Not every out-of-state musician scheduled to come to North Carolina is canceling over House Bill 2. But if current trends continue, at the very least all of them will be called on to take a stand on the controversial new law.
The latest is Cyndi Lauper, scheduled to play Raleigh on June 4. The singer announced on her Facebook page that her show will go on, with all profits earmarked for efforts to repeal House Bill 2. Her statement concludes:
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.
House Bill 2, which outlaws local nondiscrimination ordinances (and has attracted most of its attention over regulating which public bathrooms transgender people are allowed to use), was passed and signed into law in a hastily called emergency session on March 23.
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After weeks of speculation about the law’s potential effects on the concert industry, Bruce Springsteen raised the debate to a new high-profile level with last Friday’s announcement that he was canceling his Greensboro show over House Bill 2. The next major cancellation was Ringo Starr, who announced on Wednesday that his June 18 show in Cary was off.
In their wake, Jimmy Buffett, Gregg Allman and Brandi Carlile are among those who have released statements condemning the law, though stopping short of canceling their shows in North Carolina. There is a movement afoot, North Carolina Needs You, which encourages musicians to come play and use their performances here to raise awareness and money.
Locals are having their say, too. One of the most symbolic moves was Chatham County Line pointedly taking down the North Carolina flag, which the Raleigh bluegrass band has used as an onstage set piece for years.
You can also expect a steady stream of shows protesting this law. One is in the works for Saxapahaw’s Haw River Ballroom on May 15, Stand Against HB2 - North Carolina Musicians United for EqualityNC. Southern Culture on the Skids, Love Language, Connells, dBs and many others are already on the bill, with more on the way.