Well, pals, I fucked up pretty badly. The e-mails didn't go out on time (not my fault!!! I hit send! I think!) and then I accidentally only reviewed half of the Creekbed Carter Hogan/Large Brush Collection split EP. All I can say is midterms are a pain and I'm so excited to be done with school very soon!
Fortunately, Creekbed Carter and Nora Predey graciously took a break from protesting at the Texas state legislature and touring (respectively) to tell us more about the project, and I'll publish a corrected interview below.
And, since I love it when artists write about artists, Rebecca Porter reveals her thoughts about Boys Club For Girls' new album self-titled album.
I know how it's hard out there, friends, but we can make it if we pull together, and I hope this music brings some healing and/or strength to you.
The EP, accurately titled split, is a tranquil meditation of life's little indignities and the equanimity you need to just get through. With understated grace, Nora Predey, Gabriela Torres, and Creekbed Carter Hogan illustrate the best of country music -- and the queer community's power to transform a direct mode of expression into something transcendent.
Large Brush Collection's sound is unlike anything I've heard. Beautiful, free-flowing folk combined with airy flute and jazz expressions make for ageless compositions. Predey's introspective lyrics make the songs feel like poems unfurling off a page. Predey and Torres's duet on "Great Capacity" is comforting and heart-wrenching all in one. This trio of songs was recorded in Predey's garden, allowing for a sense of open-ness and comfort shining through the disillusionment.
Hogan's contributions are B-sides from his upcoming album. Hogan begins with "directions," a haunting portrait of a town where there's not much to do -- and where nothing might change if you go. By contrast, "full time no benefits" is a Guthrie-esque protest against capitalist labor that offers an intimate and heart-warming solution. It's the only answer to every question.
"the anatomy of melancholy" is just as devastating when read on the page as when Hogan laments his physical and spiritual grievances. "pilgrim," the EP's closer, is just downright hair raising. Hogan re-imagines a traditional hymn as a song for liberation, imagining a heaven that will accept us when those on this earthly realm do not.
All three artists' hushed bedroom recordings are a reminder of the undeniable power of expressive songwriting and a guitar. Evoking the most traditional folk music, Predey, Torres, and Hogan light the way to a radical future. And that's what queer country is all about.
Creekbed Carter: Large Brush Collection and I are buds: we play gigs together around town and I admire the heck out of their work. Both of us also have full-length studio albums that are coming out in the next year, and whenever you’re making a record there are always a few songs that are really strong, but get cut for whatever reason. “Split” is essentially a split tape project (that you can buy literal tapes of!) that’s got Large Brush Collection’s songs on Side A and mine on Side B - but don’t worry, you can stream it digitally!
Nora Predey (of Large Brush Collection): I’ve always loved the concept of a split tape and what the form offers – where the music is distinct but kind of in communication with the other. It’s a physical artifact that you can hold in your hand but also super DIY. Given how long it takes to put out a whole record, I’d been talking with the folks in Large Brush Collection about putting out a short EP this year while we waited. That pretty quickly turned into wanting to join forces with Carter for this release. Since I first heard his songs, Carter’s music and performances just cut right into my heart. I was overjoyed when he told me he had a few B-sides that were looking for a home and would be down to collaborate on this project with us.
CC: For my part, my 4 contributions were opportunities to experiment. “Full Time No Benefits,” for example, was written by my girlfriend Asher Ford and composed in our kitchen; “Pilgrim” was a chance to reimagine a traditional as a song of trans resistance, and includes audio from a flash mob organized by Intransitive Arkansas that I attended in January to protest anti-trans legislation. I’ve got a rickety plastic electric chord organ on a bunch of the songs for texture, and I even play the banjo on one of these songs, which I never do. A bunch of friends messing around and making folk songs in their backyards and bedrooms means you really get to dig in deep and try stuff out in a way you might not in the studio, and I feel so lucky to have been able to pair up with Nora and Gaby on this.
NP: We were doing a lot of experimentation on our end too, and it just felt like a great opportunity to capture these performances without overthinking them! We stripped everything back and let the arrangements be as vulnerable as the songs contained within them, which is unusual for us as a band that typically performs as a four piece. Gab and I spent an evening arranging our songs to come across on only bass and flute, added some additional vocal harmonies, and then we recorded live the next day with Allie Lingren from As You Are. One of those songs, “Great Capacity”, was not even a week old at the time. The speed at which it all came together for both us and Carter feels essential to the whole experience.
CC: I’m not a musician who’s trans: I’m a trans musician. I make music for trans people, I make music born of trans legacy, and I make music that defies genre and easy, binary classification. I ask my audiences to go deep, to participate and feel and laugh and cry with me, and make a space - even just for an hour - where each one of us is an active participant in dreaming a new future, to paraphrase the words of artist Tourmaline. Country and folk are music of the people. It’s an honor I don’t take lightly that my music and identity work together to reclaim space and name histories that have always been there.
NP: My songs come from a place that’s really personal. They’re a way for me to process my feelings and what I’ve gone through, so my queer experience is deeply tied up in that. Even though the narratives in my lyrics and the musical landscapes that encircle them are so personal and descriptive to me, I sometimes wonder how much that comes across to audiences. That’s one of the reasons the stripped down arrangements on Split have felt so important to me – there’s a directness to it.
CC: Mya Byrne and Paisley Fields recently dropped a new single, “Burn This Statehouse Down,” and it’s a flippin’ BANGER. And shoutout to my boy Jude Brothers, who’s got some incredible releases on the docket in the next few weeks that I’ve secretly already listened to and am already obsessed with!
NP: This week our friends Pelvis Wrestley re-released their record Vortexas Vorever, and so I’ve been streaming that in my car all week as I’ve been running errands getting ready for tour. I also keep putting Richard Dawson’s song “Thicker Than Water” in like every playlist I’ve been making for the last three months; something about his Robert Wyatt-eseque lyrical delivery of this fragile post-apocalyptic story is really deeply comforting to me.
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A project recorded in parts over the span of three years, Amie Miriello and Vanessa Olivarez continue their rise as two phenomenal vocalists and songwriters in the duo’s self-titled, standout debut album Boys Club For Girls.
Boys Club For Girls kicks off with rhythmically driving vocals and snappy lyrics of “Tell Me I’m The Only One”, which is simultaneously entwined with dreamy oohs and pedal steel.
Throughout the album, the duo moves listeners from their signature Laurel Canyon vibes of tunes like “Not Just Yet” and “Bad Luck Baby”, which may be familiar from their previous releases in 2020 but rightfully get their flowers as part of this debut album, to tunes like “Romance Is Dead” and “The Weatherman” which lean further into the territory of alt-country/ rock. Two ballads that balance stellar harmonies with take-no-shit, foot stomping anthems. And, almost effortlessly, Miriello and Olivarez bring listeners close with the intimacy of songs “Closest” and “Anne Marie”.
Confronting mental health awareness head on, “5 O’Clock Shadow” depicts the cycle of alcohol use disorder through vulnerable honesty in its lyrics. The song also accompanies a series of personal accounts of alcohol use disorder and sobriety short videos (available to watch on the Boys Club For Girls’ YouTube).
Boys Club for Girls is a masterclass on vocally driven songwriting. Miriello and Olivarez are skilled vocalists individually and their strengths shine even brighter when their voices come together through carefully crafted lyrics and the distinct instrumentation of this album. Fans of artists from Allison Russell to Lucie Silvas, and Linda Ronstadt to Fleetwood Mac will greatly appreciate Boys Club For Girls’ fresh perspective.
A singer-songwriter born in Guam and raised in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Rebecca Porter balances her distinctive storytelling songs with the dynamics of her commanding voice in a unique display of soulful classic country. With the most recent completion of a successful crowdfunding campaign to support her next recording project, Porter continues to forge her way in country music and prove herself a force to be reckoned with.
Here are all of the queer country album releases this month! Let me know if I should add something to the list!
3/1 — Tina and Her Pony
3/10 — Brian Falduto
3/10 — Booze Radley
3/17 — Roger Harvey
3/24 — Boys Club For Girls
3/24 — Creekbed Carter Hogan
Ty Herndon has announced the lineup for his annual Concert For Love and Acceptance in Nashville
them. interviewed Caroline Rose about their new album The Art of Forgetting
Brandi Carlile is producing Brandy Clark's upcoming album
Somebody banned Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton's song "Rainbowland" so we're putting it on this week's playlist
Autumn Sky Hall/Otto is making a "queer as shit Americana" album. Help her!!!
What do you mean you don't want this $2 comic about butch cowgirls and gender rolemodels???
You can sign up to table at the Punk Island zine fair, or volunteer for the Brooklyn-based festival. There will be quite a few Americana and folk musicians there. I don’t think a date has been announced.
If you’re here, you like music zines. Longtime Wide Open Country contributor Addie Moore is taking pre-orders for their indie punk zine No Spectators
Did you know that artists at SXSW get paid in virtual pennies and still have to buy a festival pass if they want to see someone else’s show? That sucks! Demand fair pay for SXSW
You can get almost 50% off the book Queer Country using this code: F21UIP
This thread gives advice on self-managed transition in Alabama and other states that restrict our bodily autonomy
Queer songwriting circle https://www.eliconley.com/group-classes.html#circle
This month’s episode of Rainbow Rodeo features an interview with artist activist Zoe Boekbinder. We discuss their experiences with conflict, restorative justice, incarceration, and question the essence of queer country music and whether there even is one.
4/2 - Trans Singers and Testosterone: A Heart-Centered Online Gathering for Folks on T or Considering It with trans voice teachers Eli Conley and Orion Johnstone
4/15 & 16 — The High Water Festival in North Charleston, SC, will feature a number of queer artists like Rainbow Kitten Surprise, SG Goodman, Orville Peck, Ezra Furman, and the Black Opry. Who’s buying a ticket for me?
4/21 — There will be a virtual and in-person celebration of the life of Patrick Haggerty. The in-person gathering will be in Bremerton, WA. See the post for details about submitting notes, etc. to his family.
6/7 -- Ty Herndon's annual Concert For Love and Acceptance is at Nashville's Wildhorse Saloon
6/23 - 25: Melissa Carper, Alisa Amador, Maya deVitry, The Faux Paws, and Amy Martin are playing the Red Wing Roots Music Festival in Mount Solon, Virginia
All kinds of price points to advertise on the podcast, newsletter, or zine. (Deadline for the zine is 3/31!) Click here and help support the queer country community!
Updated every week!
Thanks to Elliott for making a parallel list on Apple Music!
Thanks to Heike Hausmann for making a parallel list on Tidal!
Apply to play a street stage at IBMA, the premiere bluegrass festival! (Stacy Chandler says that all roots music artists are encouraged to apply)
DEADLINE 5/19: The Amador Arts Council has put out a call for artists of all media to submit works with the theme WAY OUT WEST, celebrating LGBTQAI2S+ history throughout the western frontiers
We Are Moving the Needle is looking for women and non-binary audio engineers and music producers
Eli Conley is teaching Unlock the Song Inside: Beginning Songwriting Class for Queer & Trans Folks & Allies, and he also offers an online LGBTQ+ songwriter circle!
Are you on Mastodon or another part of the Fediverse? Get your music on RadioFreeFedi! https://radiofreefedi.net/
Submit your music and events to The Q LGBTQ Creative Network
This Twitter thread has a whole list of places to find jobs in the music industry
And here’s a list of resources for “women” entering the music industry — presumably they also encourage nonbinary participants
Submit your profile to the Country Everywhere which seeks to unite BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled artists and professionals
Sign up to the Black Opry Revue’s interest form!
Check out the weekly Queerfolk Fest show in Nashville
Twitter kind of sucks right now and can you really make friends on Instagram? Join us on the Rainbow Rodeo Discord! We've been talking sci fi, tour lineups, press contacts, allyship, gender, and more! Just respond to this e-mail to get the link!