Jail Guitar Doors

The story begins in February 2010 when Billy Bragg, Alan Miles, Leon Walker and Johnny Neesom visited Broadway Cinema in Nottingham touring the film ‘Breaking Rocks’. The documentary film tells the story of Billy starting the project (www.jailguitardoors.org.uk for more info) and follows both Johnny and Leon as they successfully complete it. It was an emotional film and after performances from Billy and the lads I had already decided I wanted to help. Luckily I wasn’t the only one and I was put in contact with Candida (equally moved by the film) and together we decided to put on a gig in Nottingham. So on June 6th we hosted the first Jail Guitar Doors Nottingham night at the Rescue Rooms including Johnny and Leon who travelled up specially and we completed the bill with local acts including Guerrilla Radio (several of which work as guards at Nottingham Prison!). The night was a success and saw us raise enough money to start talking to the prison about implementing the scheme. Knowing that Billy was playing in Nottingham on the 2nd of December we bragged (no pun intended), after a few beers, that we would get him into to the prison on the 3rd to deliver the first batch of guitars. But with a lot of hard work from everyone that actually happened! So on a very cold morning we all met at the prison and after processing we were allowed to talk to the inmates, perform and hand over the guitars. Billy opened the proceedings and sang ‘Redemption Song’ and ‘April Fools Day’, Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore (currently on tour with Billy) performed ‘Something, Somewhere, Sometime’ and I got to perform ‘Candlepower in the Eyeglow’ before Billy ended with ‘I Keep Faith’. It was one of the most nerve racking things I think I’ve ever done, not because of the twenty inmates or the twenty staff but the fact that I was playing in front of Billy! But it was all worth it, we had achieved our goal and now we will continue to raise awareness and funds so the scheme can run and run in Nottingham. So a big thank you to all involved those inside and outside the prison, bands, bucket shakers and punters we look forward to seeing you all at the next event.

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