Billy Bragg urges bands to back Jail Guitar Doors initiative at special screening

Singer-songwriter joined by former inmates at Glasgow documentary screening

Billy Bragg urged bands to back his Jail Guitar Doors project at a Glasgow screening of the documentary about the initiative last night (July 23).

Speaking at the showing of Breaking Rocks at the Glasgow Film Theatre, Bragg told the audience that he “wanted more musicians involved” in the charity.

Jail Guitar Doors, the project set up by Bragg in 2007 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the death of The Clash frontman Joe Strummer, provides instruments to prison inmates to help with rehabilitation.

The film, directed by Alan Miles, is a vivid document of life behind bars and the power of music to help change the lives of inmates. The main narrative of the film follows two prisoners on their path to rehabilitation through songwriting.

After the screening two former inmates played a selection of their own songs which they wrote while inside prison on donated guitars.

Leon Walker from Yorkshire played two songs he wrote in while inside, which feature in the film, along with a brand new track. He was then followed by Jonny Neesome who played his own material which was reminiscent of an early Plan B.

It was then the turn of Bragg . Before playing, Bragg told the audience: “I was wondering what songs to play for you, but I have decided to sing some of the songs I played when I visited these prisons.”

He then played ‘Redemption Song’ by Bob Marley And The Wailers before playing a track co-written with offenders called ’April Fools Day’ and ‘I Keep Faith’.

Speaking to NME after the screening, Bragg rallied support for the charity.

He said: “Any band worth their salt can raise money to help Jail Guitar Doors. You don’t have to be a big band to help. Just £400 can get you half-a-dozen guitars, it’s achievable.”

See for more on Bragg‘s project