Lavender Country
Lavender Country at Mississippi Studios in Portland, January 2020
Lavender Country at Mississippi Studios in Portland, January 2020
Background information
OriginSeattle, Washington, United States
GenresCountry, Americana
Years active
  • 1972–1976
  • 1999–2000
  • 2014–present
LabelsGay Community Social Services of Seattle, Paradise of Bachelors, Don Giovanni Records
Associated acts
Members
  • Patrick Haggerty
  • Melinda Cooper
  • Tami Allen
  • Claudette Boudreaux
  • Jack Moriarity
  • Bobby Innocente
  • Bobby Taylor
  • Robert Hammerstrom
Past members
  • Michael Carr
  • Eve Morris

Lavender Country is an American country music band formed in 1972, whose self-titled 1973 album is the first known gay-themed album in country music history.[1] Based in Seattle, Washington, the band originally consisted of lead singer and guitarist Patrick Haggerty, keyboardist Michael Carr, singer and fiddler Eve Morris and guitarist Robert Hammerstrom (the only heterosexual member)[citation needed]. Lavender Country has released two studio albums Lavender Country (1973) and Blackberry Rose (2022). The band has a wide number of members in various cities, with Haggerty being the only constant member.[2]

History

Early years

Haggerty was born on September 27, 1944[1] and raised on a dairy farm near Port Angeles, Washington. His father Charles Edward Haggerty (1901–1961), was a dairy farmer, while his mother Asylda Mary (née Remillard) (1915–1999), was a homemaker, who later became a teacher following the death of her husband. Haggerty was the sixth of ten children. He has stated that his parents, particularly his father, were very accepting of his sexuality and effeminate personality, with his father encouraging him to come out and to not “sneak”. Haggerty attended Port Angeles Senior High in Port Angeles, Washington, from 1958 to 1962, where he was “pep promoter”, which was similar to being head cheerleader. [3] After college he joined the Peace Corps, but was discharged in 1966 for being gay.[1] He later became an artist and an activist with the local chapter of the Gay Liberation Front after moving to Seattle to pursue graduate studies at the University of Washington. After coming out in 1969, Patrick became very involved with the gay rights movement, and became a socialist after „cutting cane“ in Cuba in the early-1970s. He has two kids, daughter Robin Boland (née Thetford) (a biological child with a lesbian friend Lois Thetford), and a son Amilcar Navarro (adopted and co-parented with his biological mother Linda Navarro); as well as one grandson Maxwell Boland II. Haggerty was close friends with blues musician Blackberri, activist Faygele Ben-Miriam, and gay film critic Paul Kagourtine. His son Amilcar is the grandson of jazz musician Fats Navarro.[1]

Self-titled album

Cover art of the Lavender Country album

Their eponymous 1973 album was funded and released by Gay Community Social Services of Seattle,[4] with funding and production assistance from activist Faygele Ben-Miriam.[5] Just 1,000 copies of the album were pressed at the time of its original release.[6] The band performed at the first Seattle Pride event in 1974,[7] and performed at numerous pride and other LGBT events throughout Washington, Oregon and California[2] until their dissolution in 1976.[1] Shan Ottey, a DJ for Seattle radio station KRAB, played the band’s song „Cryin‘ These Cocksucking Tears“ on the air in 1973, resulting in Ottey’s dismissal from the station.

Other Activities

Patrick Haggerty was also a member of the gay country music group, Doug Stevens & The Outband, from 2001 to 2003, and later released one album with the gay country music group Pearl River in 2003, Live at the Grange Hall. Along with blues musician Bobby Taylor, Haggerty formed the duo, The Landlord Tenant Act in the early-2000s, and released two albums, a Johnny Cash tribute album, and an album of original music, titled Further Down The Road. Haggerty and Taylor also perform under the name Memory Lane, where they perform at nursing homes and seniors centres, mainly playing classic country, folk and pop standard songs from the 1940s and 1950s, and play around 50 shows a year. They still perform as of 2017.[8]

Post-breakup activity

After disbanding Lavender Country in 1976, Haggerty ran two unsuccessful campaigns for political office, once for Seattle City Council and once as an independent candidate for a seat in the Washington House of Representatives,[8] and continued to work as a gay rights and anti-racism activist.

In 1987, Haggerty began dating Julius „J.B.“ Broughton, an African American retired Navy man. They married in the mid-2000s and have been together ever since, and according to Haggerty in a 2018 interview with Robert L. Conway of Conway’s Concast, they are still „madly and gayly in love“.[8]

Revival

Patrick Haggerty performing with Lavender Country in Sonoma, California in 2019

In 2000, the Journal of Country Music published an article on gay country musicians, focusing in large part on Haggerty and Lavender Country.[1] As a result of the renewed attention, the album was rereleased on CD in December 1999, and in 2000 the band released a five-song EP, Lavender Country Revisited, which featured three rerecordings of songs from the original album and two new songs.[9] The band reunited briefly in 2000, performing the album in its entirety at Seattle’s Broadway Performance Hall in January 2000,[10] and at that year’s Seattle Pride.[9] In addition, the album was archived at the Country Music Hall of Fame by former Journal of Country Music editor Chris Dickinson.[11]

Their song „Cryin‘ These Cocksucking Tears“ was included in the 2012 compilation album Strong Love: Songs of Gay Liberation 1972–1981.[12] The 1973 album was rereleased on independent label Paradise of Bachelors in 2014,[13] and the band have played several reunion shows in 2014 to support the reissue.[14]

Haggerty recorded a story for StoryCorps about coming out to his father in 1959, which was adapted into the animated short film The Saint of Dry Creek in 2015.[15] In 2016, director Dan Taberski directed a short film titled These C*cksucking Tears which starred Haggerty and told the story of his life and career.[16]

Patrick Haggerty performing live with Lavender Country in Sonoma, California, in 2019

In 2017 and again in 2019 Robert Dekkers‘ Post:Ballet company staged a modern ballet performance of Lavender Country, choreographed by Vanessa Thiessen and performed at the Z Space theater in San Francisco with Patrick Haggerty performing live with a new Lavender Country band featuring guitarists Dennis Fortin and Mark Newstetter, violinist Calvin K. Murasaki, Mya Byrne on bass, James Wilson on piano and Joyce Baker on drums.[17]

In 2019 the band released Blackberry Rose and Other Songs and Sorrows, their first full-length album of new material since 1973.[18][19]

In 2020, Haggerty was featured in a version of Trixie Mattel’s reprise of „I Can’t Shake the Stranger Out of You“, titled „Stranger“ on her album Barbara. In 2020, Pat also hosted a YouTube series called „Aunt Patty’s Lavender Hour“, where he interviewed several people who influenced him in his life and musical journey, the guests included his son, filmmaker Amilcar Navarro, visual artist Pat Moriarity and filmmaker Dan Taberski, among others.

In January 2022, it was announced that the band’s second album, Blackberry Rose would get a proper release on Don Giovanni Records on February 18, 2022. Ahead of the album, the band released a new recording of „I Can’t Shake the Stranger Out of You“ with a full band arrangement.[20]

Discography

  • 1973 – Lavender Country (Tracks: „Come Out Singin‘ “, „Gypsy John“, „Waltzing Will Trilogy“, „Georgie Pie“, „Cryin‘ These Cocksucking Tears“, „Back in the Closet Again“, „I Can’t Shake the Stranger Out of You“, „To a Woman“, „Straight White Patterns“, „Lavender Country“.)
  • 1999 – Lavender Country (reissue)
  • 2000 – Lavender Country Revisited (Tracks: „Come Out Singing“, „Gay Bar Blues“, „Clara Fraser vs. Seattle City Light“, „Lavender Country“, „I Can’t Shake the Stranger Out of You“.)
  • 2014 – Lavender Country (reissue)
  • 2019 – Blackberry Rose and Other Songs and Sorrows
  • 2022 — Blackberry Rose (reissue released by Don Giovanni Records).

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f Dickinson, Chris (2000). „Country Undetectable: Gay Artists in Country Music“. Journal of Country Music. XXI (1): 28–39. Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2009.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ a b „The First Openly Gay Country Singer....Was Patrick Haggerty, in 1973“. Queer Music Heritage, July 10, 2013.
  3. ^ „Country Music“ Archived 2013-07-14 at the Wayback Machine. glbtq.com, 2002.
  4. ^ „Never Heard of ‚Em: Lavender Country“. The Stranger, June 22, 2012.
  5. ^ Beers, Carole (June 7, 2000). „Faygele benMiriam crusaded for rights“. The Seattle Times.
  6. ^ „„These C*cksucking Tears“: The Story Behind The First Gay Country Album“. NewNowNext, October 14, 2016.
  7. ^ „More doors open to gays today“. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 24, 2004.
  8. ^ a b c „40 Years Later, Patrick Haggerty’s Gay Country Album Gets a Proper Release“. Seattle Weekly, March 18, 2014.
  9. ^ a b „Gay community resources, organizations and events“ Archived 2013-07-23 at archive.today. Kitsap Sun, June 25, 2000.
  10. ^ Patrick Haggerty at Stonewall Society.
  11. ^ Paulson, Don (16 January 2009). „Gay History: Lavender Country“. Seattle Gay News. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  12. ^ „Strong Love: Songs of Gay Liberation 1972–1981“. Gay News Network, May 8, 2012.
  13. ^ „Country music’s gay stars: ‚We’re still kicking down the closet door‘ “. The Guardian, April 10, 2014.
  14. ^ „Interviews: Lavender Country“. Pitchfork, April 8, 2014.
  15. ^ A Farmer’s Powerful Advice to His Gay Son in 1959: „Don’t Sneak.“. Slate, October 12, 2015.
  16. ^ „Gay Country Superstar Patrick Haggerty Is Still ‚Cryin‘ Those Cocksucking Tears‘ “. Vice, July 29, 2016.
  17. ^ Aimée Ts’ao, „‘Lavender Country’: Ballet inspired by first gay country album returns to SF“. The Mercury News, April 22, 2019.
  18. ^ Carey, Leigh Ann (June 18, 2019). „Patrick Haggerty, Country Music’s Gay Pioneer, Is Back With New Music After 47 Years“. Slate Magazine. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  19. ^ Sodomsky, Sam (2019−06−30). „Lavender Country, Gay Country Pioneer, Releases First New Album in 46 Years: Listen“. Pitchfork. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  20. ^ Lynch, Joe (January 11, 2022). „Queer Country Pioneers Lavender Country Saddle Up for First Album In Nearly 50 Years“. Billboard. Retrieved January 11, 2022.

External links