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The Waco Brothers play Schubas for two nights



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Those following the Chicago music scene during the past 20 years have likely crossed paths with Jon Langford. The Welsh transplant has been a welcome staple of local music since moving here in the early ’90s. Though possessing the brash energy of a newcomer, Langford has achieved respected status as an elder arts statesman through his presence at Bloodshot Records and WXRT, his visual art and his prolific output with various bands.

Langford gained attention in late-’70s England with Gang of Four contemporaries the Mekons. The group’s caustic punk rock eventually evolved to incorporate country instrumentation and folk storytelling. With line-up changes, the Mekons followed Langford to Chicago.

Once here, the Waco Brothers were a logical next step. The new band allowed Langford and his collaborators to focus on love for roots music, while their established groups adhered to more commercially established sounds. Bandmates include bassist Alan Doughty of Jesus Jones, drummer Joe Camarillo of NRBQ, vocalist Tracey Dear and Wreck guitarist Dean Schlabowske. The Waco Brothers became beloved for high-spirited live performances while helping to establish the alt-country genre.

The band has released seven studio albums in addition to collaborative efforts like 2004’s “Nine Slices of My Midlife Crisis” with Uncle Dave and 2012’s “Great Chicago Fire” with Paul Burch. The Waco Brothers scored roadhouse credibility with 2005’s sublimely entitled “Freedom and Weep,” including left-leaning political howls and staple subject material like “Drinkin’ and Cheatin’ and Death.”

The group is best represented by 2008’s whisky-soaked “The Waco Brothers Live and Kickin’ at Shubas Tavern.” The concert’s energy lights fires beneath hard-luck honky-tonk ravers like “Red Brick Wall” and “Cowboy in Flames,” which were raucous to begin with. The Waco Brothers return this week to their spiritual home for their 11th annual Waco Weekend.

Schubas’ website asserts “subtlety is for the weak” and promises “optimum mayhem.” Act quickly for your opportunity to get beat over the head with a rowdy night of music by one of Chicago’s premier live acts.

♦ The Waco Brothers, 9 p.m. Dec. 27-28, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport. $14 (ages 21+over); SPOTIFY playlist:

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