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Waco Brothers

Waco Brothers are one of many projects spearheaded by Jon Langford, the frontman of the seminal British punk band the Mekons. An alternative country outfit based in Langford's adopted home of Chicago, Waco Brothers' approach grew out of mid-'80s Mekons records like Fear and Whiskey and The Mekons Honky Tonkin', which explored the group's interest in roots music. After the Mekons eventually returned to a more straightforward, punk-flavored sound, Waco Brothers emerged over a decade later as a vehicle for Langford's long-dormant country leanings. Fusing honky tonk and rockabilly with Langford's typically political lyrics, the group was for the most part comprised of fellow British expatriates, including drummer Steve Goulding (who plays with the Mekons and was a member of Graham Parker's the Rumour), bassist Alan Doughty (ex-Jesus Jones), steel guitarist Mark Durante (who worked with KMFDM), and mandolinist Tracy Dear, with guitarist Dean Schlabowske (aka Deano) serving as the group's token Yankee.

While Langford originally founded the group strictly as a live act to play locally in Chicago, Waco Brothers soon won a passionate following for their energetic and beer-soaked club gigs, and after Langford struck up a friendship with Bloodshot Records co-founder Rob Miller, the band recorded its debut album for the label, 1995's To the Last Dead Cowboy. A second album followed in 1997, Cowboy in Flames, and soon became one of the label's biggest sellers; since then, Waco Brothers have released a steady stream of albums (Freedom and Weep [2005], Waco Express: Live & Kickin' at Schuba's Tavern [2008], The Great Chicago Fire, a collaboration with Paul Burch [2012]) and toured periodically, though folks wanting to see them on-stage are still best advised to visit Chicago. Several members of the Waco Brothers are frequent participants in another of Langford's many projects, the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, while Schlabowske also performs with his own group, Dollar Store. ~ Jason Ankeny & Mark Deming, Rovi
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