Proud & Loud: A Mike Maimone Guest Blog

by - June 30, 2024

Photo courtesy of Mike Maimone

To close out this year’s Pride Month, Black is the New AP Style asked singer/songwriter Mike Maimone to curate a playlist that encapsulates his love for the LGBTQ community. Here’s what he has to say about each song on his Proud & Loud playlist, exclusively created for us:

That's How God Made Me by Joy Oladokun
This is one of my favorite feel good jams from Joy's amazing and eclectic catalog - the perfect way to kick off my playlist this Pride.

Unfollow - ExFactor Version by Mike Maimone featuring Jules the Lion
My late husband loved the original version of this song, and thought it could be my breakthrough track. But it came out two days before he passed away from acute leukemia, and I completely forgot about promoting it. A year later, coming back from a visit to his grave in Michigan, I got an idea to give the song new life. I recorded four alternate versions, including this funky take featuring my friend, Jules the Lion, to voice the opposing side of the breakup. I hope you'll copy it over to your own feelgood Pride playlist!

Blueneck by Chris Housman
I moved to Nashville in 2020 and met Chris through Kristen Ford. He's one of the most talented musicians I've ever worked with, and such a beautiful soul on top of it. I'm so excited to see that his career is blasting off as well, including recent features on CMT and CBS Sunday Morning.

Here's To You Kid by Kristen Ford featuring Ani DiFranco
Kristen is a singer/songwriter and a bad ass human being. I met her when a mutual friend was touring through Nashville. I went to her next show and was blown away. Just in awe of her energy, and her voice is SO COOL. She recently went on tour with Ani DiFranco, and I'm excited to see where she goes next.

I Still Think About You by Rackley
This is one of my favorite songs. Ever. I met Rackley through playing weekly at Canvas in Nashville. When you talk about natural singers, this guy is it. Such an effortlessly cool voice. When this song dropped I must've listened to it 10x/day.

Golden Child by Mercy Bell
When I moved to Nashville I had NO CLUE what a thriving LGBTQ+ music scene I was about to find. I was introduced to Mercy by Alex Caress, the keyboardist from a band I've played in called Los Colognes. He was musical director on her project, the soundtrack to a musical called Leather Daddies, and called me in to sing on a track and play keys on the EP. Working with Mercy and the band was such a dream! Her songwriting is exceptional.

Other Boys by Paisley Fields
I met Paisley in Nashville around Americanafest. Another wonderful human being pushing boundaries in a genre that needed some pushing.

Georgia by Katie Pruitt
Can I just put it out there that it'd be a dream to appear on her Recovering Catholics podcast? Katie's voice and songwriting are absolutely incredible. This is one of my favorites from her debut full-length, which will always make me think about my time in Nashville, where I was schooled on how much more I needed to learn about songwriting.

Ohio by Madaline Finn
I hung out at the RNBW songwriter night at Lipstick Lounge in East Nashville. Again, I had no idea what an incredible LGBTQ+ music community existed in Nashville. RNBW is one of a few collectives making sure there are safe spaces for queer artists to thrive. Madaline was a powerhouse of a closer on one of those nights. I was speechless after her set. I love this song's illustration of being from a place and feeling tied to it while not living there. We just so happen to share that home state, too.

Summer Lover Boy by Evan James Smith
Evan is another supremely talented queer artist that I met through RNBW Collective. He's a natural born showman and singer who gives Freddy Mercury vibes on stage.

Mr. Atlanta by Fancy Hagood
Fancy is one of the most incredible artists I discovered in my time in Music City. I saw him blow the roof off of an Americanafest set and then babbled something about how much I loved his show when I saw him afterwards. This track feels inspired by Sgt. Pepper's-era Beatles in the most fabulous possible way.

California - Rufus Wainwright
This just felt like the best queer track to transition my playlist into my move to the West Coast. Enjoy a classic from one of the all-time greats!

Cooler Near the Lake by Tom Goss
I landed in Los Angeles in the midst of the worst tragedy of my life. Luckily, I found a friendly face in Tom Goss. We knew each other from touring over the years, and turns out he knew my husband, Howard, too. He welcomed me into his community and helped me begin to feel like LA was home. I picked this song, similar to Ohio, for the ways I feel about that word, "home". It's hard to define sometimes, but I know there's always a part of where I'm from in where I am.

Chemistry by Jules the Lion
Tom introduced me to Julian Michael through his Queer Connections meet-up. We hit it off immediately. I heard the EP he was working on and thought he'd be perfect for the ExFactor version of Unfollow. And I got to play piano on a really special song that'll be out later this year.

I'll Be Around by Mutts
I started Mutts with Bob Buckstaff back in 2009 when I lived in Chicago. We toured and released music relentlessly for 10 years. This song is one of my favorites and most meaningful. If you get a moment to look up the video, it's about the masks we wear as queer people in society, and how our chosen family can help us finally take them off and live our authentic lives.

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart by JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound
If we're talking about my time in Chicago and queer music, we absolutely need a track from JC Brooks Band. They're a staple of both scenes, and I picked this track because it doesn't get more Chicago than a Wilco cover. I came out to my friends and family when I lived in the City of Big Shoulders, so this song feels like the track playing during the opening credits of the movie of my life as an out man.

He's Coming Back by Hunx & His Punx
When Mutts was touring 24/7/365 in the 2010s, we would always see these guys out there, too. Never got to play with them but I picked up a record of theirs and practically wore it out. Here's one of my favorites.

Bottom of the Barrel by Lung
Lung is one of the absolute coolest bands Mutts ever had the pleasure of playing with. Cello, drums, and amazing vocals. The first time I heard this song I lost my mind in the best way possible.

My Boyfriend is My Girlfriend by GRLwood
Mutts played the Living Room Series in Louisville with this band and they blew the roof off. Virtuosic, angelic vocals switching to insane screaming and back effortlessly, it's wonderfully chaotic.

Transgender Dysphoria Blues by Against Me!
I was admittedly the least familiar with punk in all of its iterations among the members of Mutts. So I didn't really know much about this band before we were asked to cover them on a tribute record. This song is so bad ass.

Daddy by MAN ON MAN
This track is like good bear sex - slow, heavy-handed, and it lasts a long time.

Whatever by Hüsker Dü
Closing the rockin' portion of my Pride playlist with one of the Midwest's most iconic punk bands, fronted by Bob Mould. He was singing about queer issues during the height of the AIDS epidemic. We're standing on the shoulders of giants in the queer community, and Mr. Mould is one of those titans.

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