Jon Langford (Mekons, Waco Brothers, etc.) appeared on the free Millenium Stage last night in, as he described it, "the world's biggest room." He plays mostly country-western with a few diversions into rootsy rock and roll and folk. If you like Johnny Cash and Nick Cave's murder ballads, well then you might like this. My only complaint is that the amplied drums sounded lousy in this room (when played loud) because of the fast echoing. The bass also had similar problems when it was turned up. But there's not much they can do about that except play softly and just let the microphones do their job.
He mostly performed songs from his CD set The Executioner's Last Songs but there was a version of the "Mekons Rock and Roll" (the original version is available on iTunes). He did a song he wrote about fellow Welshman Tom Jones coming across the Atlantic to become the King of Wales ("Tom Jones Levitation") and then later covered Jones's "Delilah" (also on iTunes) which he described as the Welsh National Anthem. The highlight for me was a cover of Lonesome Bob's "The Plans That We Made", a great murder and love ballad.
The backing band is called Ship and Pilot (it's different from the Pine Valley Cosmonauts who are credited on the Executioner's Last Songs benefit compilation). In the picture above (click to enlarge), that's Tony Maimone (left) (Pere Ubu) on bass bango(?), ex-local and no stranger to making noise Jean Cook (Beauty Pill) on violin (right) and the Dan Massey on drums. Barry Mills (who is unseen in the picture behind Jean) controlled the video in the back from a keyboard like device. You can stream the entire thing from the Kennedy Center's archives. And oh yeah, he had some good in-between song banter about "Mad King George", his thoughts on Nashville and country music and how he lost his luggage and bought a new pair of black jeans in town. He's in Arlington, VA tomorrow night where he'll play the entire Executioner's Last Songs w/the full multi-media presentation.
Here's a Langford song from the Esopus #4 Imaginary Friends compilation (still on sale) which I embarassingly wrote about several weeks ago.
"W" - Jon Langford
via Bloodshot Records:
"Bad News" - w/Alejandro Escovedo, Dave Alvin and Jon Langford
And here's a link to brothers-in-arms Songs:Illinois recent post on The Waco Brothers