The Jazz Fest performers join the community of musicians who are trying to decide how best to address the state bill that targets the transgender community.
Pearl Jam will play Jazz Fest Saturday (Acura Stage, 4:30 p.m.), and the band was scheduled to play Raleigh, North Carolina tonight. Two days ago, Pearl Jam announced that it would join Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Bryan Adams and boycott the state until it overturned the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, the law that has come to be known as simply HB2 or "the bathroom bill." HB2 prohibits members of the transgender community from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.
In a statement, the band wrote:
It is with deep consideration and much regret that we must cancel the Raleigh show in North Carolina on April 20th.
This will be upsetting to those who have tickets and you can be assured that we are equally frustrated by the situation.
The HB2 law that was recently passed is a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens. The practical implications are expansive and its negative impact upon basic human rights is profound. We want America to be a place where no one can be turned away from a business because of who they love or fired from their job for who they are.
It is for this reason that we must take a stand against prejudice, along with other artists and businesses, and join those in North Carolina who are working to oppose HB2 and repair what is currently unacceptable.
We have communicated with local groups and will be providing them with funds to help facilitate progress on this issue.
In the meantime we will be watching with hope and waiting in line for a time when we can return.
Brandi Carlile (April 28, Gentilly Stage, 3:40 p.m.) will play the North Carolina shows on her schedule. She wrote on Instagram after Bruce Springsteen announced his decision to boycott:
As I'm crossing over the state line into the beautiful state of Massachusetts where I was legally married to my wife four years ago- I'm contemplating Bruce Springsteen and North Carolina- everywhere I've gone I'm being asked if I plan to cancel my shows. I should start by saying that I want to be Bruce Springsteen when I grow up. Bruce has decided on principal not to go through with his concert because of thinly veiled legislation having been passed that permits the discrimination of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters in NC. I deeply appreciate this, and I want to say on my own behalf thank you for doing what you're doing guys. These are massive shows and this is big business lost for NC- Bruce is not LGBTQ himself- but is bravely defending those of us that are. This is how we've seen the progress that we've seen. As artists it's our responsibility to take cause against those who would oppress our brothers and sisters and defend them using whatever power we possess. Bruce is an artist, but on behalf of NC LGBTQ citizens, also is poignantly depriving NC of the big business his event would bring- well done.
For very different reasons I have decided not to cancel my North Carolina shows.
I'm a small artist, and I'm gay, many of my fans are gay as well.
To cancel my shows in NC would further oppress my fans who are hurt by this legislation, who worked hard to suppress it, and who need a place where they can come together. That's why we intend to be in Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Asheville, and Greensboro this summer. We're going to come together, let our voices be heard, not stand down, and make a joyful noise in the face of this insult of a law.
We all have a role to play here. Bruce is playing his beautifully and I respect him. In my own humble way though, I want to witness the protest through music.
See you in NC my friends. XoBC
Carlile will also donate proceeds from the North Carolina concerts the the ACLU of North Carolina through her Looking Out Foundation, and she plans to invite grassroots organizations to be part of the events.
Cyndi Lauper, who has had a strong relationship with the LGBTQ community for years, made a similar decision. She'll play her June 4 show in Raleigh, but she'll donate proceeds toEquality North Carolina and its efforts to fight HB2. Her manager and agent will donate their commissions as well. In a statement, Lauper said
I look forward to coming to North Carolina and standing up for equality and fairness. If we truly want an inclusive society, we all have to include ourselves in the effort to make that happen. This is the best way I know how to include myself and urge you to join me in the best way you know how.
Against Me! with transgender singer Laura Jane Grace will play a May 15 show in Durham in protest. Grace told Buzzfeed, "I’m going to create an event around the show as a form of protest to say that despite whatever stupid laws they enact, trans people are not going to be scared. They are not going to go away.”
She plans to make all the bathrooms at the venue gender-neutral for the night, and has invited LGBT groups to use the show as an opportunity create greater awareness and understanding.
I think the real danger with HB2 is that it creates a target on transgender people specifically. When you feel targeted as a trans person, the natural inclination is to go into hiding. But visibility is more important than ever; to go there and have the platform of a stage to stand on and speak your mind and represent yourself.
Jazz Fest regular Jimmy Buffett did not boycott North Carolina when he played shows in Raleigh and Charlotte earlier this month. In his blog, he wrote:
As a traveling musician for 40 years, I played many shows years ago, in many states where you could go to prison for 20 years for smoking a joint. It was a stupid law based on stupid assumptions. Time has fortunately reversed a lot of that way of thinking. But now another stupid law, based on stupid assumptions, has sprung up like kudzu in North Carolina, where we are scheduled to play shows next week in Raleigh and Charlotte.
North Carolina was there for me as a performer in the early days and I have always felt a loyalty to fans there that goes deep. Rightly so, a lot of people are reacting to the stupid law. I happen to believe that the majority of our fans in North Carolina feel the way I do about that law. I am lucky enough to have found a job in the business of fun. These shows were booked and sold out long before the governor signed that stupid law. I am not going to let stupidity or bigotry trump fun for my loyal fans this year. We will be playing in Raleigh and Charlotte next week.
That said, as for the future of shows in North Carolina, it would definitely depend on whether that stupid law is repealed. That is up to the good people of North Carolina and there are many, and I am confident that they will see that the right thing will be done. As Forrest said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
Gregg Allman took a similar stand to Buffett's, choosing to play a show in North Carolina and writing on his Facebook page:
I know that North Carolina is a state full of good folks and loyal fans, many of whom are angry about and feel misrepresented by this action. My band and I will continue to play our show as scheduled there tomorrow, April 13, and hope that our music unites people in this challenging time. We stand in solidarity with the LGBT community urging Gov. McCrory to listen to the people and reverse this wrong.