Legendary singer/songwriter, musician and activist Billy Bragg played a sold-out gig at Nailsworth Subscription Rooms on Saturday night, using a guitar that had been built from scratch in just 12 hours.
‘The Great Guitar Build-off’ was the brainchild of Gavin Pond and Pam Brown, who set up Pi Guitars in a workshop at Nailsworth Subscription Rooms, making electric guitars from scratch and using recycled materials – the guitar Billy Bragg played was made from an old kitchen table top.
Pam and Gavin met Billy Bragg when he was playing in Oxford and proposed the idea: “I told him we had this crazy idea of doing a 12-hour guitar build and we wanted him to do a gig at the end of it, and he said, ‘that sounds like the crazy sort of thing I’d enjoy!’” explained Gavin.
The marathon started at 6am on Saturday, with volunteers working on various parts of the instrument – and it all came together in the nick of time: “It’s been a long day, but everything went well,” said Gavin.
“We had a couple of hiccups on the way, but we overcame them all and the strings went on and it was tuned up with about three seconds to spare – then Billy led us in a song.”
The packed concert opened with a number of local musicians, all using instruments made at the workshop. Violinist Theo May, using a violin made by Phil Walters, ended his spectacular set to rapturous applause. Also performing were Gavin Pond and Charlie Orme, Andy Dunn, Jack Page and Philippe Nash.
Billy Bragg took to the stage around 9.30pm playing a number of his well-known tracks, including Sexuality, written in 1991, which had been brought up to date with new lyrics. The performer had clearly not lost his fervour, telling the audience that despite advancing years ‘we can all remain relevant.’
The guitar workshop is opening on Monday and Friday mornings and Gavin is keen to attract more volunteers. Anyone interested should contact him or Pam via the website www.practicalintelligence.org.uk
Pictures and video by Matt Bigwood