In true punk-rock fashion, veteran country music journalist Rachel Cholst (No Depression, Country Queer, The Boot, Wide Open Country, Adobe & Teardrops) just released queer country music zine, Rainbow Rodeo.
To date, this is the only known print publication solely devoted to queer country music. The zine was funded by a Kickstarter campaign last August, doubling its initial fundraising goal and earning a spot on the Kickstarter homepage as an editor’s pick.
With Cholst at the helm, Rainbow Rodeo features personal essays from Sarah Shook, catherine the great, and Justin Hiltner; interviews with Jake Blount and Amythyst Kiah, and pieces by fellow journalists Jason Scott (American Songwriter), Eryn Brothers (Country Queer) and Mya Byrne (Country Queer), among others.
«I really wanted this first issue to represent the queer country community’s diversity», Cholst notes. A third of the first issues contributors identify as transgender or non-binary, Cholst also made a point of foregrounding QTPOC voices by interviewing Blount and Kiah. Comics illustrator, Luyi Bennett, emphasised the theme by illustrating a queer country line dance for people of all shapes and sizes.
«The zine is a win-win situation», says Cholst to LGBTQ Music Chart. «By crowdfunding this project, the contributors get paid. Artists can order copies of the publication at-cost and sell it as merch. Even if they’re not featured in the current issue, it’s a way to spread word of mouth about other queer country artists in the community».
Now, more than ever, this is a great time for artists to diversify their merchandise offerings. Bookstores and artists can bulk order the zine at-cost for $15 (this includes shipping). They can keep all the profits from selling the zine for $5 each. And, of course, single issues can be ordered at www.rainbowrodeozine.com
With queer country music coverage becoming more mainstream, zines are a way to preserve the scene’s punk rock sense of rebellion — and to attract listeners who wouldn’t normally be interested in country music.
The theme for Issue #2 will be Wide Open Spaces, with all the colonial and liberatory implications that phrase implies. Writers of all experience levels are encouraged to apply here: https://www.rainbowrodeozine.com/submissions
Rainbow Rodeo seeks to be self-sufficient in the future via membership tiers at multiple price points, starting at $1 charged twice a year on up, with rewards at each tier.
The zine is printed on-demand by Kudzu Books in Fayetteville, AK, a queer owned and operated company that uses the profits from Rainbow Rodeo to fund a queer DIY space in the city.
Read Rainbow Rodeo Here