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Jon Langford is Coming to Camp Bacon July 1

If you don’t know Jon Langford, take the chance on July 1 and be at the Ark for his Camp Bacon-sponsored Skull Orchard show. If you do know him, you likely already have a ticket.

Jon hails from Newport in Wales and originally hit the scene with the Leeds punk band the Mekons who pretty quickly abandoned straight ahead punk rock in favor of making music that borrowed from a lot of other traditions–notably from country and folk music at a time when the label alt-country didn’t really have any meaning. The Mekons have never had a Billboard hit but they’re still together making music all over the world and routinely ranking in critics annual lists of top albums. Robert Christgau, from the Village Voice (among many other venues), says “they’ve put out as much good music as anybody in rock and roll.”

Jon moved to Chicago in the 90s and quickly became a mainstay in the music scene there. His band, the Waco Bros., puts on the best live show I’ve ever seen while going all way into the punk-country territory that the Mekons only hint at. He’s started numerous side projects, from the Pine Valley Cosmonauts to the Three Johns (which I’m still waiting to show up on iTunes if only for their cover of “Like a Virgin”) and is one of Chicago’s musical elder statesmen, encouraging, mentoring, producing young musicians that he thinks deserve a wide audience.

Then there’s his art. I didn’t even know he was a artist until I starting noticing a coherent aesthetic that ran across the album covers of the Wacos, Mekons, Cosmonauts as well as solo albums from his various bandmates. Turns out he’s probably more famous for his images of death, decay and country music (they’re all actually kind of funny too so don’t think it’s all goth or anything) than he is for his music. He is repped in galleries all over the word and his originals go for more than I’ll ever be able to afford (good art should cost a lot!).

So, now Ari’s got him coming in for Camp Bacon, and I can’t wait. He’s playing solo acoustic from the album (and art-book project) Skull Orchard which is a collection of songs about his Welsh hometown delivered in the same sometimes-sentimental but never-far-from-sanguine style that is his trademark. (Ari’s got a copy of the book in his black bag so stop him and ask for a look next time you see him). Stephen Haag, writing on popmatters.com says, “It’s no stretch to say that Jon Langford is one of the great populists/raconteurs of our time—friend to the common man, voice to the voiceless. And while some of his projects have possessed varying degrees of sonic ‘punkness’ (the Mekons and the insurgent country stylings of the Waco Brothers), they’ve all been imbued with Langford’s restless, righteous lefty spirit.”

The show is on Friday, July 1 and proceeds benefit the Southern Foodways Alliance. Oh, and as a bonus, if you go see Jon, they’ll throw in a free show from Andre Williams and the Goldstars, too! 😉

You can read a transcript from his interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air here

Tickets are $20 per head, $30 for reserved seats (service fees vary)
and are available at the following places:
In person : Michigan Union Ticket office, The Ark box office (on Main Street in Ann Arbor), Herb David Guitar Studio (on Liberty and Fifth in Ann Arbor)
By phone : Michigan Union Ticket office (734) 763-TKTS (8587)
Online : Through Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com)