As expected, Nashville had nothing to say about Brittany Aldean's transphobic comments, though Jason Aldean was just dropped by his publicist. They said it was because they focused on musical artists, and I guess when your wife makes transphobic t-shirts off the back of a public social media "discussion," you are a shlock merchant and not a musician.
I've got more thoughts about this but I want to make sure you have enough brain space for our spotlight on Ever More Nest! Queer Americana singer-songwriter Kelcy Wilburn wrote about the difficulties and joys of the small but fierce Americana scene in the Crescent City.
Also, did you remember to listen to non-binary rocker Syvlia Rose Novak on the Rainbow Rodeo podcast? We dig into gender, genre, and Jimmy Eat World.
Finally, I just set up separate social media pages for Rainbow Rodeo! Find me on Twitter and Instagram under @rainbowrodeomag
New Orleans is probably not the first city that comes to mind when you think about country music or Americana. The city has a rich musical history in just about every other genre! But there is a rich folk and singer-songwriter scene in the Big Easy and Ever More Nest's Kelcy Wilburn wouldn't have it any other way.
Kelcy formerly performed under the name Kelcy Mae. I was so excited to see her perform during Jazz Fest in 2016 that I accidentally showed up to her performance at Euclid Records a full day early. It's really exciting to see her path merge with many of the New York-based queer country artists I hobnob with at this year's Queer Roots Showcase at Americanafest.
My North Louisiana roots—extending from a family tree of westward-migrating English and Scottish/Irish farming homesteaders—planted me within regular earshot of traditional gospel music, country blues and city blues, and the country music of my grandparents’ and parents’ generations. New Orleans is just a few hours south of my hometown of Shreveport, but it often feels worlds away. As a queer teenager, I welcomed a move to a place that felt worlds away—a place where open-mindedness and acceptance would make life easier, more expansive, and more fun. At the time, country music was far from my turn-of-the-21 st -century, alt- and indie-rock-loving mind, but 20 years later, I find myself writing and performing country music (alt-country, if you will) in the birthplace of jazz.
From a performance standpoint, making country music in New Orleans is probably a lot like making jazz in Nashville. You have to work a little harder to find your musicians, audience, and the right venues. The city’s tourist-driven music scene churns out bar bands that play cover songs, trad jazz, or funk night after night. Emerging artists and songwriters in other genres often find they can’t sufficiently grow their careers while staying put. It becomes a city of part-timers or what music critics call “New Orleans-adjacent” artists. It’s the most incredible place in the world, but it’s a difficult place to live (especially in summer), and geographically, it’s difficult to tour from. You simply have to move about.
From a writing standpoint, making country music in New Orleans is hardly difficult. While the descriptor “the city that care forgot” relays a care-free escape, it simultaneously conveys a city in pain. Heartbreak, brokenness, strife and alcohol are ubiquitous. Also ubiquitous, though, are revelry, vibrancy, nature, and art. You don’t have to look far for inspiration in a city dripping with character and history. You’ll find blooming jasmine and sweet olive in my songs, but you’ll also find desperation: flooded streets, empty wallets and empty hearts. New Orleans is the best of times and the worst of times, someone once told me. In many ways, so is country music. In that way, it works.
Read more about country music in New Orleans at the Rainbow Rodeo Patreon
Here are all of the queer country album releases this month! Let me know if I should add something to the list!
Updated every two weeks!