Drake Jensen - Fast Enough for Me (2013)
This is JD Doyle and that was a Canadian openly gay country artist named Drake Jensen, and I'm pleased that an interview with him starts out Queer Music Heritage for April. I've
not done a show totally on country music in several years, so it's long overdue. And in other segments this month I'll play a whole bunch of recent country music by GLBT artists, but let's get to that interview with Drake Jensen.
JD: Drake, welcome to Queer Music Heritage.
Drake Jensen: Well, thanks, JD, thanks for having me.
JD: I think I want to start this interview a little differently than usual, I just played the song "Fast Enough for Me," and could you quickly tell me about it.
DJ: Yeah, I had just come off probably one of the biggest shows I'd done last year, and I'd kind of retreated to a cabin in the woods here in Ontario, with two good friends of mine, Tia McGraff and Tommy Parham, and they are Americana artists from Canada here and they travel a lot in the U.S. and are very, very well-versed songwriters, and we just wanted to write something very uptempo and kind of related to how quick things happen today, and how it's sometimes nice to kind of revert back to that country laid-back feel. "Fast Enough for Me" happened probably within ten minutes, it was completely written.
JD: Wow, you kind of alluded to it, where did you grow up?
DJ: I grew up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, which is one of the most eastern parts of Canada, in a small coal-mining town, and anybody in the U.S. who might identify with West Virginia, a mining area, it was very much like that, very kind of laid back. I grew up very modestly. My grandfather was a coal miner and I grew up with my grandparents, so I lived very modestly, so I identified very much with that very laid back kind of lifestyle.
JD: Tell us about your earliest memories of music
DJ: I remember listening...we always had a record player on in the house, and I remember attaching myself to this John Denver greatest hits album, and a lot of my mom's K-Tel albums. My influences vary, it's not just country, so my fondest memories are listening to John Denver and Abba, and I was very influenced by a lot of different types of music. I was around four at that time, so I started very, very early identifying with music.
JD: How many recordings have you released?
DJ: My first one was in 2002, was released kind of locally, in Nova Scotia, and then we went on...I took a hiatus for a while and everybody knows in the music business it's incredibly expensive. I just didn't have the resources at the time to put myself forward like we are right now. And then came the time for me to record the album, which was "On My Way to Finding You," which was my debut album. And we went to Nashville to do that, and we released that last year, and that's done very well. It's charted in Europe and it actually just gained me a nomination here in Ontario for country male vocalist. And then we went on to the second album, which is the one we produced here in Ottawa. And then in between that we also had a release of a Christmas album, which actually did very well in itself. So altogether I'm on my third, really.
JD: In three years.
JD: Why did you call the new CD "OUTlaw"?
DJ: Because I identify with that. I think I'm kind of an anomaly in country music right. You know, a lot of people are questioning me on saying I'm the first one to come out. I'm really not, but I am the first one to come out and do it on this big of a scale. I mean, we've taken basically the whole world on. We've charted in Europe just last week. We've had the Headstarter single of the week on the Trax reporting system here in Canada. And this is momentous things that we're doing, and we're doing it as an independent company. We're not attached to a label. I very much identify with being, number one, out and being very proud of who I am. And the other thing is kind of going against the grain, because a lot of people think that I am a trailblazer in country music...there have been great people in country music who have come along...unfortunately they kind of got stamped on and pushed to the side.
I think we're at a very, very good time right now, it's an opportune time for me, and it's an opportune time for growth in the LGBT community in country music. And obviously what's happened with me right now is pure proof of that. So it's interesting, it's how I kind of came up with the title of the album, cause "OUTlaw" means I'm out and very, very proud, and the other thing is, I kind of feel like a little bit of a trailblazer. I feel like I'm creating a path, maybe that hopefully many others will follow behind me
JD: Then this is a good time for you to tell me about the video of "On My Way to Finding You," the song and the video.
DJ: The song was presented to me by my producer in Nashville, and you know, and I think a lot of people say, do you write all your own stuff...of course I don't. I'm not well versed enough right now in songwriting I think to completely write a whole album. I know what I'm really good at and I do what I'm good at. I'm good at being an artist and I interpret things not only on a musical level but also on a pictorial level, and everything for me is part of the art, whether it's video, it's pictures, it's music, whatever. So I found this song and I just really identified with that song. My husband grew up on a farm and it kind of talked about that and made me think about him.
So we recorded that song and then in Ottawa here there was kind of a grave situation where an Ottawa teen, not sixteen years old, who had been bullied, took his own life. And it had an incredible effect on me, cause it is my life story, and that's what I've been through, and I just really had a down time when he took his own life, and I needed to express myself somehow. So I actually got a hold of his parents and asked them permission to dedicate the video to him.
I came out with that video, and I've been highly criticized by the gay community for not...you know, it was only a hug, why didn't you kiss...I'm like, hell, people, this is country music, you need to do things in baby steps. Sometimes the gay community does not understand, it's not about always being in someone's face and pushing things on people. Sometimes you have to take the high road, and sit back for a minute and say, okay, it's never been done before, you need to do this slowly, and if you're going to do it and be accepted at all, by anybody, then you need to consider other people and how they feel. Of course the guy in the video is not a prop, he's not a hired actor, he's my husband of six years, and he's been included in a few of my videos now. So that video is monumental for us, and stands for something that I truly believe in.
Drake Jensen - On My Way to Finding You (2011)
JD: Do you get any pressure regarding the degree of so-called gayness in your music or videos...for example, I know you didn't write this song but the recording and video of the song "When It Hurts Like That" has a scene with a man meeting a woman.
DJ: Yes, and the reason why I've done that, I could have changed the lyrics, sure, I could have, but the reason why I didn't, I think some people forget, I think gay people get hung up on the gay thing and don't consider that there's transsexual people, there's drag queens in our community, there's bisexual people in our community, and if anybody wants to look at my Facebook page, there's been a lot of comments by bisexual people saying, thank you for including us, we kind of feel that we're on the outside. And the other thing too, JD, is I was married for nine years to a woman. So I kind of identify with that, of being coming from a woman and going to a man. I only did it once, cause I'm a gay man obviously and I had been in the closet. However there are people out there who prefer both. There's a lot of different people in this world, and I think we need to stop over-categorizing things. And the reason why I've done that is cause I want to be ultra-inclusive in my music, and I want to make sure that everybody has something to listen to. So that's probably one of the reasons why I included those lyrics and chose to keep them that way.
Drake Jensen - When It Hurts Like That (2013)
JD: Who do most people compare your voice and style to...artists hate that question.
DJ: No, I don't, do you know what, JD, I've been compared to Randy Travis, which is amazing, cause I loved Randy Travis. I've been compared to Jason Aldean...I like Jason Aldean a lot. I've been compared to a lot of things, however I think I have a very different voice. I have a very identifiable voice and when people hear me they know it's me. No, I don't take offense to that at all, and I love when people make comparisons cause that's how people identify with things.
JD: Back to the music itself, in your own songwriting process, is it, the words come first, the music comes first?
DJ: I think most times for me it's always about an idea. When I write something I usually have the lyric or the title or something. With "Fast Enough for Me" it was the title, and then the lyric kind of came and then the music kind of snapped in. But it's a very different process, cause with me I don't think I'm a good enough songwriter to go in and write all my own, and that's one thing about me. I know when to do the things I do well, and then allow other people to help me, so I co-write a lot. So when I go into a co-writing situation I tend to let the people that are more well-versed in something lead the way.
JD: Do you think country music as a community has been accepting of you, and has there been any backlash at all?
DJ: I usually don't address that question, and the reason why is cause again it doesn't really matter to me. What I will say is that I have been reviewed by Robert Oermann, of Music Row Magazine, and he's the ultimate authority in country music in Nashville. Robert Oermann called one of our productions "majestic," and he also called me "country to the core" when it came to my vocals.
JD: I agree with that.
DJ: Thank you, and I take that as a huge compliment coming from you by the way, and also from Robert. It was an amazing review to get. I was given the Discovery Award of the month when the CD came out. It was right at the top of his page in Music Row Magazine, with Kellie Pickler and Lady Antebellum, and it was a huge, huge, huge honor for me. It was probably the first time that a gay man has ever been included in such amazing company in country music. And that Robert Oermann review was one of the things that made me stand up and say, "you can do this." But as far as country music goes, Nashville was wonderful, Robert Oermann was great. I just got nominated for country male vocalist the Acadian Country Music Association of Ontario. We have the number one single, head starter single with the Trax reporting system here in Canada for the first time ever last week, which was a breakthrough for us. So I will say that country music has been nothing but supportive.
JD: Which song from the first CD would you say was the most successful?
DJ: "Wash Me Away," that's the one that Robert Oermann reviewed and called "majestic" and said my vocals had open-throated confidence. And it was an amazing review. And then not only that it went on to chart internationally. It was actually number sixteen on the top one hundred for the European Country Music Association. It got played right across the world. We had tremendous success with that song.
JD: Talk about the song itself for a moment.
DJ: It was written by Mark McGuire, of Shenandoah, whom I know pretty well, I've written with him, and Mark Narmore. And Mark Narmore has written for Reba McEntire and many greats, and they're amazing songwriters. It was just that really catchy, catchy hook that it had, "wash me away," which is how I feel most times, cause I really identify with water, cause I grew up around it, and I think just the fact of sitting on the beach and allowing something to come wash you away appealed to me. It just has a great positive energy to it, and that's one of the reasons I identified with it, probably more than anything on the album.
Drake Jensen - Wash Me Away (2011)
JD: I especially want to hear about the song "Checotah Oklahoma"
DJ: Yeah, "Checotah Oklahoma"...interesting story, I got a tweet from a fan on twitter. I looked down and I found out where this guy was from and it was Checotah, Oklahoma, and I thought that just rolled off the tongue the right away. So I remember writing it in my Blackberry, and we went into a writing session again with Tia McGrath and Tommy Parham...we had a great bottle of wine and she said, "what do you want to write about, Drake?" And I said, "Checotah, Oklahoma." And she said, "what about it?" and I said "let's google it and find out what's going on there." It's the steer roping capital of the U.S., and we come up with this line, "steers aren't the only thing he wrestles in Checotah, Oklahoma every day. And it just took a life of its own at that time. I wanted to write something that I identified with not only as my own coming out process, and how difficult it was in a small coal-mining town. But also, I've talked to a lot of people in the U.S., and of course I've filmed my videos in the U.S., and I've recorded in the U.S., and I identify with being North American, not just Canadian. And a lot of my brothers and sisters have told me about how difficult it was for them to come out, and how they lived this very, very...life in solitude, and they never told anybody about who they were, and I think "Checotah, Oklahoma" encapsulates that idea, and it's probably one of my favorite songs that I've ever recorded.
Drake Jensen - Checotah Oklahoma (2013)
JD: Describe how your music evolved between your debut album and the new one?
DJ: Oh, God, you know, we were talking about this the other night, my debut album, I was kind of like putting my foot in the water and testing. I think with my first album I got great album that I'm going to be able to live with for the rest of my life. However it was a big thing for me to bite off. I think in retrospect I probably would have done a couple of singles and then waited a while, and gone back and challenged it. There's a little bit of unsureness to the vocals on the first album. The new album has a very different progressive type of sound, and it's a lot more of my influences embedded in this album, you hear a lot more of who Drake Jensen is in the new album rather than the first one.
JD: Well, I think your voice if you would compare it to a good whiskey, your voice goes down good.
DJ: JD Doyle, that is such a huge compliment coming from you, thank you, that really humbles me.
JD: Have you done much touring, and have you done it with a band, what's that like?
DJ: I've done a lot of gigs and playing around and now it's growing. I really have to say that the U.S. community is really embracing me, and we're getting a lot of requests right now form Prides, and we're getting a lot of campground requests for the summer, so you're going to see me in the U.S. so I think we're going to do the West Coast. My dream, JD, and I don't know...this is my dream, my dream is to do the Round Up Saloon in Texas, yeah, in Dallas, that's where I want to be. And there's a lot of people asking to see me in Dallas and I think it's going to be a very surreal experience for me to go to Dallas and play, because you know, I would be nothing without the people that are supporting me right now and I have so many great fans in the U.S. and it humbles me greatly that these people have embraced me so well.
JD: I think I'd like to hear about the song "Scars," cause I understand it's about bullying.
DJ: Yeah, I think "Scars" was probably one of the greatest gifts I've gotten in music, as far as demos go. Don Graham is a songwriter, and he wrote this song with Rita DeSilva, and then he sent this to me, and he said, "Drake, knowing your story we wrote this and we're wondering if you'll record it." And it struck an amazing chord with me. "Scars" is my story, and a lot of people have asked what happened to me, and what happened to me in school was grave. I mean, I left school, I had a nervous breakdown when I was fifteen years old, and I left school in grade 8, because the bullying was that bad, and never went back. I furthered my education when I got in my twenties, when I was ready for it, but I had a very, very bad experience.
DJ: I remember recording the vocal for "Scars," and I'm not one of these one-take wonders, I do four or five takes of stuff and then I take the best of it. But I remember when we recorded "Scars," I was having to stop every three or four lines, cause I was breaking up, I was really emotional. It was embedded with my pain. That second verse is embedded with me. I'll be forever changed from that song. You know, I think this musical journey has been amazing but "Scars" and "Checotah, Oklahoma" truly stand out as not only stellar songs but also very big pieces of who I am as an artist.
Drake Jensen - Scars (2013)
And for this next song, well, Drake should not have been surprised I brought it up. It's one he recorded in 2001, under the name Robbie Myers, and it got some decent airplay in Canada.
JD: Is it possible, for me to get the song, and to include it on this show, "A Little Good News"?
DJ: Oh, my God, you want that? Oh, my God, JD, I sound so young on that track. I'll give it to you gladly, if you want it I can get it there.
JD: Well, remember you're on Queer Music Heritage, it's a history show.
DJ: Yup, absolutely, I'll give you whatever you want, sir.
Drake Jensen - A Little Good News (2001)
JD: There's a song called "I Found Me" on the first album which I understand has sort of a sequel on the second album, called "Be," and it might make sense to talk about those two together.
DJ: Yeah, I didn't intend to do that. I came back from Nashville, Tennessee, I went down to write, cause at that time in my life I really did find who I was and I knew that I had something to do in this world, and I had known that since I was very, very young that I was going to be something. I didn't quite know what, but "I Found Me" is all about the everyday normal thing, you know, that you forget your dream some time, and I re-found my dream because my husband helped me do that, and "I Found Me" was all about that journey that I took over a few years, cause I was very emotionally damaged when I met my husband, and it took a very long time to trust again, and to come to terms with myself and what happened to me when I was a kid. And when that happened it's almost like a door opened up, and that's when I started writing again. I wrote "I Found Me" to tell the world that it's possible, even after all these years, I'm 42 years old, after all these years you can still follow yourself, you can still reinvent yourself. Don't let anybody tell you you've gotten too old. And that's the message I wanted to put out there with that.
DJ: Now with the second album, "Be" came about because so many people were calling me out, saying you're never going to do this, no one's going to pay any attention to you because you're gay, and country music is an untouched place and you shouldn't go there, and I wrote, "ain't gonna live forever, heart in hand it's now or never, I'm going to be the man I'm meant to be." Because I really, really believe that the only person in this world that can ever validate you as a person, it's yourself. "Be" was the sequel to "I Found Me" because it was kind of me standing up to people saying, "okay, people, I'm here, I'm not going away. I've figured out who I am, look out, world." And that's truly how I feel.
Drake Jensen - I Found Me / Be (2011, 2013)
This is JD Doyle and you can find this artist online at www.drakejensen.ca. because, he's in Canda. I thank you for listening to my special show on country music, and this is just Part 1. On my website, at queermusicheritage.com you can hear a lot more. I wanted to close this segment with something fun, and if you've seen the video you know what I mean.
JD; How did the video with Willam, on "Stand by your man" come about?
DJ: I have a...well, I call him my surrogate son, actually, in San Francisco, a younger gay guy that I met, through Twitter, actually, and he's become a tremendously good friend of mine. Somebody tweeted me one day that "Chic Fil A" video that Willam and the girls did, Detox and Vicky did, and I love that video, and the guy said to me on Twitter, he said, "oh, here's something you might be interested in, Drake," and it was the Chic Fil A link and I said "oh my God, I've watched this like ten times, I love Willam." And Greg Wire, who I'm telling you about in San Francisco, had seen this, and he emailed me, and he said, "Dad, do you want to do a video with Willam?" I'm like, I'm kind of patting him on the head, yeah, yeah, I'd love to someday, yadda yadda, and within two hours he called me back and said, "Dad, I just talked to Willam, and he's good to go for it." And the interesting thing was that Willam had gotten married to his husband wearing a t-shirt that said "Stand By Your Man." So it was one of his favorite songs, so it was one of those things, JD, that sounds like destiny, was meant to happen. I had a blast of a time working with Willam. Willam is crazy but is a consummate professional. He's very, very good at what he does.
JD: Oh, I agree, when I saw him on (Rupaul's) Drag Race, I didn't like...well, maybe I didn't like the way they portrayed him, cause they edit to the hills, but now I've been watching him more lately, and I really respect what I see as a professional.
DJ: Yes, absolutely, and when you meet him in person...we met him in New York City first, and he came in, not in drag, and he's a very, very kind of almost quiet, he's not over the top, very nice guy. He showed up for the video, was incredibly professional. We recorded the vocals for that in L.A. It was a great experience and I'd do it again.
Drake Jensen & Willam Belli - Stand By Your Man (2012)
This is JD Doyle welcoming you, well, in the case of that song, queer country music, and that song is very queer. It's by my friend Freddy Freeman. His brand new CD is called "Just Bear With Me," and it's not really a country CD, but that song sure was. I thought it the perfect one to start off this segment, as my goal is to corral in a bunch of country songs by GLBT artists. In 2005 I did three shows in a row on QMH on The History of Gay Country Music, and covered things pretty thoroughly. So, I've done the history, but it's time to catch up on more recent music. And I could have just as easily started the segment with one by the Topp Twins. They are from New Zealand and this song is from their CD "Flower Girls & Cowgirls." It's called "Country Music."
Topp Twins - Country
Also in that set was another by the Topp Twins, the title track from their 2009 CD "Honky Tonk Angel," followed by Brenda Jean. Her song "I'm Better Off Without You" is from her 2011 album "Joe Pye Weed."
And, yes, this show will feature probably the most visible openly gay country singer around today. Her coming out in 2010 made news all over and was a mixed blessing. She has said her record sales dropped in half, but in addition to her being able to be herself, in many ways she's much more visible now, with a new book, a documentary and a new wife. She's our modern trailblazer in terms of LGBT country visibility. From her latest CD, "Lifted Off the Ground" are the songs "Object of Your Rejection" and "Notes to the Coroner." Here's Chely Wright.
Chely Wright - Object of Your Rejection / Notes to the Coroner (2010)
When I was putting this show together I posted on Facebook that I wanted more women artists for my potential playlist and over 35 people chimed in with suggestions. I think the way I phrased it was "pop quiz, name some openly lesbian country music singers Not named Chely." The biggest surprise was suggested by several people, and was one I had somehow never heard about. I guess I wasn't that aware of country much in the 60's when Wilma Burgess had most of her success. I've read that she was openly lesbian most of her career and shortly after she retired from recording in the early 80's she opened the first lesbian bar in Nashville, called the Hitching Post. She died in 2003. Here are two by her, starting with her biggest hit, from 1966, "Misty Blue."
Wilma Burgess - Misty Blue / When Will I Be Loved (1966, 1982)
"When Will I Be Loved." I've always loved that song, and I like many versions of it, back to the Everly Brothers original. Wilma Burgess included it on her last album, called "Could I Have This Dance," in 1982. And now it's time to get back to the guys, with a song from 2008 by Randal Walker that I could not resist. It's called "The Guy Just Drives Me Crazy."
Randal Walker - The
Guy Just Drives Me Crazy (2008)
Then in 2004 Roy Bean released an EP containing the song "Gone." You can't tell by the lyrics, but the video was marvelously and romantically gay. Up next, a song by...gasp...a straight artist, called "Cowboys Are My Weakness."
Chris Difford - Cowboys Are My Weakness (2004)
As I said, that was by a straight artist. Chris Difford is from the UK and is known as a songwriter and also as part of the band Squeeze. It's from his 2004 solo album "I Didn't Get Where I Am." And I think "Cowboys Are My Weakness" is a wonderful song and wonderfully sung. After I discovered it I wrote him to ask which one of the co-writers wrote the lyrics and to tell me about the song. I actually got a reply. And he said, "thanks for writing, glad you like the song. I wrote the lyrics, and originally it was for Dolly Parton to sing, but sadly that never happened. So I thought, why not, I will sing it instead. And I'm pleased that I did...I feel very comfortable with the implications of the songs message."
Okay, you know I really like the artist Matt Alber, but raise your hands, how many knew he has also sung country music. Here are two example, starting with a demo he did in 2003 called "What Took You So Long."
Matt Alber - What
Took You So Long (2003)
Another by Matt, called "No Son of Mine," and you'd have to do some scouting to track it down, so I'll help you. It's from a 2005 CD called "Committed to My Heart: The Music of Richard Link." So, it showcases the work of that composer and Matt does two songs. That one was from the musical "Watch Me Shine."
Beccy Cole - Waitress
That set started with Aussie artist Beccy Cole and "Waitress," from her 2012 CD "Songs & Pictures," and also from that year was Nancy Vogl and "Nashville," from a so-far unreleased album called "Every Gift Every Dream."
This is JD Doyle closing Part 2 of my country music special, and I'm doing it an artist I really liked, but he only released one CD, in 1999. I sure wish there had been others. He's David Alan Mors and I'm playing "Keep Your Blue Jeans On" and "Someone to Kiss."
David Alan Mors - Keep Your Blue Jeans On / Someone to Kiss (1999)
Jenni Dale Lord - That Song / Willie (2012)
This is JD Doyle welcoming you to Part 3 of my Country Music special. That artist is Jenni Dale Lord. She's out of Lubbock, Texas, and I think her new album is terrific. I had a lot of trouble picking which two songs from it to start this segment, but I finally picked "That Song" and "Willie." And coming up is another Texas gal, she just goes by her first name, Mallorie, and she's from San Antonio. I got to see her perform at Houston Pride a few years ago. This is her new single and it's not quite out yet, so I'm glad she sent it to me in time to include in this show. It's called "Imagine."
Mallorie - Imagine
That song, "Rattlesnake Rose" is about an Ontario bootlegger, and it's sung by Canadian artist Auto Jansz. In the middle was Karen & the Sorrows and "Plague on Your Houses."
I want to pause now to share some Houston gay history. In the 1980s there was a social club called The Mustangs, and six of the members formed the Mustang Band. They played the circuit of gay rodeos and bars around the Southwest, and did cover songs. They never recorded anything officially but as five of the six members died of AIDS, the surviving member sent me a tape of a live recording, so at least that would be preserved. And I'm honored to have it, and share two songs with you. Now, remember this was not a professional recording, but I think it's worth our time honoring the memories. Here's the Mustang Band doing "I Don't Want to Cry" and "Drivin' My Life Away."
Mustang Band - I Don't
Want to Cry / Drivin' My Life Away (80s)
And that was, I presume, a straight band, and they call themselves Town & Country. Their very gay-positive song was "Everybody Wants to Say I Do." And I'm going to go from Town & Country to Our Country, and that was the name of a 2009 gay musical. Singing the title track is Justin Utley.
Justin Utley - Our
Second in that set was a trio named Menage a Twang. One of them is lesbian so same-sex lyrics creep into some of their songs, like that one, called "Never Again." And then Josie Greenwell sang the title track from his 2009 CD "Life on the Radio." And if you seen photos of Josie, well, he's very easy on the eyes, and he's not shy about showing hot pics on his site. He's done quite a bit of modeling, and with his latest release has switched his style to dance music.
Here's an artist I recently learned about, as one of my listeners wrote me about her. Her name is Maryanne Mahoney and as far as I can tell, she had one LP and one 45, released in 1973. My listener friend wrote me that she was at the time an openly lesbian performer, and doing some research into our local gay publications found ads for her performing at lesbian clubs, in Houston in the mid-1980's. Her album was called "Collage," and the 45 had one track from it, and it was all poppy material. I can see why she did not include the flip side of the 45 on the LP, as it was totally different, and was very country, which gets it on this show. Here's Maryanne Mahoney and "The Wonderment of Me."
Maryanne Mahoney - The Wonderment of Me (1973)
This next artist is more alt-country than country, but hey, Kris Kristofferson is in her latest video, and the song is wonderful. She's Brandi Carlile and from her latest CD "Bear Creek," is the song "That Wasn't Me."
Brandi Carlile - That
Wasn't Me (2012)
Ah, love those lyrics, and that song is from the 2005 album called "Here," and on it Cheley Tackett included the song "Play the One I Like."
Do female impersonators sing country songs? Well, sure, I found one on a 2001 CD by Mark Alan Smith. Now, most of the album is cabaret material, but he took time to do a cover version of "Harper Valley PTA," and adding his own spot-on vocal impression of drag artist Donna Day, a long time Houston favorite, who died in 2003.
Mark Alan Smith &
Donna Day - Harper Valley PTA (2001)
Okay, second in that set, in 2007 Clay Callaway released a mostly cabaret album called "Darn It, Baby, That's Love," and he included his own version of "You Ain't Woman Enough to Take My Man."
This is JD Doyle, rounding out Part 3 of the show...there's one more...and my basic premise for choosing who to play was to not play those artists and songs that I covered on my 2005 series, The History of Gay Country Music, and instead focus on newer material. Well, here's one artist I just have to include from that other show. He's Sid Spencer and when he died in 1996 we lost a great talent. From his 2005 CD "Out 'N About Again" are "All I Can Handle" and "You Gotta Swim."
Sid Spencer - All I Can Handle / You Gotta Swim (1995)
I'm JD Doyle and starting off Part 4 is Betsy and "Hard to Believe." She's Garth Brook's half-sister and that CD was called "Rough Around the Edges," and was from 1994. I think it's pretty good, but I guess not enough folks agreed, as I think that was her only release.
I'm giving this next artist a triple play. I think he's just that good. I believe these tracks will be on an album he's working towards, sure hope so, as I just love his voice. Out of Evans, Georgia, is Josiah Carr and the songs "Alone With You," "Nothing Fancy," and "Drivin' Me Wild."
Josiah Carr - Alone
With You / Nothing Fancy / Drivin' Me Wild (2012)
I added one more that set, by Atlanta singer Ajay Chavez. From his 2012 album "Potholes on Tenth" was "Behind These Charades." Now, of course you know Part 1 of this show was all about Canadian artist Drake Jensen. After we recorded the interview I asked him if there were other openly gay country singers I should know about in Canada. And he pointed me directly to Partick Masse, who is on the opposite coast from Drake. Patrick is in Vancouver and now has two CDs under his belt. I'm going to play the title track of the new one, "Mend the Man," and then another from that same CD, "Don't Go Starting Something."
Patrick Masse - Mend
the Man / Don't Go Starting Something (2009)
After Patrick Masse you heard Maryland artist Michael West, and "Shine" from his new CD "A Fond Farewell." And here's an artist who should be a household name, but there are rumors as to exactly why she left the country supergroup Sugarland, which she helped found. One source said she wanted to stay home and write, and another that she was ousted due to her quote-unquote image. It is known that she filed a hefty lawsuit in 2008 against the remaining members, which was settled out of court, terms unknown. The same year she released a solo EP that contained the song "It's Not Goodbye." Here's Kristen Hall.
Kristen Hall - It's Not Goodbye (2008)
That song is more easily found on a compilation CD entitled "Music from the Aisle of Lesbos," which contains a whole U-hall full of talented folks. And, the country rock band Antigone Rising has a couple of reasons to celebrate this month. One of their members, Kristen, and her wife Sarah are featured on one of the two special covers of the April 3rd issue of Time Magazine, that show two women and two men kissing. The issues cover story is "Gay Marriage Already Won: The Supreme Court Hasn't Made Up Its Mind, But America Has." The band's brand new single is "That Was the Whiskey."
Antigone Rising - That Was the Whiskey (2013)
Up next is an interesting and true story, and a bit of history you probably did not know. It's about Mrs. Noonan, a military wife and company laundress for the American Seventh Cavalry, from around 1868 until her death in 1878. She had three husbands during this time, the second being James Nash, and the last was Corporal John Noonan. The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus has a song about her called "1878 - The Ballad of Mrs. Nash," and for this show I have another song. It's written and sung by Minnesota artist Bill Geezy, and he was inspired to write it by the Don't Ask Don't Tell controversy. He called his song "Trooper Noonan."
Bill Geezy - Trooper Noonan (2012)
By Bill Geezy, and that song I think can only be found on a compilation CD done by both gay and straight artists in Minnesota, in 2012. It's called "We Love To Be Free: Songs of Life and Love in Support of Freedom to Marry." Coming up is a song by Richard Hefner and it also has a very cool video. It's called "Girls and Boys," and has the subtitle, "An It Gets Better Country Song."
Richard Hefner - Girls and Boys (2012)
I think these next two acts were very underappreciated so I can't help including them here. First, from 1996 Lynzi Wildheart & the Amazon Range Riders, and "Tell Me Not to Go," and then, from 2004, the Canadian band The Jane Waynes, singing about "Women's Prison."
Lynzi Wildheart &
the Amazon Range Riders - Tell Me Not to Go (1996)
I let the guys close that set. Jimmy Demar sang "Come Out & Play," from 2008, and the Chicago band Devin & the Straights gave us "Why Don't You Be a Man." And you just about could not have a better country heritage than Waylon Payne. His mother is Sammi Smith and he was named for his godfather, Waylon Jennings. From his 2004 CD "The Drifter," is the song "Running from the Rain."
Waylon Payne - Running from the Rain (2004)
Okay, four hours is enough, I've got more but I have to draw the line somewhere, in my salute to recent country music by GLBT artists. I'm JD Doyle and I thank you for listening. I'm closing it all with an artist I've been following for years, Brian Glenn, who for many years was a Nashville staple, performing in Marty Stuart's band, on countless TV shows and on about 2000 demos. His latest solo album is called "Full Circle," and in our closing song he tells us "I'm Only In It for the Love."
Brian Glenn - I'm Only In It for the Love (2011)