Listening to the MekonsEXISTENTIALISM this morning, I spoke parts of the following to my husband…jet-lagged, and not as precise as I’d like to think is my usual, here’s an attempt to capture my words/thoughts, after a little more caffeine:
I can’t believe I never knew of the Mekons until I met [you] my husband. Not because I knew so many bands, but because the music of the Mekons goes straight into the body, to reach the tender bit that is humanity, or something else I can’t articulate. Anyway, their music feeds that part. As I listened this morning, I thought, why doesn’t everyone see this? Maybe it’s just an inescapable fact of independent art-making, the small batches that come from not being a Big Famous Commercial Commodity. Microbrew of sound. An acquired taste? We should all acquire it. If the world were just, their sounds would spill out to all humanity. We’d hear the Mekons piped through the air in sports bars and over sidewalks. (Wouldn’t that be a different world?) If that happened, we’d have to wake from complacency and consumption; I wonder if we’d ever get anything “done.” If the trains could possibly still run on time, if making and selling widgets would still be relevant, or if our inner parts would thrive better, if we’d get off our rumps beyond widget-making, and make art.
…help me answer these and other raggedy questions by purchasing EXISTENTIALISM from Bloodshot Records here. (And add the most excellent ANCIENT AND MODERN for just $8.95 more!)
Here’s a sweet video of Jon Langford and Jean Cook doing the song “Are You An Entertainer?” If you have 4 minutes and 54 seconds to watch it, please do (you’ll thank me!).
And if you’re near Yellow Springs, take note: Tickets for the Antioch School Gala are still available. YOU CAN SEE THESE TWO AMAZING HUMANS PERFORM LIVE, ON MARCH 4, IN YELLOW SPRINGS, OHIO!
Life may seem nasty, brutish, and short, but we need to find the bright spots where we can.
This event is a vital fundraiser for the country’s oldest democratic school. The ticket price includes food, an open wine bar, and performance by Jon Langford and Jean Cook. Where are you going to get a deal like that anywhere else? For more information, check out the School’s website here.
Read the Dayton City Paper piece about Jon Langford and the Antioch School Gala here! (However: Please note that the Gala is happening ONE NIGHT ONLY! Saturday, March 4, at 6pm. For more information, or to buy tickets, you can call the school at 937.767.7642 or go here
This convergence makes me giddy. The Antioch School is important to me: I attended the school when I was a kid, and now my daughter is in fourth grade there. It’s the oldest democratic school in the country. (I’ve blogged about the school here.) The annual auction gala is how the school raises the majority of funds to provide scholarships. It’s a really fun evening, with wine, goodies, a silent auction and live auction with the most entertaining auctioneer I’ve ever seen.
The Antioch School’s 2017 Auction Gala will feature an intimate concert with internationally-celebrated songwriter and painter Jon Langford on Saturday, March 4, 6pm, at the Foundry Theater, Antioch College campus, 920 Corry St., Yellow Springs. Langford will be performing with long-time collaborator, violinist Jean Cook.
The Antioch School Auction Gala is the school’s largest fundraiser, with proceeds supporting the scholarship fund.
The gala will include both silent and live auctions, gourmet hors d’oeuvres from Current Cuisine, open wine bar, and dessert. Live auction items in the past have included a one-week stay at St. Croix, US Virgin Islands; a “Day in the Life” documentary featuring the winner’s family, created by an Emmy Award-winning Yellow Springs-based filmmaker; and a private wine tasting with the area’s leading sommelier. The silent auction features over a hundred items, such as B&B overnight getaways, fine dining at area restaurants, tickets to theatrical and cultural events, fine art and jewelry from local artisans, and health and wellness sessions.
The Welsh-born Langford has been a resident of Chicago, Illinois since the mid 1990s. He was a founding member of art-collective the Mekons, one of the longest-running and most prolific bands from the first wave of British punk. The band started while Langford and other members were in art school at Leeds University, Leeds, England. The Mekons have released 20 albums since 1979, and the band is featured in a 2014 documentary, Revenge of the Mekons, directed by Joe Angio. The Mekons’ most recent album is a book-and-CD package called Existentialism.
But one band is not enough. Langford records and performs as Jon Langford and Skull Orchard, and is a member of the Waco Brothers and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts (in Chicago) and Jon Langford’s Men of Gwent and The Three Johns (England and Wales). His most recent project is Bad Luck Jonathan.
With the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, a loose confederation of Chicago musicians, Langford organized a tribute album of music by Texas Swing master Bob Wills; backed Australian Aboriginal country singer Roger Knox; and released three various-artists volumes of murder ballads called The Executioner’s Last Songs, to benefit the Illinois anti-death penalty movement.
Charismatic and entertaining, Langford’s work is imbued with themes of social justice and humor. “He also never lets a firm stance or a strong opinion get in the way of a hearty laugh or a ripping good yarn, preferably told in the company of friends with a frothy pint glass within reach,” says Bloodshot Records.
Besides music, Langford is a respected visual artist known for his striking icon-portraits of legendary country music stars and other musicians, including Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash. He also creates song-paintings, which intertwine with and accompany his music. Langford’s punk rock instincts and unparalleled draftsmanship come together in a painting style that is distinctive, engaging, and challenging.
An exhibit of Langford’s paintings is scheduled to coincide with his performance at the Gala. The exhibit will be at Emporium Wines/Underdog Café, 233 Xenia Avenue, Yellow Springs. There will be an opening on March 4 from 3pm to 6pm, including a talk about his art and a short teaser-performance of songs.
Tickets for the Antioch School’s auction gala concert are $55 and can be purchased by using the link on the school’s website, www.antiochschool.org, or by calling the school at (937) 767-7642.
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…
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.