AS the United States' first black President was sworn in, a Newport-born man had a ringside seat to history being made.

Musician and artist Jon Langford, 51, a founder member of the punk band The Mekons, had played at a Washington DC ball to celebrate Barack Obama's inauguration the night before, and had a seat at the event being watched by millions of people around the world.

He has lived in Chicago for 15 years after marrying a local woman - describing it as his second home after Newport - and campaigned for Obama during the run-up to the US elections.

He said: “The whole event was kind of like a national exorcism, getting rid of the demons of the past regime.

“Bush’s helicopter flew over after and two million people looked up and waved goodbye.”

Mr Langford left wife Helen and children Tommy, 11 and Jimmy, six, on Sunday morning to travel with 11 other Chicago-based musicians to Washington DC.

After sitting on a bus for 14 hours, they performed at the Big Shoulders Ball at the Black Cat club on Monday night.

Mr Langford performed six hours of country-punk with his current band the Waco Brothers in a sell-out event celebrating Obama’s links with Chicago.

“The concert was incredible and an illustration of how things are changing. I performed with blues singer David Honeyboy Edwards, who’s 94. God knows what things were like when he was a kid,” said Mr Langford.

After mingling with people from all over the world at Tuesday’s inauguration, Mr Langford sat in an Irish bar.

He said: “The President’s lunch was on television and a senator stood up to give a toast. As he did, the whole of the pub got up with him and cheered. That said to me how Obama has connected with all of the country.”

Mr Langford door-knocked and campaigned for Obama during the elections in Chicago, the Obama family's home town.

He said: “A lot of people make a lot of the race issue. But he’s clever, a decent bloke, not a puppet of some dark right wing conspiracy and clearly just the best candidate.”

After recovering from two days of performing and partying that included a 28-hour round trip, Mr Langford plans to visit mother, Kit, who lives in Allt-yr-yn.

He will also play at the Laugharne Festival in April before recording with The Mekons in London.

“I’ve been sick of coming home and people saying ‘How can you live there?’.

Hopefully, now with Obama in office, the response will be different,” Mr Langford added.

Newport man was punk stalwart in 70s

Punk band The Mekons formed at the University of Leeds in 1977. Langford started as drummer, but later took up the guitar.

The band has released 17 albums between 1979 and 2007.

Mr Langford founded the Waco Brothers after moving to Chicago in the early 90s.

He is a respected visual artist and has created portraits of people like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.

In 1998, he released his first solo album, Skull Orchard - a look back at his hometown Newport.