Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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CQ Roundup With Joel Brogon, Chris Housman, Holly Cinnamon, and More

By Christopher Treacy & Dale Henry Geist

If we can’t laugh, we’re in big trouble. ‘Nuff said.


Holly Cinnamon – “Small Town Queer”

Holly Cinnamon comes to us from the land of Joni Mitchell – the prairies of rural Alberta, Canada – and is pursuing dual careers in music and acting. Those two realms come together quite well in the below clip for their new single. “Small Town Queer,” which frames the challenges of how we define our inner concept of home as queer folks. It ‘aint easy, but Cinnamon’s sense of humor prevails, throwing a lighthearted spin on something that can be so terribly consuming. It’s a message of hope about ‘hanging in there’ and finding your tribe, biding your time and keeping your eye on the prize while acknowledging the need for change. The song is released on Cinnamon’s own label, The Female Gayze, and they’re currently in the process of raising money (contribute here) toward recording a debut album in Boston.

They wrote in to let us know that the song is about, “…the paradox of living in a place where you might not belong, though you are from there and it’s always been home. We are so politically divided right now by this concept of a binary system where there are rural/right-wing/Midwest areas versus urban/left-wing/coastal areas, and that’s just too simple a concept to be realistic. I think the path towards our healing is to bridge that gap, and the visibility of rural queer people is one little step towards that.”


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

Phill Hermans – “Truck Stuff”

“Truck Stuff” is hilarious, but it has a biting, socio-critical undercurrent about toxic masculinity. Hermans’ forthcoming album Whistlestop arrives May 8, and he tells us, “The album deals with the ironies and hypocrisies of American in the 21st century. I grew up in Texas, and while I loved the sounds of country music, I also had friction with the the culture that surrounds it. These songs are an attempt to celebrate the things I like while criticizing and mocking the parts I don’t.”

Enjoy thinking about doing some ‘truck stuff.’

Robin Shakedown – “Shadows and Sun”

Aaron Lee Tasjan plays rhythm guitar on this awesomely punchy southern rocker from the band Robin Shakedown, a Georgia-based quartet with a trans-activism focus that’s been churning out heartland anthems like this one for the last few years. “Shadows and Sun” revels in the contrasting darkness and light that runs through these terrifying times – the forces of oppression dogging our most basic freedoms and the unstoppable spirit we reflect back at them. As lead singer Robin Vincent exclaims in the refrain, “We’re never goin’ dark!”

Vincent wrote in to explain, “In the wake of the string of anti-trans bills laws unleashed nationwide this year, I heard a lot of bickering back and forth between, frankly, people without a dog in the fight… about trivialities that don’t really matter that much to us. In my home state, Georgia, SB140 was rushed through legislature without any meaningful input from those who would be affected – trans kids in Georgia – and all of a sudden, it became illegal to provide gender-affirming care to trans kids here. I’m a Georgia-native trans woman with a rock band consisting primarily of trans musicians, and I got angry, restless, and hopeless. So I channeled my feelings about it into an anthem that could in hopes that it would reach the ears of trans people, children or otherwise, beginning to give up hope.” The passing of this legislation is going to lead to trans blood being spilled, and it’s my sincerest hope that writing and releasing music like this will stave off the hopelessness long enough for us to continue our fight against tyranny and make a better future for our children.”

Chris Housman – “Drag Queen”

Housman’s back with another infectious and witty single, one that got him some attention as he chose to demo it publicly on social media, leading to some podcast appearances and greater anticipation of the song’s release. Given the current ‘war on drag,’ the song is an important reminder that drag is both self expression and artful entertainment (that almost all of us have been touched by in one way or another), but it’s also a way that many of us get in touch with the spectrum of gender identity within ourselves. That fluidity fosters greater understanding… something we need more of, not less.

Joel Brogon – “Manicured Gentrified Lawn”

The grass is always greener… in every sense.

Joel Brogon gets right to the heart of the matter – we’re disrupting the natural order. A sense of timelessness permeates everything he releases, in this case underscored by the fact that we’re still trying to tailor our natural surroundings to our whims, some 53 years after “Big Yellow Taxi.” Brogon eschews the urge to story-tell about it in favor of just laying it out: we’re fucking things up. Please stop.

“Manicured Gentrified Lawn” was written in response to sensitive areas here in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas (my home) either being over developed or experiencing gentrification,” he explained in an email. “It has been frustrating to watch as native plants are ripped out and replaced with non-native trees, shrubs, and plants which displaces wildlife, not to mention the human toll that gentrification causes. Of course, this is a problem happening everywhere, not just my own backyard. I am releasing this song during Spring and especially for Earth Day as a reminder that our actions have direct consequences and we should be mindful of our ecosystem even when it comes to a bit of landscaping. Just setting aside a small portion of your yard to grow wild and limiting your use of chemicals makes a huge difference.”

Olive Klug – “Casting Spells”

In the run up to releasing their full length album Don’t You Dare Make Me Jaded, out August 11 on Nettwerk, Olive Klug delivers this tender loving tune as a tribute to childlike wonder. Developed from a TikTok songwriting prompt, Klug uses memories of valuable childhood lessons that they’re taken with them into adulthood as a means of self comfort. The accompanying video clip, so charmingly animated by Melissa Ladybug, takes these ideas and runs with them. In the end, Klug refuses to let the drama of adulthood ruin it all. The album title is taken from the pinnacle statement in the song, giving listeners a much needed reminder that our beliefs remain our own and they shape how we perceive what life throws at us. Who says it always has to be practical?

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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