June 19, 2011

The Sunday Session: Jon Langford, with a post-performance interview by Rani Young. Sound by Dominic Armstrong.

Sunday evening June 19th Transistor and Transistor Radio presented a special event with Jon Langford reading from his new book, "Skull Orchard Revisited," and playing selections from the "lost" album. Following the performance, Transistor co-owner Rani Woolpert interviewed Jon.

Jon Langford is best known for the music he creates with the Mekons and the Waco Brothers, but he's also gained increasing acclaim for his visual art over the past decade. Nashville Radio, his first book + CD of paintings, writing and music (Verse Chorus Press, 2005) was a sprawling, jam-packed collection full of punk energy. For this book, Langford has created a highly personal portrait of Wales, where he was born and raised.


The starting point was his long unobtainable album "Skull Orchard." For the CD available exclusively with this book, Langford returned to those lost recordings and radically revised them, enlisting as his accomplices the Burlington Welsh Male Chorus, who contribute a unique warmth to the material. Three new tracks have been added, making 18 in all.

Langford illustrated his lyrics for "Skull Orchard," at once autobiographical and fanciful, in a set of "song paintings" created especially for this book, which also includes much more artwork, an A to Z of South Walian culture and history (both personal and general) by Jon's brother, and acclaimed science fiction writer, David Langford, photographs by their father, Denis Langford, and Jon's first published story, a witty, dystopian tale about a whale and a dolphin.

Jon will be touring with his Skull Orchard band throughout 2011 to support this release; his art will be on display at galleries in various cities over the course of the year.

Says New City: "Jon Langford has grit in his voice and melody in his soul. [He's] a punk-rock pioneer, a troubadour for our times, a visual artist of uncommon skill, a singersongwriter who writes with the authority of having lived a life rather than just having imagined it."


Jon Langford was born in Newport, Wales, and studied fine art at Leeds University. He is a founding member of legendary punk band the Mekons, art-metal power trio the Three Johns, and militant hard-country rockers the Waco Brothers. Since moving to Chicago in 1992 he has exhibited his paintings and etchings extensively, designed covers for albums by Hank Williams and Buddy Guy, toured his spokenword multimedia performance, The Executioner's Last Songs, and in 2005 published a collection of his paintings, writings and music under the title Nashville Radio. His most recent album is "Old Devils" (2010) and out on Bloodshot Records.

Background text and images courtesy of Bloodshot Records.

Find more live music archived on our Recordings page.
Find more Sunday Sessions here.