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September 17, 2022 @ 8:00 pm - 10:30 pm
The West End Cultural Centre will continue to require that patrons wear facemasks and show proof of vaccination for all events in the venue. We will continue to evaluate this policy as circumstances evolve.
While Lavender Country (1973) was little known outside the Pacific Northwest and only released one self-distributed album, they created a genuine cultural milestone; the first openly gay country album. Sponsored by the original Stonewall activists of the Gay Community Social Services of Seattle, Lavender Country’s self-titled release was the brainchild of Patrick Haggerty, whose experiences as a gay liberation activist during the Stonewall era shaped him into a tenacious political savant. Radically defying the conservative norms of country music, Haggerty turned to Seattle’s gay community for song topics that addressed a wide range of political and social concerns, including institutionalized oppression and divisions of the working class, as well as more personal subjects such as the complications of intimacy and sexual identity.
Despite the commitment of Haggerty and his bandmates to the cause, the original group eventually fizzled out in 1976 when the democratic party took control of the movement and sidelined the radicals. Over four decades later the indie label Paradise of Bachelors discovered the album, reissued it, and shot Lavender Country into the stratosphere. With a new rotating lineup of musicians, Haggerty began performing to a brand new generation of Lavender Country fans drawn to the band’s timeless message of queer liberation and revolution. Hundreds of opportunities emerged – gigs, cross country tours, collaborations, scores of interviews with Dazed, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and the likes.
In 2016, Dan Taberski’s film “These C*cksucking Tears” Premiered at SXSW accompanied by a string of performances by the band. In 2017 and again in 2019, Robert Dekkers’ Post:Ballet company staged a modern ballet performance of the original album, performed in San Francisco with Lavender Country accompanying live. In recent years, the band’s message has even resonated with contemporary queer country icons. Patrick has been invited to share the stage with the likes of Orville Peck and Trixie Mattel, who covered the Lavender Country song “Stranger” on her 2020 Grammy nominated album, “Barbara”. Hollywood director Robert Connolly wrote a screenplay for a full length film, and is currently shopping for production funding.
Haggerty, now approaching age 77, is stronger than ever. His shows are a unique combination of good country music, sharp Marxist political critique, and a huge lineup of incredible backup musicians across the country. Poignant emotions leave his audience laughing, dancing, and crying all at once. The current emergence of fascism and the deep political divisions in American culture are making Lavender Country a critical component of progressive and radical politics.
This show is presented in partnership with Pride Winnipeg.