Branch & Dean – “Greenlight”

We’ve all heard the verse in Ecclesiastes that tells us “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Few people understand the importance of timing better than new country duo Branch & Dean. Known for their explosive live show and a potent repertoire that includes the unflinchingly raucous anthem “Your Ol’ Lady’s Gone” and the poignant hit “The Dash,” Steve Branch and Dean Scallan have parlayed a lifelong friendship into an exciting creative adventure. “I grew up singing with Branch and I thought if you wanted to be a country singer, you had to be able to sound like the great Steve Branch,” says Dean.

Branch’s distinctive vocals anchor the duo’s breakthrough hit “The Dash,” a tribute to his 23-year-old son Theron who died after years battling Cystic Fibrosis. “The Dash” challenges listeners to make the most of every moment between the birth and death dates that will someday be listed on their headstones. “Life goes by so fast and our story’s defined by how we spend that dash,” Branch sings in the hauntingly beautiful ballad.

“We want to put out music that has meaning and this song has touched so many lives,” says Branch. “We’ve gotten so many letters. We got one just today from a 19-year-old Georgia girl named Allie who is living with Cystic Fibrosis. She said, ‘Your song truly spoke to me and made me think. It made me want to do more for myself in terms of treatment and trying to keep myself healthy. I’ll be seeing you guys at your next performance.’ When you get stuff like that it goes beyond music. It just means so much more because it lets me know that we’re doing the right thing.”

“We know how blessed we are to have a song that is such a gift,” Dean adds. “Music is intended to change lives. That’s what we set out to do and that’s what ‘The Dash’ is all about.”

Though the duo’s self-titled debut album definitely has songs of substance, Branch & Dean aren’t above throwing in some tunes specifically designed for some good old fashioned fun. Produced by Dean, Michael Huffman and Jeff Silvey, Branch & Dean’s debut album is an eclectic mix of rowdy up tempos and heartfelt ballads. “What I Do Best’ is a tender love song while “Buckle Bumpin” is a celebration of honky tonk fun. “Your Ol’ Lady’s Gone” is a particular fan favorite. “It’s a fun song because it’s got yodeling, a little hip hop and a little rock in it,” says Dean. “The song is about how there’s a place for hip hop. It’s fun. There’s a place for rock. It’s fun and we love it all, but also don’t forget about country because there is still a place for real country music.”

“The Forgetter” is a rowdy tune that finds a heartbroken country boy looking for a powerful drink to drown his sorrows. “Ink” paints a portrait of a defiant country girl sporting some interesting tattoos, including an ex-boyfriend’s name that her new man isn’t so happy about seeing every day. The duo close the album with “The Jesus in You,” a modern gospel classic penned by Huffman and Dean that speaks of forgiveness and love.

Though they can skillfully deliver any style, Branch and Dean are most at home making country music. It’s a common denominator from the early days in their hometown Macclenny, Florida. Dean’s mother heard Branch sing “Rose Colored Glasses” at a local talent contest and became a huge supporter, encouraging the young artist to pursue a career and helping him get started by booking him at local venues. “I knew very early that I wanted to do music and I always felt like there was a purpose for it,” says Branch. “As you get older, your eyes open and you see a little bit clearer. It’s all a part of the plan. It’s helping a lot of people and that’s what music is all about.”

Like Branch, Dean had been interested in pursuing a music career since childhood and when he made the move to Nashville, he initially focused on songwriting. His talent earned him the respect of some of Music Row’s top professionals and he began collaborating with some of country’s most acclaimed writers. One day when Dean was playing demos for producer Michael Huffman (who Branch and Dean affectionately call Huff Daddy), his interest was piqued when he heard Branch’s voice. “He said, ‘Who is that singing?’ and I said, ‘That’s Branch, we grew up singing together,’” Dean says. “I told him we’d been friends forever.”

Huffman was excited about the blend of their voices and encouraged the long time friends to record together. “It just happened,” says Dean. “We’ve always been a duo. We were Branch and Dean way before we were Branch & Dean, but Steve went and got his experience his way. I got mine my way and now we both have a lot to offer. It was meant to be. We compliment each other.”

Managed by industry veteran Erv Woolsey, (George Strait’s longtime manager), Branch & Dean have quickly earned the respect of both peers and fans, not only for their distinctive vocal blend and songwriting prowess, but especially for their high-energy live show. “There ain’t no telling what you’ll see in a live show,” Branch says with a big smile. “We have fun on stage and we try to make sure everybody out there is having fun. If it looks like somebody isn’t having fun, I might just come out there and sit by them.”

After years of music and friendship, Branch & Dean’s time has arrived and they are thankful for the opportunity to reach more people with their unique brand of high-octane country. “You never know how big the wave is going to be or how long it’s going to go, but right now we’re having a blast,” says Dean.

They are also using their platform to help make a difference. They have become spokesmen for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and are working to make a difference in the lives of brave people like Theron who battle the deadly disease. “We’ve been wanting to do the music thing forever, but when my son passed and this came about, it changed,” says Branch. “It’s not about being famous or being a big country music star. We don’t care about that. We’re doing what we love to do and when ‘The Dash’ came about, it all changed for us. It’s music with a purpose and there’s a difference.”

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Kelsey Grady is the Web Graphic Designer/Production Manager with MusicRow Enterprises. She started with the company in 2014 with an educational background from Purdue University and School of the Art Institute Chicago. [email protected]

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