The 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, the 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, the 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.
originally founded the group strictly as a live act to play locally in Chicago, the 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, the Waco Brothers
have released a steady stream of albums (Freedom and Weep , Waco Express: Live & Kickin' at Schuba's Tavern , The Great Chicago Fire, a collaboration with Paul Burch ) 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.