Ramer, AL (WSFA) - Warren Shirley is not a world class musician, he'll be the first to tell you that. But it's what he plays, that makes his style, outside the box. He takes an old cigar box, common materials found around the home, and turns it into a sweet sound. He makes cigar box guitars. "They gained popularity during the Great Depression era, when people didn't have enough money to buy regular instruments," Shirley said.
His passion for these homemade sounds started after a life changing experience. "I had a heart attack in this room right here." It nearly killed him and he faced a long road to recovery. While fighting off cabin fever, stuck inside, his wife had an idea. "She noticed me bouncing off the walls and said lets go find some of those boxes and see if you can make one." He'd seen them before. He has a friend in south Alabama who plays this instrument. So he gave it a try and fell in love. "With a cigar box there are no rules. You can build them how you want with what you want." So he did, using things like door plates, old sink drains, modified bolts, anything to hold down the strings and let the cigar box sing.
It's a hobby and a passion that helps his heart recover every day. "Sometimes when people suffer a heart attack, they battle depression. I get great enjoyment from this, finding different ways to build them." They're all a one of a kind, just like the guy who makes them. You can check them out yourself at the 2010 Pike Road Arts and Crafts Fair on October 6th in Pike Road.