After five years of trailblazing queer country music, New York City’s Gay Ole Opry is hitting the road for the first time. Opry regulars The Paisley Fields and Karen & the Sorrows are heading South for a weeklong tour, and they are coming to Asheville on Monday, April 25th. The show is at The Crow & Quill at 106 N Lexington Ave at 8:00 pm and door is a sliding scale from $5-$10. They will be joined by Asheville’s Lillie Jean and Mawk Chunk and are especially thrilled that the night will benefit QORDS, a weeklong overnight summer camp for queer and trans youth or youth of LGBTQ families, with special focus on youth in the South.
With The Paisley Fields’ harmony-driven, piano-based alt-country, Karen & the Sorrows “haunting pedal steel work and unvarnished heartbreak” (Bust Magazine), Lillie Jean’s psychedelicate American music, and Mawk Chunk’s sweet harmonies, the show will be a firstofitskind good time.
“As the struggle against violent new laws like North Carolina’s HB2 continues, we are looking forward to being in community with so many amazing Southern queer country musicians and to supporting the important work that QORDS does,” says Gay Ole Opry founder Karen Pittelman of Karen & the Sorrows. “Country music tells powerful stories about family, love, heartbreak, strength, and healing. Those stories should include our families, our love, and, especially in this moment, our heartbreak and our strength.”
The first Gay Ole Opry was held in 2011 and the longrunning Queer Country Quarterly began soon after as a way to create community for people who love country music even if country music doesn’t always love us back. The Gay Ole Opry knows that everybody needs a honky tonk angel to hold them tight. And that country music should be for all cowpeople.
More about the bands and the benefit:
QORDS is a weeklong overnight summer camp for queer and trans youth or youth of LGBTQ families, with special focus on youth in the South. Young people ages 1217 form bands and write songs to perform at the end of the week. They also attend workshops on issues related to creative expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. By empowering Southern queer & trans youth and building community through music, QORDS is a vehicle for expressing gender and sexuality, and harbors an environment of self-discovery and social change. Registration is currently open online for this upcoming summer 2016 session!
Lilli Jean is an American Roots, Rock ‘n’ Roll musician with a rainbow skew. She’s like a psychedelic Bonnie Raitt. Combining the forces of Blues and Groove into her own framework of intricate original songwriting, Lilli Jean breathes life into her songs with soul and spirit. Her music has been described as “Dolly Parton meets garage rock” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll for people who know what Rock ‘n’ Roll is… but completely original.”
Karen & the Sorrows
Brooklyn alt-country band Karen & the Sorrows “write loss and heartbreak, and goddamn are they good at it.” (F*** Yeah, Queer Music) Their debut album The Names of Things is full of “haunting pedal steel work and unvarnished heartbreak” (Bust Magazine) and was voted one of the Freeform American Roots Chart’s best debut albums of 2014. New York Music Daily writes, “Country keeps evolving and Karen & the Sorrows are taking it to a place it’s never been before, a good and creepy one.” Queer country pioneers, The Sorrows cofounded the Gay Ole Opry, the first ever queer country music festival, and host the popular Queer Country Quarterly.
The Paisley Fields
The Paisley Fields are a Brooklyn based alt-country band, unapologetic about pushing boundaries and seeking inspiration in the unexpected. Though lead singer James Wilson is inspired by country musicians like Dolly Parton and Gram Parsons, he wanted The Paisley Fields lyrics to reflect a modern world. Pittsburgh City Paper writes, “While The Paisley Fields have a good bit in common with contemporary country — rich production, songs with pop bones and twangy accents — the band probably won’t be touring with Toby Keith anytime soon. They’re a refreshing change from country radio.” The Paisley Fields tour frequently, and their latest album, Oh These Urban Fences, is described by No Depression as “a labor of love that demands your attention.” Officially a five piece band, James Wilson and Anna Volpe will be representing The Paisley Fields on the Gay Ole Opry tour, performing stripped down versions of their original songs as well as some of their favorite covers.
Mawk Chunk originated in 2015 when Amy Fisher and Caroline Stoltzfus got together to sing through the cold winter months. Both are Pennsylvania natives who met in Asheville, NC and who shared a dream of playing alt-country covers and creating a sound of their own. You may catch them singing sweet harmonies and brushing a snare drum on an Asheville street corner downtown.