Cell-block rock comes with a sober message

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The Independent US

The jailhouse may not have exactly rocked, but inmates at one of America's most notorious prisons certainly began to swing when they were treated to a concert by the country star Bonnie Raitt.

The singer performed a two-hour set in front of 2,000 inmates at San Quentin prison in California as part of a project to take free, live entertainment to people who live in institutions or are otherwise excluded from society.

In an interview before the concert, Raitt, who was once addicted to alcohol and drugs, told the BBC: "We are all here together. We're all just one infraction away from being in a prison ourselves."

Raitt, who volunteered for the concert, which was organised by the group Bread and Roses, added: "Music can heal. This is a community that deserves to have music."

Jeanne Woodford, warden at the prison, which contains California's only Death Row, said: "The idea really isn't to entertain, although entertainment is a part of it. It is really to send a message – that clean and sober is the way to go."

One inmate, Brad Bennetto, a recovering heroin addict, said after last Saturday's concert: "We're still part of society. Maybe we're the undesirable part but you're going to have to deal with us eventually."