House of Blues canceled concert by homophobic reggae singer, but new promoter arranges new venue
Dallas’ House of Blues last month canceled a scheduled concert, originally set for this month, by reggae artist Buju Banton after controversy over the singer’s blatantly anti-gay and violent lyrics. Due to pressure from gay rights advocate groups across the country, LiveNation dropped the tour and Banton’s concert itinerary looked finished.
However, Banton’s trip to Dallas is back on after promoter Tony Gold booked Banton to perform at the Palm Beach Club in Deep Ellum on Tuesday, Oct. 20. The announcement of the rescheduled appearance has prompted further protests from the local LGBT community.
Resource Center Dallas released a statement on Wednesday, Oct. 7 calling for quick action from the LGBT community to ensure the concert does not happen.
“It’s really unfortunate this venue booked him. I don’t think any place would host a performer who stood up and made equivalent statements against African-Americans, Asians or women,” RCD Associate Executive Director Cece Cox said.
“This shouldn’t be offensive to just GLBT people. This is someone using their profession to incite violence against people. Nothing that he says is acceptable,” she said.
“We want a welcoming neighborhood here. Having an artist come here with a message of hatred is not something we can stand behind. We don’t want to be the thought police but at the same time we want people to know that’s not the kind of stuff we’re throwing down,” Sean Fitzgerald said. Fitzgerald is president of the Deep Ellum Community Association that works to maintain a creative and open neighborhood.
The RCD is encouraging people to contact the club and ask respectfully “why they are promoting hate by booking this performer” and then requesting the club to cancel the show. RCD officials are also pointing to the Web site, CancelBujuBanton.wetpaint.com, as a resource of information on Banton’s homophobic lyrics and music.
RCD is working with Equality March Texas on efforts to cancel the show. Should the concert go through, both parties say they are ready to respond.
“We’re basically giving them until the 16th. We’re looking at protests as a last resort, but Equality Texas is prepared to do so,” Equality March Texas co-founder Daniel Cates said.
Calls to the club have not been returned. However, their answering machine message says the club does not open until 9 p.m. Thursday evening, and the RCD had just received word about the show earlier this week.
Banton was scheduled to perform in Hollywood’s Cabana Club Thursday, Oct. 8, but the show was canceled after protests by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.
Banton is infamous for his 1988 song “Boom Bye Bye” which promotes shooting “batty boys” in the head with an Uzi. “Batty boys” is slang for gay men.
Reggae music was under pressure to denounce anti-gay lyrics from artists and the Reggae Compassionate Act was created in 2007 by the Canadian-based Stop Murder Music campaign. Artists would then not perform songs promoting violence — especially toward the gay community.
The act was allegedly signed by Banton who later denied ever signing and continues to perform the song.
In 2004, he was believed to be involved in a gay-bashing of six men in Jamaica although he was never convicted. It has been alleged that authorities there conducted a sloppy investigation and colluded to protect the homegrown celebrity.
Banton has been known to yell out comments such as, “Faggots have to die,” and “There is no end to the war between me and faggots.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 9, 2009.