When I messaged Patrick Haggerty on Facebook to ask if he had an opening slot for his March 13 Lavender Country show at The Pinhook, he wrote back saying the slots had been filled, but asked me, “Do you play anything?” I said I play guitar and sing, and he replied, “We may have a spot for you in the band.” This is how I, a semi-known queer songwriter, was welcomed into Lavender Country, the first openly gay country band.
This found family, ever-changing in lineup and size and always led by Haggerty, spent almost half a century in frustrating isolation after releasing its 1973 self-titled debut album, which mixes airy production and dusty Carter Family–style arrangements with queer politics that still blister and bluster to this day—as they should.
Pittsboro label Paradise of Bachelors were eventually clued into the album, long out of print, and prepared it for a wonderful remastered reissue, making it so generations of angry, big-hearted queers could holler along to now classics “I Can’t Shake the Stranger Out of You,” “Come Out Singing,” and “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears.”
I recently spoke with Haggerty about where he fits in the spectrum of queer music, now and then, and picked his brain about Lavender Country’s upcoming follow-up album, Blackberry Rose and Other Songs and Sorrows from Lavender Country.
INDY: I wanted to get your long view of your history as a gay musician.
PATRICK HAGGERTY: Well, let me start from the beginning. When we made Lavender Country in 1973, there were a few gay and out musicians among us. One of them was named Blackberry. I did my first show with him in 1975, and we’ve been co-travelers down this road of gay music for a lifetime. It was very different for lesbians because they had the women’s movement to back them up. But for gay men who were making music in the early seventies, it was an exceedingly lonely road for decades. Well, let me get political about it.
Go for it.