UPDATE: Springsteen Cancels NC Show in wake of HB2 anti-LGBT “Bathroom Law”

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One of the more shameful episodes in North Carolina political history continues to have ripple effects. Earlier this week PayPal pulled out of a major financial deal with the state too.

By Fred Mills

“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true / Or is it something worse?”

Nearly 15,000 ticketholders for the upcoming Sunday (April 10) Bruce Springsteen concert at the Greensboro, NC, Coliseum won’t be queuing up for entry – he last played in North Carolina back in September of 2014, prompting this BLURT review by yours truly – instead, they’ll be filing for refunds, as the Springsteen camp this afternoon canceled the show. The reason? To demonstrate “solidarity” with those in the Tarheel State who oppose the recent passage of HB2, aka the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act.

As anyone reading this already knows, the Act essentially legalizes discrimination against LGBT citizens in North Carolina, so we won’t recap what’s likely the top political news in America this week, or debate its implications. Below, read the entire Springsteen statement, as posted at the artist’s site.

The concert has yet to be rescheduled, and most observers feel it will not be, given the trajectory of Springsteen’s current The River tour.

Worth noting: CNN Money reports that, according to the Greensboro Coliseum, this is the first cancellation they’ve heard about thus far, and that both Justin Bieber and Dolly Parton are slated to appear in upcoming months. It’s hard to picture the Biebs actually taking a stand on anything other than matters related to his own whims and conveniences, so no way is he going to give up a payday for something as ephemeral as morals and values.

Still, Dolly has always been her own woman, and she has spoken up at points over the course of her career about social causes that were important to her. So we’ll see.

It’s worth noting that when, for the Detroit Metro Times, I interviewed her peer Loretta Lynn in 2003 about Lynn’s Jack White-helmed Van Lear Rose album, the whole George Bush-Dixie Chicks flap was still in the news, and Lynn gave the Chicks a solid tongue lashing, coming down firmly in the Toby Keith-powered “shut up and play your guitar” camp. (Feel free to request the actual transcript of my Lynn interview.) Country music performers in recent years, though, have gradually been steering away from the so-called party line and actually thinking for themselves rather than just mouthing the usual America/God platitudes. So, as I said,  we’ll see how this plays out.

***

As you, my fans, know I’m scheduled to play in Greensboro, North Carolina this Sunday. As we also know, North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the “bathroom” law. HB2 — known officially as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden. To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments. Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10th. Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Sunday April 10th show is canceled. Tickets will be refunded at point of purchase.

UPDATE 4/9: Springsteen subsequently posted a second time to his Facebook page, following the initial announcement, posting a link to Common Cause and urging, “Voice your opposition of discriminatory legislation like North Carolina’s HB2 by contacting your elected officials. Find them here: http://bit.ly/22iOvks”

Meanwhile, Rolling Stone spoke with Steven Van Zandt last night at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, who echoed The Boss’ sentiments: “We just felt the issue was just too important. This really vile and evil discrimination is starting to spread state to state and we thought, ‘We better take a stand right now and catch it early.’ It’s unfortunately the only way people understand. You have to hurt them economically in order to have them do the right thing morally, unfortunately.”

Worth noting here is that Van Zandt’s wildly popular “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” syndicated radio show is sponsoring a tour featuring The Sonics, The Woggles and Barrence Whitfield & the Savages – which hits North Carolina, at Asheville’s Orange Peel venue, on May 5. Given that the NC date is a month out, it’s probably on a wait-and-see status for the time being. It would be hard for Van Zandt to justify the tour going through with that show, though, the closer we do get to the May 5 date.

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