I did Rainbow Rodeo bass ackwards. From a zine to a podcast to a newsletter, that's not usually how things go. But I might as well complete the reverse evolution -- from human to swamp thing -- by announcing the creation of Rainbow Rodeo: the website! It'll officially go live on Monday, but you can take a look now!
I am very grateful to Will Bennett, who designed the Adobe & Teardrops website, for graciously allowing me to copy the template and for showing me how.
The Rainbow Rodeo website comes at a unique juncture, with dozens of major media companies announcing massive layoffs.
Meanwhile, Twitter, which has done so much to create opportunities for so many people who never would have, is at last collapsing under its own weight. We need a way to find each other, so it's time to do it old-school and link up through websites and Discords (what used to be forums.)
I feel it's important to maintain an independent site dedicated to queer country music because we've always been here -- always -- and we deserve a venue to showcase our community no matter which way the analytics and clickrates blow.
On a more positive note, there's also simply too much queer country music than can reasonably be covered in a newsletter or zine! This week alone we've got a new album from the Bootstrap Boys (reviewed below by Steve Roberts), Mya Byrne (new podcast out today -- plus a review by Rebekah Bouche that will go on the site on Wednesday), Joy Oladokun (review by TJ Squire to be posted on Tuesday), and Jennifer Vena Wood (to be reviewed by me on Thursday.)
So this newsletter is changing. Starting next week, the newsletter will just be a brief link roundup of the content on the site. Check www.rainbowrodeomag.com on...
Tuesdays for the playlist (I will post YouTube clips and blurbs so for the sake of my sanity, I will probably only do 5 or so songs a week instead of 10. The music will be added to the playlists as well.)
Fridays for essays and the Rainbow Rodeo roundup
Daily for music, interviews, news, events, and more!
Monthly for the Rainbow Rodeo podcast (or, you know, subscribe on your favorite app!)
Thanks for your support of this little project -- it's because of you that we can keep making it bigger. Next up: crowdfunding for issue 3 of the zine in June!
Steve Roberts is a writer and poet living in East Dallas. He works as a mediator for a teacher's union in Texas. His most recent poems have been published in Voicemail Poems and Neurological Magazine. His most recent articles appear here and in Cul-de-sac of Blood.
After listening to the Bootstrap Boys’ newly-released record Hungry and Sober, it’s easy to envision a hard-working foursome of rough-edged players filling the dancefloor of that good old honky-tonk place you like to keep secret, ripping through their set with ease before packing up into an ancient motorhome and heading to the next of an endless supply of gigs. The good news is that image in your mind is one hundred percent right.
The better news is that Hungry and Sober has raised the bar for the band and may be their best work yet. The Boys (who all go by the last name Bootstrap to lend a little Ramones to it) were already a promising roots/Americana group when they first started releasing records in 2016. Years of constant touring has sharpened their chops – specifically the pen of lead songwriter and singer Jake Stilson. “Big Jake Bootstrap” has always had a way with words, but on this album he seems to have slapped the “no bullshit” button on the console; behind the infectious, danceable rootsy rock anthems there are several heartfelt, clearly personal songs about being tired, working-class, and queer. It’s Stilson’s vocals that are far and away the star of the show: his never-faltering tone shines as he bends and half-yodels the notes with just the right kind of ruggedness. And though the album touches on a few more emotional subjects (love, regrets, his father’s death), you can hear a warmth in his voice that never darkens.
The recording focuses on the vocals, which unfortunately means there never seems to be a moment for the backing trio to shine; everything’s clean and serviceable but even the solos are so practiced as to be by-the-numbers. But that’s picky to say when the overall product is so infectious. It would make you want to learn to two-step if you didn’t know how. The Boys are, before anything else, crowd pleasers. If you listen for it, you’ll hear the asides about the crushing weight of working life, and the wry reminiscing about being an “old f*g.” But if all you want is to clap and stomp and feel a little bit better about your night, these rocking Michigan cowboys won’t leave you hungry or sober when they’re done.
Rainbow Rodeo prides itself on paying queer country creators! Support our community and advertise here.
Here are all of the queer country album releases this month! Let me know if I should add something to the list!
4/7 — Tami Hart
4/15 — Autumn Sky Hall
4/26 — Joy Oladokun
4/28 — The Bootstrap Boys
4/28 — Jennifer Wood
4/28 — Mya Byrne
On the homoeroticism of cowboys (The Mary Sue)
I interviewed Mya Byrne about her new album, Rhinestone Tomboy, for the Nashville Scene!
Orville Peck defends drag on Drag Race
Eyelids' recent folk rock album benefits the the Transgender Law Center
AP figured out queer country exists!
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
Get to know Mya Byrne now, because she is going to become a household name. Her newest album, Rhinestone Tomboy, is out now on Kill Rock Stars Records. KRS is the legendary riot grrl record label, and Rhinestone Tomboy is the first record off its brand new Nashville imprint.
As I wrote in my profile in the Nashville Scene, that's not the only first for this project: the video for "It Don't Fade" features a kiss shared between Mya and her partner, songwriter Swan Real. When the video was broadcast on CMT, it made them the first known transfemme kiss on broadcast TV. When the pair repeated their performance at the Love Rising Concert in Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, they became what is almost certainly the first openly transfemme couple to do so.
Learn more about Brooklyn Transcore here.
Learn more about Nashville Transcore here.
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5/7 - 6/4 -- Eli Conley is doing a short West Coast tour
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
7/8 -- Margate, UK -- The Queer Cuntry Summer Fair will feature a whole slew of queer country performers!
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!
Missed a week? Thomas Inskeep is generously keeping an archive of all music featured on this Spotify playlist.
DEADLINE 5/20: Braver Angels Music is launching a songwriting contest to “inspire citizens to appreciate their differences and to look above social divides”
Todd Farrell Jr., lead singer of the Benchmarks and sideman for Sammy Kay Jr and Two Cow Garage, is fielding songs for a comp album to fight voter suppression in Tennessee. Apply here!
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!