The Gay Ole Opry: Country Music for All Cowpeople

Written by: Kara Kundert

When Karen & the Sorrows, a Brooklyn-based alt-country band, first conceived of an annual LGBT-friendly honky-tonk extravaganza in 2011, they found themselves frequently answering the question, "Why queer country?" There response was pretty simple. "Because sometimes you love a culture that doesn’t love you back." By creating their own space to celebrate themselves and the music they loved, they knew they could influence that culture and create new communities from people that had previously felt excluded. That was more than reason enough to give it a shot.

And so in April 2011, they threw the first ever queer country music festival in Brooklyn, NY. When they first saw their audience, in all of their cowboy boot and bedazzled beauty, they knew they had latched onto something new and necessary. For the past 6 years, they have been hosting quarterly shows, called Queer Country Quarterly, with an annual festival blowout titled The Gay Ole Opry. As of 2015, there is also a west coast counterpart hosted by Eli Conley, aptly titled Queer Country West. They have featured such artists as Girls on Grass, The Paisley Fields, Tyler Hughes and Sam Gleaves, and My Gay Banjo.

We're so excited to point out an upcoming Bay Area show happening during this Pride Month: Eli Conley will be hosting Queer Country West this upcoming Sunday, June 11 at the Back Room in Berkeley, CA starting at 1:30 PM! Featuring new music from Eli's upcoming CD and a sneak peak at the Secret Emchy Society's new album, it's bound to be a great show. Tickets available here.

For more information about The Gay Ole Opry, Queer Country Quarterly, and Queer Country West, please check out their website here.

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