tom and sally

“The Mekons are the most revolutionary group in the history of Rock and Roll” – Lester Bangs

Amen Lester, RIP. This is the 6th year Mekons have come to play the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in some form or other. Happily most years also include a bonus Friday night show at the awesome Swedish American Hall. No booze, but it’s right on top of the Cafe du Nord where you can score some yummy food to take upstairs. The Mekons formed in Leeds in 1977 and have spawned countless side projects. Many have played the HSB fest: Pine Valley Cosmonauts, Skull Orchard. Others, like the Waco Brothers, tend to show up at South By Southwest each and every year. There are dozens of amazing records to collect and a documentary, Revenge of the Mekons, to be released later this year.

rico, tom and jon

For the latest release, Ancient and Modern 1911-2011, recorded in Tom Greenhalgh’s tiny village in Devon, the band revisits the Edwardian era, relates it to today and discovers how little we have learned this century. The record starts off with a Tom song, and I would argue that Tom also sings the album’s best song “I Fall Asleep”. It was a real treat to have Tom right here in SF this year. He stole the show. The band played lots of new stuff, but certainly brought the classics including hopping good versions of “Hole in the Ground” and “Hard to be Human”.


As fast as I drove from Golden Gate park, the traffic got me to the Swedish just as SF’s Barbary Ghosts were finishing their last song. Too bad. They sounded great. Sea shanties? Yes! A perfect opener for Mekons. I like the YouTube offerings and look forward to checking them out soon. It seems like Heinhold’s First and Last Chance would be the perfect venue.