You have to go out of your way to avoid Jon Langford in Austin when mid-March rolls around. The broad-shouldered Welshman with the ruddy face and silver crew cut is seemingly playing at every backyard party or creating a ruckus at every Tex-Mex restaurant. He might be accompanied by the legendary British punk band, the Mekons, which he co-founded in 1977. He might be joined by one of his side projects: the Pine Valley Cosmonauts or Skull Orchard. Most often he’ll be with his Chicago cow-punk band the Waco Brothers. Not for nothing is Langford known as “The Mayor of South by Southwest.” But there’s no reason to avoid him; he usually delivers one of the most memorable sets of the SXSW week. During 25 years of attending the conference, I’ve seen him in a dozen different Austin clubs, but my favorite place to catch up with him is the annual Friday afternoon Bloodshot Records party in the backyard of the Yard Dog Gallery on South Congress Street. You enter the narrow stucco building from the street, and the front room is filled with outsider art for sale — including Langford’s own depictions of pop-music ghosts who seem to emerge slowly from the leathery cracks and galactic dots of each picture. You continue through the gallery, out the rear door and into the narrow, grassy backyard, where a white-canvas wedding tent has been erected, now packed full of bodies. After squeezing in, you find the Waco Brothers on the long, shallow stage riser. By the third song, they’re doing Rockette-like leg kicks and by the eighth they’re pouring whiskey over each other’s heads. Far from spoiling the music, these antics seemed to remove the last few restraints from a band that thrives on pell-mell momentum and loosey-goosey spontaneity. The Clash-meets-Cash songs, a... Sign In to Keep Reading
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