Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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Q&A with Mariel Buckley

By Christopher Treacy & Mariel Buckley

Photo Credit Heather Saitz

When we last spoke with Mariel Buckley, she’d just released the first single off of her album ‘Everywhere I Used to Be’ and was gearing up to head out on the road to promote it. The single in question, “Shooting at the Moon” touches on the rigors of road life and the duality between being ‘queen on the one-star loop’ and missing loved ones. Since then, she’s been back to Europe—Scandinavia specificallyand we thought it’d be a good time, as the Calgary-based Buckley readies for another string of US dates (a solo run supporting Matt Anderson kicking off tomorrow, itinerary below) to ask her about the differences in touring here and there. ‘Everywhere I Used to Beis out now on Birthday Cake Records.

Are audiences distinctly different when you perform in the states versus in Canada or overseas? Obviously every crowd is going to be a little different, but European audiences are known for being more respectful. What has your experience been?

I definitely would agree that EU audiences have a pretty great handle on how to attend and enjoy live music. I was shocked at the level of gravitas they give to singer-songwriters and our work, it was really gratifying honestly. Of course, I’m from Canada and I’ve had many great shows there, but I do think it can be a really different vibe in North America altogether. 

Touring is rough. At least, it’s rough on the body, but there’s also an exhilaration angle on it that I imagine is a little addictive. That said, is it more exciting to tour in unfamiliar places?


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

I love touring, especially to new places. Certainly the adrenaline and movement is what keeps it fresh for me, but it’s always a double-edged sword. As soon as you’ve settled from one run, you’re itching to plan the next one. Once you’re about two weeks on the road, you really start missing home, least I do anyway. I think it’s different for everybody, but I’m learning to embrace the duality of the life. I really love my job. I didn’t have cash to travel after finishing school and touring is a great vessel to take me all over the place.

You’ve played in the UK and Germany before. What made a Scandinavian leg right this time around? It does seem like they’ve got a country scene going there. How did those shows feel to you?

The first time I went to the UK/EU, The Bros. Landreth took me as their support, which was huge for me to break in. I played 20 shows in 24 days. The Swedish tour was planned pre-covid by some folks I’d met a few years back. Scandinavia has a really enthusiastic Americana/roots crowd, which was great to be a part of.

I’ve heard many an American artist say that when they’ve gone to perform in EU, they experience a different kind of treatment. Maybe a car gets sent to get them for the gig. Food and drinks are more readily provided. Accommodations are better. Tell us about your experiences as they relate to this idea. I know Scandinavian governments offer grants for artists to make records and it seems, in general, like careers in the arts are supported with more respect and… general gravitas. Here in the US, there’s still that ridiculous “get a real job” sentiment.

Yeah – I do think there’s some big differences for sure. I wanna stress that in Canada, we’re offered a pretty healthy range of government funding that most of us can access for things like recording and showcases. Touring is a bit trickier but they definitely have grants for that as well. Part of the reason we have stuff like thatI thinkis that we have such a smaller population to tour and engage with. In the states you can drive 20 minutes to a whole new metropolis and play for a whole new crowd. It’s like six to eight hours or more between most major Canadian cities, so the subsidies for touring and creation help us close the margins a bit.

I’d say the overall hospitality is comparable in North America, mostly. Obviously it depends on the room and the folks who run it, and in my life I’ve been pretty lucky to have been hosted by some amazing people all over. That being said, I’ve also experienced callous treatment a ton of times in clubs of all sizes. Sometimes it’s just a shit deal. You roll with it, I guess. I always think it’s funny when the staff treat you like a criminal.

Europe was pretty incredible, but still sometimes the odd deal will stink a bit. Mostly though, the hospitality is pretty impressive and outshines back home a little.

Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He’s the Managing Editor for CQ and lives in Waitsfield, VT.

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