Jail Guitar Doors

There’s a moments in every young person’s life, when you really hear music for the first time…and by that, I mean that critical instant…that nanosecond when you realize you’ve been hotwired into a universal amp, where the simple rhymes and sing-a-long choruses of youth give way to that raw power that simultaneously helps channel your high octane teen angst and lets you know that you are not alone….that there are others out there who share those pissed off passions that make you want to challenge everything you’ve been told is right/wrong or good/bad…or normal.

For many young men and women who grew up in what was (to me) a mid-70’s musical wasteland of disco, polyester and arena rock, it was the first time you slapped on the MC5’s live, first album and heard the second song, where vocalist Rob Tyner’s kicked off the track with his now infamous intro line….”and right now… right now… right now it’s time to… KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKERS”.

Listening to the MC5, and then Iggy Pop, and then the Ramones, and then the Clash, and then DC’s own Fugazi…MADE me into the man I am today. My work at the Kitchen has been fueled (and often accompanied) by their music and the power they so fully articulated via that jacked up, in your face, full throttled sonic ROAR that has made me want to get up everyday since and kick out the motherfuckin jams.

What jams?!? The jams that keep Americans divided, or that keep people on the streets or in prison. The jams that leave people hungry, or working people poor, or that keeps business people thinking that they can’t give a wayward son or daughter a job, and with it a second chance at a new life. Or the jam that stops everyday people from thinking they can be part of something bigger, bolder, badder…or from realizing they have more political power than they could ever imagine…in the way they make the simplest, everyday purchases.

That’s just one of the many reason I was so honored to have founding MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer stop by the Kitchen this morning, as part of his effort to expand the base for his new organization Jail Guitar Doors, which brings music into prisons as a means to help men and women behind bars stay plugged into that same universal amp.

After a great tour of the Kitchen (where over 50% of our staff are, like Wayne, former felons) we chatted it up about his efforts, the connection he has to the UK version of Jail Guitar Doors (led by Billy Bragg) and ways we could work together and support Sen Webb’s efforts to get some federal movement on really rethinking the whole prison system.

Crazy…sure…but what the fuck….isn’t that’s what rock and roll is all about. Check it out. And support Wayne. Let your friends know about his work. Make a contribution. And never doubt the redemptive/healing/universal power of music.