Thursday, September 5, 2013

Billy Bragg and Wayne Kramer at Amoeba, 9-5-13

Billy Bragg receives certificate from Mitch O'Farrell
Billy Bragg and Wayne Kramer founded Jail Guitar Doors, an organization which provides musical instruments to inmates. The organization was named after the song by The Clash, a song that actually mentions Wayne Kramer in its lyrics. Today at Amoeba in Hollywood they were given certificates by Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, honoring them for their work in that field.

The presentation started just after 11:30 a.m., with Councilman O'Farrell introducing them and speaking a bit about their work. He mentioned that online they’re labeled “left wing activists,” but he thinks of them as human rights activists. He read one of the certificates, then presented them, first to Wayne Kramer and then to Billy Bragg, both of whom then spoke. Billy Bragg said, “We understand as a musician that a guitar can help you, or any instrument can help you to momentarily transcend your surroundings.” This presentation ended at 11:49 p.m.

At precisely noon, Wayne Kramer took the stage and performed two songs solo on acoustic guitar. The first was that wonderful Merle Haggard tune, “Sing Me Back Home.” Years ago I heard an old recording of the Grateful Dead performing this song in the early 1970s, and it struck me as so sad and beautiful. And since then, this song has held a special place for me.

After that song Wayne talked a bit about The Clash, and how he found out they were MC5 fans (Wayne Kramer was a founding member of MC5). And then he played “Jail Guitar Doors.” It was great hearing a solo acoustic version of this song.

He then introduced Billy Bragg, and yielded the stage to him. Billy also played two songs, the first being a cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Both that and his second song are songs that he plays when he visits prisons. The second song was his own “I Keep The Faith.”

This short concert ended at approximately 12:25 p.m. Tomorrow night the two of them (along with Jackson Browne, Dave Alvin, Jill Sobule and others) will be performing a show at the Ford Theatre to benefit Jail Guitar Doors.

Wayne Kramer, Mitch O'Farrell and Bill Bragg
Wayne Kramer introduces "Sing Me Back Home"
Wayne Kramer sings "Jail Guitar Doors"
Billy Bragg sings "Redemption Song"
Billy Bragg sings "Redemption Song"
Wayne Kramer and Billy Bragg after the show

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