February 17, 2012

Friday night live at Transistor: Julian Dawson and Jon Langford (joined on guitar by Jim Elkington). Sound by Dominic Armstrong.


Julian Dawson, one of England's finest singers and songwriters, has been singing and writing songs for more than 35 years and has made a name for himself in the U.K., the USA and particularly on the European continent. He has released 21 albums of his own songs and has written songs with such legends as Lucinda Williams and Vince Gill; Richard Thompson, Duane Eddy and Gene Parsons have guested on his albums. He has recorded in Nashville, New York and Austin, Texas and has lent his talents as singer and virtuoso harmonica player to many other artists, including Del Amitri, Little Feat, Gerry Rafferty, and, yes, Benny Hill!

He has appeared -- alone, with his band, as a member of Plainsong with Iain Matthews or alongside the Richard Thompson Band -- on BBC Two's "Later With Jools Holland" and at festivals such as Newport Folk Festival, Glastonbury, Cambridge and Cropredy.

Last year he added "author" to his list of accomplishments with the publication of "And On Piano ... Nicky Hopkins," his critically acclaimed biography of rock's greatest session pianist.

Also available: a Julian Dawson Transistor performance from May 8, 2011.


Jon Langford was originally the drummer for the punk band The Mekons when it formed at the University of Leeds in 1977, but he later took up the guitar as other band members left. Since the mid-1980s he has been a leader in incorporating folk and country music into punk rock. He has released a number of solo recordings as well as recordings with other bands outside of The Mekons, most notably the Waco Brothers, which he co-founded after moving to Chicago in the early 1990s. He is involved with the Chicago-based independent record label Bloodshot.

Langford's first official solo album, "Skull Orchard," a look back at his hometown of Newport, Wales, was released in 1998. He followed it with "All the Fame of Lofty Deeds," in 2004, "Gold Brick" in 2006, and "Old Devils" in 2010. Among his musical side projects have been the Three Johns (with John Hyatt and John (Phillip) Brennan), who released several albums of drum-machine-fueled punk in the 1980s; the country-punk Waco Brothers (with Dean Schlabowske, Tracey Dear, Alan Doughty, Mark Durante, and Mekons drummer Steve Goulding), who have been recording since 1995; the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, a revolving assortment of Chicago musicians who have backed both Langford and other musicians such as Kelly Hogan; and Ship and Pilot. He became a father figure to the local music scene, encouraging many of his labelmates on Bloodshot Records and championing anyone he thought worthy of scrutiny, often lending his services as a musician or visual artist or inviting local musicians to guest on his releases. Langford has guested on numerous recordings, including with Dutch punk band the Ex, The Old 97s, Chip Taylor, as well as Austin, Texas legend Alejandro Escovedo, and has recorded joint albums with Sally Timms, Kevin Coyne, Richard Buckner, Kat Ex and Rosie Flores.

Jon Langford is also a prolific and respected visual artist best known for his striking portraits of country music icons including Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. "Nashville Radio," a collection of his artwork and writings, was published in 2006. He illustrated the comic strip "Great Pop Things" under the pseudonym Chuck Death.

Since 2005 he has co-hosted a weekly radio program, "The Eclectic Company," broadcast on WXRT 93.1 FM in Chicago. He has contributed to Public Radio International's "This American Life."

Also available: a Jon Langford Transistor performance from June 19, 2011.


Find more live performance recordings on our archive page.