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Light side 

Andru Branch steps into the spotlight and performs a rare live show this weekend for ECMW.

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It's hard out there for a Halifax reggae act. But for different reasons than you think.

"We used to sell out shows twice a year at the Marquee," says Andru Branch, Halifax's Juno-nominated reggae star. "The audiences are there but there's not much of a West Indian community, so it can be hard to find players."

Yet part of the reason he stayed in Halifax---he first moved here from Toronto to be with his dying mother---was that Brian "Bassie" Atkinson, one of the world's most legendary reggae bass players, lived in East Preston. Atkinson joined Branch's band, Halfway Tree, in 2002. Their latest release, Step Into The Light was completed last June.

It took another eight months to plan an official CD launch event. Branch had a dream of showcasing at Folk Alliance, the world's largest folk and roots gathering. With support from an Indiegogo campaign and Music Nova Scotia, Branch and Halfway Tree played the event in Toronto---its first time in Canada in a decade---and launched the album at the legendary El Mocambo.

The album's been nominated for an ECMA for World Recording of the Year. Branch will perform at an ECMW showcase March 9 at the Waterfront Warehouse. It's a little overdue, but he expects it'll be the first of many.

Andru Branch w/John Gracie, Jeff Goodspeed, Asia & NuGruv, Zulkamoon, The Caravan, Saturday, March 9, 8pm, The Waterfront Warehouse,1549 Lower Water Street, $20

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