Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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CQ Roundup With Dawn Riding, River Westin, Jaimee Harris and More!

By Christopher Treacy

Photo Credit: Brandon Aguilar

Halloween just came and went, reminding us all about fear. What makes us tick? Many of us seem to flirt with fear. We enjoy it, repeatedly pushing ourselves off cliffs in our lives so we can find new heights of payoff. Some of us enjoy fear in smaller doses, when it’s contained and we’re pretty sure we know the ending. Managed fear. Fear with training wheels.

There’s a lot of fear wrapped up in falling in love. There’s the letting go and allowing ourselves to feel those feelings. The vulnerability. Then there’s the fear of losing ourselves in it: where do they end and we begin? Are we being ourselves in this relationship, or are we performing the whole thing? That’s followed by fear about the lengths we’ll go to in order to preserve it, to continue with it for fear (there it is again) of going back to being alone. Even if it’s not going all that well. Maybe even going badly. We forget the value of our freedom.

Somehow, those ideas relate to this week’s CQ Roundup choices… do with that what you may, but definitely enjoy the new tunes. Happy Halloween, belated.



A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

Song of the Week: Jaimee Harris – “Missing Someone”

This is a total bop. “I went off the deep end/this time it was a good swim,” Harris proclaims on the first single from her anticipated new album, Boomerang Town, which arrives in February via Thirty Tigers. “Missing Someone” is about her relationship with Mary Gauthier, but it certainly strikes a universal chord with it’s joyful yearning, bolstered by a mid-tempo groove that’ll keep you wanting more. Coming away from the song, we’re reminded of love’s early days when it’s clear that infatuation is giving way to something much larger—an exciting and often scary time when practicality takes a backseat. Harris finds herself consumed by emotion and neglecting other aspects of her life… sound familiar? It’s been a long time since we’ve heard a song tell that story with a such an affective, contagious vibe: “Missing Someone” might just silence our inner cynic… for a few minutes, anyway. And the video clip is chock full of charm and humor. Treat yourself, and keep an eye out for Gauthier in her Rubber Ducky shorts. Meanwhile, we’ve got a Q&A with Harris coming tomorrow!

Matt Foster – “True Needs”

Somehow I know/If I hold out long enough…/If I hold out long enough…/That right then,the right thing will be right there to do, and I’ll just do it.” The title track from Foster’s new album shows off a different aspect of their musical personality than “Billy,” which we included in a recent Roundup as well. “True Needs” moves along on a sinewy, earthy groove built from drums and acoustic guitar while Foster talks about waiting for right direction, which can be extremely challenging. We live in a world that urges us to act, but often we simply re-act, which is a different thing altogether.

“This song recalls the power of patience, of standing back, of keeping steady,” Foster says. “That trying too hard to find an answer is no answer, and forcing the result will surely result in it feeling forced.” They’re so, so right.

Melissa Carper – “Ramblin Soul”

We’ve been keeping tabs on this release, from our premiere of the first single and video back in September to the more recent Odetta cover, but somehow we missed this one in between the other two – the title track from Melissa’s forthcoming new disc, out 11/18 via Thirty Tigers. “Ramblin Soul” sums it all up for Carper—life on the road and in her mobile home, moving from gig to gig and living off grid. She wouldn’t have it any other way. During the pandemic, she and her partner moved to a friend’s farm near Austin and worked in exchange for housing, organic vegetables, and fresh, country air… and it provided a timely solution to the serious problem of a lack of touring income. But Carper is most at home when she’s moving around, and “Ramblin’ Soul” employs a delightful country-swing vibe reminiscent of Asleep at the Wheel’s best work to convey her restless energy. Kinda makes you want to hop in the truck and just GO.

Dawn Riding – “Hold On”

Haunting and drenched in reverb, “Hold On” conveys a sinister, outlaw vibe that’s also timeless—it sounds like it could’ve possibly been recorded in the 60s. The second single from the new Dawn Riding album, You’re Still Here, arriving 11/11, is another arresting vignette, full of compelling images that portray desperation and determination… and hindsight, which often brings wisdom. To her credit, songwriter Sarah Rose Janko captures all of the heat and intensity of emotions felt in the moment, even though she’s mining the past. “Hold On” puts us right there, in the driver’s seat… right as the wheels start to come off.

Mike Maimone & Phillip-Michael Scales – “Voodoo Lady”

Maimone and Scales light this amusing tale of woe with humor and musical personality, telling the same story from two different perspectives, producing a soul-blues romp that’s plenty rootsy. Fifty years ago, Stevie Wonder warned us: “…when you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer – superstition aint the way.” In the end, the boys whiskey-up and head over to have a few words with the home-wrecking Voodoo Lady, but we’re pretty sure no professional mediums were harmed in the making of this fun track.

River Westin – “Cinema”

More dream-pop and less country-inflected than some of his previous singles, “Cinema” is the lead track off the forthcoming new River Westin full length, The Honeymoon Suite, out 11/18. “Cinema” creates a series of scenes staged so perfectly, Westin believes they’re worthy of the movies… and he’s crooning about it. Oozing with romance and hope, but tempered with a melancholic vibe, the camera follows the pair from the bar to the bedroom and beyond. Does life imitate art? Well, we can always dream.

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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