First-recognized gay country band to perform at Maintenance Shop


Charlie Coffey/Iowa State Daily

Lavender Country performs at the Octagon Center for the Arts on Sept. 18 for Maximum Ames Music Festival 2016.

Tanner Owens

The artist behind the first gay-themed country album released in the United States will visit Ames on April 18 for a performance at the Maintenance Shop in the Memorial Union.

Patrick Haggerty, known professionally since 1972 as Lavender Country, has released a modest amount of new material since his landmark album release in 1973. His eponymous debut album, “Lavender Country,” is considered the first country album with heavy LGBT messages and content, according to the Lavender Country website. The Thursday night show will commence at 7 p.m. and features help from fellow LGBT-country band, Paisley Fields.

The M-Shop show isn’t Haggerty’s first time performing in Iowa. Previously, Haggerty has performed his take on country at Ames’ London Underground, the Des Moines Social Club and the Octopus in Cedar Falls. Behind the whimsical song titles lie a set of lyrics that is meant to create an inspiring environment for concert-goers.

“I think people who attend a Lavender Country show can expect guts,” Haggerty said. “Real guts and real truth-telling with some great musicians who want to play old-school country.”

Not only can Lavender Country concerts be a learning experience for listeners, but also for Haggerty himself. Traveling across the country has given Haggerty a new perspective on the people that make up the United States.

“Iowa has been a great place to perform,” Haggerty said. “They’ve been very receptive to us, which was pleasantly surprising. I’ve had to put aside some of the stereotypes I had about Iowa. Iowa has some really cool, hip things going on.”

Growing up near Seattle, Washington, Haggerty knew from and early age that he had different interests than most boys his age. He found support from his family in his youth, specifically from his father. His father cultivated Haggerty’s creativity and helped facilitate any activity Haggerty wanted to involve himself in. This included taking Haggerty to various drag shows to compete at the age of 13.

Lavender Country came to fruition in 1972, made possible by donations from members of Haggerty’s social circle and community. The Seattle-area LGBT community quickly circulated Lavender Country’s debut album through a series of bootleg recordings distributed through the United States Postal Service. With song names such as “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears” and “Come Out Singing,” Lavender Country became the it-group for gay country music.

After a brief tour and performing at various festivals, Lavender Country became no more, sitting dormant on Haggerty’s shelf for nearly 40 years. While away from music, Haggerty married, raised two children and became active in the radical, socialist political scene in Seattle.

Unbeknownst to Haggerty, “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears” was uploaded to YouTube. The song caught the attention of a listener who then presented the song to Paradise of Bachelors, a small, independent record label out of North Carolina. After agreeing to a contract with the label, Haggerty found himself on the road again in 2014. Five years later, Lavender Country remains a staple in various clubs around the U.S. and will return to Ames to perform at the M-Shop.

Iowa State students can purchase tickets for $8 while non-students will need $12. Tickets are available through or through the M-Shop box office.