Billy Bragg played SXSW (pics), played w/ Wayne Kramer, Tom Morello & other special guests for Jail Guitar Doors
photos by Tim Griffin
For all I know, lo these many hours later, the Jail Guitar Doors are still rocking onstage at the Ghost Room, one musician/activist after another taking the stage in apparently endless succession. At the shank’s end of Friday night, the loose-knit collective of folkies, rockers and rappers showed no sign whatsoever of relenting as last call inexorably approached.
After taking the stage almost an hour late, ringleaders Billy Bragg and ex-MC-5 guitarist Wayne Kramer set up housekeeping on the tiny corner stage and began ushering one guest star after another in from the outdoor beer garden.
It was a case of hey, look, there’s Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters! There’s Mike Mills from R.E.M. rocking CSNY’s “Ohio!” There’s Rage Against the Machine‘s Tom Morello shredding guitar with funk-rappers Street Sweeper Social Club! There’s Billy Bragg wryly declaiming the origins of Jail Guitar Doors to Wayne Kramer, standing at his side: “I said I named it after a song by the Clash,” said Bragg. And Wayne said, ‘Yeah, I’m in it.’ I said, what? He said, ‘What’s the first line?’ and I realized it was ‘Let me tell you about Wayne and his deals with cocaine.’ I felt about this big.”
Bragg went on to explain that JDG (which Kramer aptly described as “the loudest charity on earth”) was formed in England as a collective of musicians who put the redemptive power of music into action by making instruments and outreach programs available to jail inmates. An ex-con himself, Kramer became an ally with Bragg and helped get the ball rolling on this side of the pond. Their SXSW gig, they said, marked the American debut of Jail Guitar Doors.
Just that morning, said Bragg (a lifelong political activist for a host of social justice causes), the group had played at the Travis County Jail. “This is the after-party,” he said. [Austin 360]
The above-described Jail Guitar Doors show was one of a few Billy Bragg played in Austin this SXSW. Another show (which is pictured in this post) was Monday night (3/15), before SXSW Music even started. It was at the “British Music Embassy” (@ Latitude 30, 512 San Jacinto). The “Strummerville / Jail Guitar Doors Presents” show also featured sets by Chris Shiflett, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, Beans On Toast, Smokey Angle Shades, Nat Jenkins, Supernovas, and The Good The Bad (who were fresh off the plane from NY). More pictures from that show below…
The Good The Bad
Smokey Angle Shades
Beans On Toast
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly