Whilst pottering around the Two Old Hippies in the Gulch of Nashville, I couldn’t help but notice somebody wearing a Cigar Box Guitar t-shirt. This turned out to be Keith Crumbley from Alabama.
After I explained my project to Keith, he told me about the cigar box guitars he builds and that he’d like to show me his latest ones that are in the back of his car just up the road.
Whilst I was asking a few questions about the ethos behind his work, another gentleman approached us with a keen interest as he’d never seen these instruments before. He was instantly hooked! Keith kindly explained to him what they’re all about and showed him how they’re built.
During my interview in London for this Fellowship, a member of the panel asked me: “So what exactly does the cigar box guitar movement look like, and how do you know when it’s around?” Well, there’s their answer: It’s in the back of Keith’s car.
Keith was first introduced to cigar box guitars by his son Matt Crumbley who encouraged him to try building one, since then he has built over 50 guitars which he either sells or generously donates to good causes.
Me: So what is it that you enjoy about building cigar box guitars?
Keith: I love to build them to see how they are going to turn out. You never know how they’re going to look or sound until it’s a finished product. Each box is different in shape and size!
Me: Would you say there’s some sort of community spirit surrounding these instruments?
Keith: Yes there’s a community spirit. There are several groups of ‘CBG’ folks that get together to share ideas and play together. There are cigar box festivals that bring a lot of folk who have never heard of cigar box guitars and it also brings together a lot of builders.
Me: Do you think the ethos of cigar box guitars could benefit the youth of our societies?
Keith: Yes it could. It would give our youth of today more knowledge of how the CBG was used as a part of our musical culture. It could also teach them that their hands are capable of making something they can use.
Me: Is there anything else you’d like to say about it?
Keith: George, I think what you’re doing is great by helping to spread the word of this art, building and playing roots musical instruments. Myself along with all the other roots instrument builders would like to thank you for helping keep a heritage alive.