was playing drums with to teach me some chords and songs. I bought a Sears Silvertone guitar for $10 that had belonged to Steve Vaughn, now better known as Stevie Ray Vaughn. One of my neighbors wanted to play drums so I got him started on my kit and moved over to fronting our band. We started off playing gigs any where we could, usually VFW’s and private parties. Finally in the mid 70’s I formed the band Gunpoint with my best friend and fellow guitarist, Lyndon Talbott and signed with the Hatchett Talent Agency in Austin with the help of my good friend Jimmy Wallace. This began my training as a journeyman musician.
It was in the fall of 1979 I decided I might want to go back to school just in case the rock star plan didn’t work out and the University of North Texas was near by and had a great reputation. I was accepted into the Jazz Studies program and so began my formal training. I had the privilege of studying with the great Jack Peterson. I always remember him saying, “I’m going to teach you to understand the guitar. What you do with it is up to you.” I received my Bachelors of Music degree in Jazz Studies in the spring of 1985.
While attending school I began my teaching career at the Melody Shop and later at Frets and Strings on Lovers Lane with some great teachers.
In the summer of 1985 my long time friend Jimmy Wallace approached me about a band he was forming to see if I was interested. Jimmy had been playing with Bugs Henderson and was ready to get off the road and do something different. I was more than ready to get something started especially with the group of guys he was suggesting. John O’Daniel of Point Blank on vocals, Bobby Chitwood on bass, Mike Gage on drums, Matt Tapp on guitar and vocals, Jimmy Wallace on guitar, and me. The Stratoblasters were born, a band with three guitarists functioning like a horn section, three lead vocals, and an incredible rhythm section. The Stratoblasters have been featured at the Dallas International Guitar Festival for years hosting the All-Star Jam backing famous guitarist too numerous to mention. We were also selected to play a private party the Rolling Stones threw in the Dallas’ West End to kick off their Steel Wheels Tour. Keith Richards joined us on stage along with the Stones back-up singers and Bobby Keys on sax. The Stratoblasters also recorded and performed with Gregg Allman.
Other groups I perform with are: 4 Way Street, (a tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young), The j’s, another project Jimmy Wallace and I do together featuring Jenny Ayers on vocals doing classic R&B and rock covers, Gunpoint my old group that reunited playing Texas style Southern Rock, and I do solo and duo acoustic gigs.
“I’ve taken guitar lessons from Jerry for about two years. If you’ve ever seen him play, you must agree that he’s an amazingly talented guitarist. His vast knowledge of music theory and the guitar is truly astounding. When teaching a specific guitar playing technique, note pattern, or style of playing, he has the uncanny ability to pull songs from his memory and demonstrate how those songs used the same technique, note pattern, or playing style. He’s a teacher who has the ability to explain things in great depth, and truly cares if the student learns, grows and enjoys the guitar.”
“Jerry’s extensive knowledge and background in music allows him to adapt to the student’s musical preferences and learning proficiencies. His experience in teaching and broad spectrum of musical tastes creates a cohesive learning environment and a bond between teacher and student.”
“Jerry is a beacon of light for aspiring blues musicians. He has a wealth of knowledge and has dedicated his life to playing the blues. He goes at your pace and explains things simply and clearly. I had gone through a handful of private instructors, before I met Jerry. Do yourself a favor and hire Jerry and he’ll get you where you want to be.”
“It is one thing to be a brilliant guitar player. It is entirely another thing to relate and transfer this gift in such a way to others that they may also share some success and achievement on the guitar. Jerry Don Branch is such a person. He is a wonderful instructor that simply makes you feel good about music and learning to play the guitar. You will not feel embarrassed or self-conscious with Jerry. I have been privileged to enjoy Jerry’s performances for over 25 years and even more privileged to have taken guitar lessons from him for the last two years. No matter what your level of talent may be, you have something special to learn from Jerry Branch.”
“I have been taking guitar lessons from Jerry for two years. By the third lesson my teacher was my friend. Jerry is an artist in the truest sense of the word. He has the ability to make a lesson seem like a private performance. There is joy in Jerry’s music, even the most mundane notes are played with style, and the man can make scales sound good. My friend Jerry has enriched my life; in the process I’ve learned a little guitar as well.”
“Guitar lessons with Jerry Branch are one of the best life choices I have ever made. He has worked diligently to develop a hidden talent I have always dreamed of.
Thank you Jerry!”
“Guitar lessons are my time to wind down and forget about my stress of the week. Jerry makes things relaxed and easy to learn.”