Out of the swamps of Lafayette, Louisiana, come Deano & Jo, a musical and marital partnership playing a slightly skewed take on classic honky-tonk and bluegrass sounds.
Dean is a founding member, and one of two main songwriters in the Waco Brothers. The band's “Cash meets Clash” sound has become an alt-country touchstone over the course of 25+ years and 12 albums. Jo was the lead singer for Austin’s legendary Meat Purveyors. Her Texas born and bred vocal style and on-stage intensity were the perfect vessel for that band’s punkgrass tales of redneck debauchery and woe.
Their self-titled debut album, Deano & Jo, is a mix of Dean’s original songs and classic but lesser-known covers from bluegrass and honky-tonk greats. Dean’s original songs like “Never Going Back” and “My Evil Twin” touch on themes of blue-collar struggle and personal demons along with veiled political commentary like “A Promise Unfulfilled,” and character sketches such as “Murline.” The cover versions sprinkled in deal with the most vital vein of country subjects - lost love, cheating, drinking, and death. The album is old school enough to appeal to traditionalists but has enough edge to stomp a foot in the alt-country/Americana world. The songs range from sprightly and lighthearted to genuinely moving, while avoiding saccharine, singer-songwriter territory.
Deano & Jo was engineered at Staffland Studios by Chris Stafford, a real Swiss Army knife of a man whose skills are always in hot demand in the amazing community of legendary Cajun and Creole musicians of Acadiana where he’s based. In addition to being a recording engineer, Chris is a multi-instrumentalist and has his own band, Feufollet, and also plays the pedal steel guitar with Cedric Watson, one of the most highly regarded Creole performers in Louisiana. Another Lafayette musician making an appearance on lead guitar is Chas Justus, of the Grammy nominated Cajun/Creole/Swamp band the Revelers.
From the Austin music world, Jo enlisted Mark Rubin of the Bad Livers on upright bass. For Jo, this was quite a “get” as the Bad Livers were an enormous influence on her first band, Joan Of Arkansas, and later the Meat Purveyors. Also from Austin is dynamite fiddler Beth Chrisman, a veteran of honky-tonk legend James Hand’s band and the Carper Family, and one of the most in-demand musicians on the Austin scene. Joining the band for some flat-picking is Robbie Fulks, who should need no introduction, as the amazing songwriter and player that sprang out of the same Chicago scene as the Waco Brothers in the '90s.
A musical couple before becoming a romantic one, Dean & Jo both had to work through a series of ill-advised marriages and bad life decisions before finally getting together. They moved around a bit, with Dean initially moving to Austin for three years, followed by a stint in Dean’s hometown of Milwaukee, before finally settling in Lafayette in 2022. Drawn by the incredible music and food culture, plus the very low overhead, it didn’t take long before the couple befriended the local talent and launched the Deano & Jo project. The couple share a deep passion for the classic honky-tonk sounds of the '50s and '60s, especially George Jones, Ray Price, Loretta Lynn, and Buck Owens. Bluegrass giants such as the Stanley Brothers, Hazel Dickens, and Jimmy Martin also inform the sound. But, having cut their teeth among the weirdos and punks of Austin and Chicago, there is always a sonic element, energy level, and irreverence to the material that distinguishes them from mere old-time fetishists.