Andy Braun plays guitar, harmonica, ukulele, dulcimer, and adds vocals. He also performs as a solo artist (andybraun.com) as well as with his wife, Rachel, in the aptly named duo "Andy & Rachel". Andy is blessed to be putting his musical gifts to some serious work, not only full-time with Branches Band but also his solo performances and his work with Rachel playing and DJing for weddings and other events (braunmusic.com).
Andy graduated in 2005 with a degree in communication from Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC). He married Rachel in 2007, and they were blessed with a little girl in 2016 (she should be joining the band any day now!). Andy is a member at Pilgrim Lutheran Church (WELS) in Menomonee Falls.
Branches Band is a Milwaukee-based music group with their roots spread all over the country. All of the members met at Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC) and were involved in a number of different musical groups while in attendance: college choir, Revelation, chapel quartets, and bands to name a few. Their first performance as Branches Band was in 2008 after they had graduated. Andy and Rachel had been playing regularly for worship at a mission church in Chicago, and from there someone asked them to play for a Lutherans for Life charity event in Illinois. They wanted the band to have a name to put in the program aside from 'Andy and Rachel', so after careful consideration, "Branches Band" became official.
Following that first concert in the spring of 2008, they decided to pursue Branches Band more fully. That winter they created a Christmas concert program and toured in Wisconsin and Arizona. Within the year, they had two full-length albums recorded. Before long, this ministry grew into full-time work with tours, concerts, and worship services scheduled across the country. Their music ministry began by creating fresh arrangements of familiar hymns and has grown to include an extensive repertoire of original Christian music: children's songs, Psalm settings, and more. They also had the opportunity to present workshops and perform for a number of events including the WELS International Youth Rally and the WELS Worship Conference.
God's blessings abound as this ministry continues to grow. The continued encouragement and support of congregations and individuals throughout the country make this work possible: host families, worship coordinators, pastors, teachers, friends, and families.
Rachel (Schuelein) Braun plays some piano as well as small percussion (including bongos, tambourine, and shaker). Her most prominent instrument is her voice, as she received a degree in vocal performance from Wisconsin Lutheran College in 2007. Rachel is an Arizona native and graduated from Arizona Lutheran Academy in 2003. Rachel and Andy were married in 2007 and have been playing music full-time ever since. When she's not performing with Branches Band or planning weddings or other events (braunmusic.com), she's trying to keep up with their little girl. Rachel is a member at Pilgrim Lutheran Church (WELS) in Menomonee Falls, WI.
Jeremy Bakken (part-time)
Jeremy Bakken is a part-time member of Branches Band who plays bass, piano, recorder, guitar, and adds vocals. He graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran College in 2004 with degrees in mathematics and music composition. His compositions and arrangements are available from serveral U.S. publishers or at jsbakken.com. He has completed coursework toward a doctorate in choral music at the University of Southern California. He currently works full-time as the Director of Sacred Music at Northwestern Publishing House (nph.net) in Milwaukee, WI. He also contributes as a volunteer on the WELS hymnal committee. Jeremy is a member (as well as part-time music coordinator/choir director) at Trinity Lutheran Church (WELS) in Waukesha, WI. Jeremy joins Branches Band for occasional events throughout the year.