(Terrible photo of) Jon Langford, Jean Cook, and Jim Elkington at Clay Street Press
My soul has been itching to post about seeing Jon Langford in Cincinnati. Now, spring evaluations turned in and a writing deadline met (with almost 2 hours to spare) I can breathe in and out and recall that evening…
Jon Langford, artist, singer, songwriter, bandleader, troublemaker, anti-sellout punk rocker was putting on an art show at Clay Street Press and concert at MOTR Pub. My husband and I went down to the edge of Ohio to see and meet him. (Jon Langford of the Mekons, of the Waco Brothers, of the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, of the Wee Hairy Beasties. Jon Langford the generous, gregarious collaborator and instigator. Jon Langford who does stuff like this despite the cold in Madison, making me feel like I’m not doing enough to help the cause of the worker and humankind, but somehow it’s still useful to live, and try. Jon Langford of whom I am a newish fan, but I guess there’s still time to gush.)
I had a lovely conversation with Skull Orchard violinist Jean Cook, told her how my four-year-old daughter (beginning fiddler, who loves the music that swirls around Langford) is a big fan of hers. Jean Cook was kind, and wonderful to watch play. Langford is one of those people who surrounds himself with other great people, whose work fits into this fantasy I have about a group of creative humans converging to forge an exquisite tool that splits open the world, reconfiguring it into a place where people make instead of trash things, where the work people do brings honor, intrigue, and inspiration to the inside of the soul’s corners…
I just wanna be there.
Dream alert: This morning I had a dream. I was in Seattle, working at the Annex Theatre with some of the people who were there in the 1990s. (It’s notable that I worked there briefly in the real 1990s but never felt cool or connected to the core of the place, to its inner tribe.) In the dream, it was 45 minutes to curtain, and I kinda knew my lines, but wasn’t confident. I had a small role, and I decided I really didn’t care if I knew my lines–I’d wing it. (This is progress. Usually my theatre dreams center around having to go onstage in five minutes, having just gotten the script. Classic, clichéd performance anxiety dreams.) In this morning’s dream, as we were getting ready for the show, in the velvety backstage light, I put Langford’s Skull Orchard Revisited on the turntable and on came “Tom Jones’ Levitation.” I asked one of the Annex guys what he thought of the music. He dug it; everyone did. It was one of those peak moments where art meets heart and you really can fly, like Tom Jones. Someone gave me a bag of home-grown dried peppers. I asked if they would help me stop sweating and feel less nervous, or if they were the kind to have with chocolate. (Yeah, chocolate was the answer.) The moment was one of ensemble. Of generosity. We were doing our work, and all was well in this badly broken world.
Taking me back to Jon Langford. Watching, witnessing, meeting one of the remaining anti-sellouts fed my creative soul, swept out shadows, sweated out, through peppers and chocolate and dreams, the chaff, jettisoned all the gunk that stops me making stuff. Lifted me from the daily overwhelm, through silence and apathy, allowing me to write anything.
I think people who do stuff like this give others license to create.
Eternal gratitude to all who are even considering what we do, and make, and how we live.
(Read Part 2…)