Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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CQ Roundup with Hanne Kah, Zach Day, Desert Mambas and More!

By Christopher Treacy

Photo Credit: Deryne Photography  

You may have noticed – the CQ Roundup has been publishing every two weeks rather than every week. I won’t bore you with all the reasons for this, but suffice to say, we are on a limited production schedule while we look for a parent publication or sponsor to pick us up. If you’ve got any ideas about that, we’d love to hear ’em! 3.5 years of blood and guts have gone toward building CQ into a destination spot for our readers, featuring an ever-evolving, expanding list of artists. There’s more than enough creative activity within this musical sphere to constitute daily stories. Unfortunately, we cannot afford to maintain that level of production without a shift in the structure. But we will persist in producing the CQ Roundup because it’s essential, and because we love doing it. Got a relevant idea? Email me:


Zach Day – “Washington”

We all have regrets. Artists sometimes use their craft(s) as a means for processing them and, ideally, moving on. The new single from Kentucky-to-Nashville transplant Zach Day is a doozy, framing a complicated friendship with romantic overtones that may have been a missed opportunity. Was he ‘the one that got away’? We’ll never know for sure, but Day gives voice to the blurred lines between friendship and romance – an interpersonal grey area that torments queer folks more than the rest. Using his dexterous pipes, he creates a series of snapshots in this penetrating power ballad that tell us just enough of the story to illustrate the tension and make us want to know more. You’ll keep going back to soak up more of the details.

Hanne Kah – “Trick Me”

Using a folk-pop template with flourishes of Americana, the queer, female-fronted German band Hanne Kah take the ‘Fool Me Once…’ trope and apply it to what sounds like a failed romance. Set to a punchy, energetic track with gorgeous lead vocals and crisp harmonies, the inherent message of strength has many potential applications, however, for women, queer folks… anybody that’s ever felt marginalized for their identity. For some us, it takes many more times (than just twice) to learn how to protect ourselves from useless judgment, but “Trick Me” is a reminder (and a useful mantra) that it doesn’t have to be that way.


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

My Sister, My Brother – “Another Life”

The second single off the upcoming EP from duo Garrison Starr and Sean McConnell celebrates the bond the pair shares as creative partners and friends with this buoyant tune, giving life to the joy they experience in song. “Another Life” is high-spirited and infectious, a classic-sounding FM rocker with just the right amount of vintage ‘AM-gold.’ Even if they weren’t singing about it, it’s never been clearer that Starr and McConnell bring out the best in each other.

“’Another Life‘ was such a fun song to write,” Starr tells us. “It felt unexpected musically as it was coming out. Almost like the ghosts of our heroes were singing and playing through us.  Sean and I have joked a lot about how we may have been separated at birth, so we explored some of that idea in this song. It has a spontaneity and a playfulness about it that I love.”  

Desert Mambas – “Buzz Cut Blues”

Remember that first time you felt like your look really reflected your sexuality or true gender identity? A double-edged sword, for most of us this is a moment that is simultaneously freeing and frightening. Whether it happens in high school or in your mid-30s or later in life, we are outing ourselves as… ourselves! This short, (not so) little ode to embracing identity (and the ensuing fallout) comes to us from Desert Mambas, a.k.a. Foxx Bodies guitarist Bailey Moses. Posited in the accompanying materials as, “…a tender ode to dealing with the absurdity of transphobia in public, a triumphant response to the jeers and comments of the clueless and the ignorant, the ones who cannot see their incidental affirmations when they cannot properly put gender into a little box,” Moses tells us, “Haircuts can play such a crucial role in queer identity. ‘Buzz Cut Blues’ is an ode to that pivotal first queer haircut –– a moment that can be equal parts liberating and absolutely terrifying.

For the music video, I worked with my wonderful partner Penelope,” they continued. “We drove around Los Angeles and tried to capture stereotypically masculine imagery  –– cowboys, barber buzz cuts, lumberjack statues, etc. The song and video are supposed to play with the idea of masculinity and what it means to be a “man.” 

Blake Rave – “Love is Love”

Blake Rave has not stopped moving in months, having headed overseas to record a new album in London and continually playing gigs hither and yon to keep the lights on. “Love is Love” serves up a perfectly timed Pride anthem, a surprisingly synthy ode to the freedom to love who we choose and the joy of openly expressing it.

Sheva Elliot – “Lost & Found”

A soulful slice of Americana with a redemptive, gospel groove, “Lost & Found” is about surrender. Written during an excruciating time in her life, Elliot – a recovering addict herself – attempted to intervene on a loved one in the grips of addiction, eventually surrendering to the reality that you can only help those who want to be helped. “Lost & Found” is a love letter to being loved – not in the romantic sense,” she tells us. “It’s written to those who have carried me through choppy waters with deep friendship and mentoring. It’s for those who loved me until I learned to love myself.

Jim Andralis – “My Beautiful Enemy” (Stripped)

Jim Andralis is keeping mighty busy lately, recently recording a new album for future release while maintaining a steady stream of unplugged-style singles to keep our attention en route. Here, he offers up a pared down take on the title track from his 2020 album, My Beautiful Enemy. The earlier full-band version, recorded with The Syntonics, featured lush, harmonized vocals throughout, while the stripped version significantly ups the ache-factor with Andralis singing alone. By removing the exuberant choir, the lyrics resonate differently, giving the song an increased depth of feeling. The original was stunning in a very obvious way, while this version exudes a more elusive charm.

Keith Andrews – “This Time Around”

Everything has its proper place in a balanced life. Andrews offers a simple message for an unnecessarily complicated world.

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 lives in Waitsfield, VT.

Got a great new song? Submit it to CQ!