In 1973, Patrick Haggerty wrote what's since been dubbed "the first gay country album." Forty years later, the Washington-born activist is on the verge of releasing an unlikely follow up. A crowdsourcing campaign was launched this week to fund the release of Blackberry Rose, Haggerty's second album as Lavender Country.
Created with the backing of Seattle's queer liberationist community at the height of the Stonewall movement, Lavender Country's self-titled first record was created with little expectation for commercial success After all, the album's centerpiece is a revolutionary anthem titled "Cryin' These Cocksucking Tears." But a 2014 reissue of Lavender Country reestablished the album's place in history, and the ensuing reviews, tribute articles and interviews propelled Haggerty to cult hero status.
In an interview with WW earlier this year, Haggerty discussed the impetus for Lavender Country's follow up: "I've stuck with my legacy, and I intend to use it till my last breath. If I didn't take an opportunity to drive this message at this period right now in this historical period, if I didn't seize this opportunity, I would be remiss in my revolutionary responsibility."
Blackberry Rose was recorded last summer in a studio owned by Robert Hammerstrom, who played guitar on Lavender Country's first album. The album continues to advocate for LGBTQ rights, but it also addresses racism and sexism and makes Haggerty's long held anti-capitalist politics more overt—Oakland blues singer Blackberri contributes a song called "Eat the Rich."
In recent years, 75-year-old Haggerty has become something of an honorary member of Portland's music scene. His backing band for Portland shows is comprised of local roots music scenesters, many of whom he met at the Laurelthirst, and Lavender Country frequently shares bills with Portland punk band Soft Butch.
The Blackberry Rose campaign has raised $1,000 out of its $10,000 goal in the past two days. Donation perks range from signed vinyl copies of the new album to a private concert in the donor's home.
Lavender Country's next Portland performance is Wednesday, July 17 at Polaris Hall, where Haggerty will open the album release show for Portland's own subversive country music purveyors, Roselit Bone.