They call me "The Godfather of the Cigar Box guitar".
I've been playing and making cigar box guitars for over 10 years, and during that time my passion for these strange little instruments has taken me from a hobby to a full-time job. I made my first guitar at the age of 14, played in a punk band back in the '70s and had a record played on John Peel's Radio 1 show. I started playing guitar again as a sort reaction to a mid-life crisis, and re-acquainted myself with old-time blues, country and jazz, listening to artists who's names I knew but didn't really have much familiarity with their actual music.
I started buying, repairing and selling old cheap guitars, the sort of instrument these old-timey musicians would have used, and came across the story that people like BB King and Lightnin' Hopkins, who had made their own first guitars out of a cigar box and a broom handle. This seemed like a bit of fantasy, a folksy tale of hardship and poverty, but I learned a little more about the idea, and made myself a 3 string fretless cigar box guitar. To my amazement it worked and it was playable...as a slide guitar player it was an easy transition for me to learn to play on 3 strings instead of 6...and so it started. I took my little home-made guitar out to open mics and jam sessions, then made another, sold it...and repeated, and repeated until I found myself organising a UK cigar box guitar festival, and at the centre of a whole new home-grown music phenomenon.
So now I make guitars, teach people how to make cigar box guitars and how to play them, organise festivals, play gigs, both solo and with my band Chickenbone Blues and exhibit at guitar shows. My guitars have been featured in the UK and European music press, and I've been on UK and European TV spreading the word about cigar box guitars. In recent years I've taken my "Make & Play" workshops over to Belgium, Germany and Holland, and to date I've had over 2500 attend my workshops, learning to make and play cigar box guitars.