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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Billy Bragg Interview

Blogging presents a bit of a conundrum. To have anything interesting to write about, you need to be doing things. But if you are doing things, you don’t have time to blog. Hence this 'ere blog being dormant throughout the summer. If we get a chance we will try to upload some post-dated tales about some of the major things, like festivals, cars breaking down and trips to Wembley. In the mean time, we thought we should let you know we have today updated the website with an interview with Mr Billy Bragg.

Now Mr Bragg is not someone we have paid a lot of attention to in recent years. Back in the 80s we regularly went along to gigs and bought his music; he was a breath of fresh air, he was original, he was funny, his heart was in the right place and he was – well, a good bloke. Over the years though he sort of drifted from being ‘alternative’ to being ‘mainstream’. I don’t particularly recall a point when we stopped listening to him, we just did. One minute he was doing miners benefits in pubs for a fiver and getting played on John Peel, the next he was doing sold out shows in art centres for considerably more than a fiver and appearing on Question Time.

Now there is nothing wrong with art centres and Question Time, it is just that it is territory we don’t usually hang around in (well, not much anyway). Being involved with trade unions and left wing politics he has never been far from our consciousness though. Comrades in the union that rarely go to gigs make the effort for him and whilst we don’t go to see him any more it is easier to have a conversation about Billy Bragg than it is the Tofu Love Frogs.

Earlier on this year we went along to see ‘Breaking Rocks’, the film about Bragg’s project, ‘Jail Guitar Doors’, which takes guitars into prison as a tool for rehabilitation. Our interest in the man briefly went up a notch. Clearly he still has a heart and is interested in developing new talent and helping those less fortunate than himself.

Then there was the election, and he seemed to be turning up all the time talking about the BNP.

Then he turned up at UNISON conference to talk about defending the public sector, fighting the cuts and the possibility of a Robin Hood Tax. We just cannot get away from the bloke.

As it happens, we were at UNISON conference working on some press stuff for the Wales region. Just after he had spoken to conference the press co-ordinator came into the room and asked if we would like to interview Billy, she had arranged for him to be available, but had not arranged for anyone to interview him.

And so it was, we found ourselves sat in a corner of the Bournemouth International with Billy and about a dozen other UNISON amateur journalists. We were told we could have a maximum of one question each and I began to despair when the first question was ‘if you could bring in one law, what would it be?’ Amazingly though, he managed to respond to what we snobbishly thought was a pretty unimaginative question with an extremely imaginative answer. And so it went, no matter how boring the questions, his answers were always articulate, thought provoking and entertaining.

It is easy to see now why he gets invited to speak about a wide range of subjects that one would not normally consider to be matters you would want a ‘pop star’s’ opinion on. The guy is far deeper than we had given him credit for and is an all round nice bloke. How could we not give him space on our website?

Go here and check the man out. Find out more about the Robin Hood Tax, love Music Hate racism and Jail Guitar Doors.

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