By Eryn Brothers, Staff Writer
Happy Bi Visibility Week, y’all! In honor of our fine bisexuals and pansexuals, we present to you, in no particular order, a list of some of our favorite bi and pan artists on the country/Americana/folk spectrum. (This is Part 1 of a 2-part series: check out Pt. 2 here.)
The darling of Nashville, Mercy Bell, is not to be slept on. Commended by notable critic Ann Powers, Mercy’s self titled release last year marries fine songwriting with savvy production, a true feat in an industry where production often takes precedence over substance. Bell can muscle her way with pop in “Skip to the Part,” and swing with “All Good Cowboys.” Here she is with last year’s “Chocolate Milk & Whiskey.”
Alynda Lee Segarra (Hurray for the Riff Raff)
Alynda Lee Segarra, a Bronx native and Puerto Rican, is a folk queen. Working under the name Hurray for the Riff Raff, Segarra has released genre-spanning work ranging from the concept/autobiographic album “The Navigator,” to Blaze Foley tributes. Segarra is one of the paramount voices reminding us that folk and traditional music isn’t just Applachian. Inspired by Latin music, punk, country, protest singers of yore, and Motown, Segarra’s work is truly a melting pot. Open about being queer and her queerness being informed by bisexuality and pansexuality, activism and protest are central themes in the inspection of America in her work.
Ashley Wright (Earleine)
Ashley Wright, mastermind behind Earleine, from Nashville via Durham, North Carolina, brings mystic intention to her folk stylings. From songs that harken to murder ballads, to introspective tunes that meditate on the human condition, Ashley Wright’s vulnerable writing against the showcasing of tactful, dreamy arrangements is a winner.
Adeem the Artist
Full disclosure: Adeem is on the staff of Country Queer. So maybe we’re a little biased. A seventh generation Carolinian, a diligent writer, and a dedicated musician, Adeem traverses the complexities of being a southern queer with a grace and wit that only someone with the guts of nicknaming themselves “The Tiger Prince of Knoxville” could do.
Bonnie is another artist who took the opportunity to come out in these pages. Lush country arrangements and sonic pageantry abound on the single “Last Will and Testament.” Stay tuned for Bonnie’s October 2nd record release. The New York coolness and Austin shine really come through on “Fuck With Sad Girls”.
Sam Armstrong-Zickefoose is a banjo-picking phenom. He’s studied everything from traditional American music to Balkan/Middle Eastern, to traditional Ugandan music. Sam has played with Meadow Mountain, Masontown, and Grace Clark Band, bringing his unique perspective and reverence of the range of traditional music to the table.
Michelle Brooke came out as bi in these very pages. Her pure voice can twist and bend with her carefully wrought songs. Brooke cannily dips from pop-folk/Americana to gospel stylings very quickly. There’s the gusto of a 90’s country diva ballad in “Storm,” a tempestuous and triumphant listen. (Also, the music video is very outwardly bisexual, hurray!)
Willi Carlisle is a traditional musician by way of the open road. His melding of modern ideologies combined with the showmanship and wit of folksingers of yore make for one hell of a performer. He currently is in the stages of gearing up to record a newer “more bisexual,” album.
While Hannah Bowers tends to run on the DIY/indie circuit, their track “Know Ourselves,” is a very beautiful Americana-esque number that talks about the reality of endings, and how they usually begin with ourselves.
Connecting proletariat sensibilities, Western stylings, and southern grit, Rowan Simmons weaves the sometimes absurdity of being a queer Southerner with caustic observations of the world. Their recent release of “Kentucky Coal” grinds against established norms from slurry guitar, raw vocals, and murder ballads.
Maiah Wynne’s sweet, clear voice are more than enough to draw you in, but this award-winning multi-instrumentalist is so much more than that. Touting collaborations with many industry Big Names, Wynne is fearless in exploring the dichotomies of life.
Ry Warner (they/them) has the vibe of a punk ranch hand that sings like Gene Vincent. There’s this swagger of 70’s glitter and a spoonful of pedal steel. It gives Warner a unique edge – they really do hear all of the parts of different genres and how they can work together with their lyrics. Ry Warner may present the “patina of a regular ass cowboy,” but their belt holds many notches, their coat is of many colors, and they know how to use them.
Jobi Riccio is an up and comer, and it’s honestly a shame that more people aren’t in the know about her. Riccio is a savvy songwriter and proud bisexual with such a talent for the construct and design of her craft. Inspired by Buck Owens to Joni Mitchell, her roughly sweet voice commingles with her impressively swinging rhythm guitar. Right now, you can catch her EP “Strawberry Wine.” I’m personally excited to see what this artist does in the future, and to introduce her to y’all.
M. Butterfly knows what he is. Named after the sad-ass opera (it’s the saddest, y’all) M. Butterfly bars no holds in the honest and blatant ownership of sad-kid UK Americana. From swirling electronic bites to lush pedal steel, Brighton’s own allows you to wear your Low shirt to the honky-tonk, because sometimes a cowboy has got to cry.