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Music Blog

Buju Banton canceled on threat of protests

by Jesse Fruhwirth
- Posted // 2009-09-15 - The Urban Lounge canceled its Buju Banton concert no less than a few hours after City Weekly first got word that the show would be protested because of the artist's violent and homophobic lyrics.

Buju Banton, a Jamaican reggae/dancehall performer is reviled by some for his lyrics. Many also doubt his innocence in a 2004 attack against 6 Jamaican men believed to be gay, of which Banton was acquitted.

Banton was scheduled to play Urban Lounge Oct. 8.

Salt Lake City activist Ash Johnsdottir made public her call for a protest against the show only this morning with a press release to media. She said venues that host Banton are "profiting from hate speech."

But not Urban Lounge! Owner Will Sartain, in an e-mail to City Weekly:

When initially scheduling the Buju Banton event we were unaware of his hateful anti-gay message. Upon further review, Urban Lounge has decided to cancel the event. We strive for peace and understanding in our community. We support the rights of all. We have made this decision on moral grounds.

I informed Johnsdottir moments ago that her mission has been accomplished.

"That's fantastic. Thank you to Urban Lounge for doing the right thing," Johnsdottir said.

But it might not be over yet. LA, Frisco, Philly, Chicago, Vegas, Dallas and Houston shows were all canceled by venue owner AEG/Golden Voice. Some were rescheduled at new venues, as you can see on Banton's MySpace page.

Sad thing is, I really like Banton's music, his lyrics notwithstanding. "Boom Boom Bye," the song most often referenced for its violence, is good, if you're into aggressive, contemporary Jamaican music, which I am, a bit, the homophobia notwithstanding. I used to drive around to it all time. But don't protest me Johnsdottir: I didn't pay a dime for it. I downloaded it for free.

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Posted // September 16,2009 at 11:22

Slippery slope.

Don't go to the show. Let him sing and play and entertain those who come to hear him. You don't have to buy tickets. I didn't go to the "Take Utah Back" rally held by the hillbilly ATV minority because I knew it would upset me.

This reminds me of Marilyn Manson coming to town with Nine Inch Nails and being barred from playing because the Delta Center powers-that-be were afriad of his lyrics and message. Seems kinda quaint and silly now.

I guess I could protest yet another Kurt Bestor Christmas show this year. I just need to come up with a reason other than actual musical taste. Anyone want to join me? I'm an aetheist and his constant borderline spiritual pandering to the masses in this town threatens my well-being, my piece of mind, my pursuit of happiness and personal safety.

If some of you are going to protest every actor, musician, artist or writer who has thrown down a racial or gender-sex epithet, you're going to be very, very busy. Or very, very selective in your outrage.


Posted // September 15,2009 at 14:26

Exactly. They are very selective about what is offensive and what is not. VERY LAME on the part of Urban Lounge and "activist" Ash Johnsdottir. Buju is not hosting an anti gay rally. He's perfoming his form of art, also known as freedom of expression.


Posted // September 15,2009 at 20:37 - I always love the statements, "Your wish to rid the world of hate and bigotry is in itself, hate and bigotry'". Buju still has his freedom to speak his mind about whatever he wants, he just won't be profiting from it (at least at the Urban Lounge) now. This is the free market in action people! Voting with your dollars, applying financial pressure, why do you hate capitalism so much?


Posted // September 15,2009 at 14:02

I am straight and mormon and have been absolutely thrilled since I heard this concert was coming to Salt Lake a few weeks ago. I got online today to see if a protest had been organized when I saw the bad news.

I agree with Realist.

"Bigotry and hate are not welcome in Utah." Since your whole comment right there shows that it is.


Posted // September 15,2009 at 13:25

Ever heard of "Free Speech?"

Don't like Buju? DONT GO!

I will have to assume Urban will also be cancelling the Butthole Surfers show? No? Hypocrties?


Posted // September 15,2009 at 22:00 - Speech and commerce are separate things, Realist, though they often overlap. Though I didn't note it above, Johnsdottir explicitly told me she didn't want to censor Buju from all platforms, just this profit-driven platform. Do *I* have a right to write for Salt Lake City Weekly? Were I fired, would that be de facto censorship? Seemingly not. I might have just said something really inappropriate to a coworker. Sometimes, in business, you get fired for offending people. On the other hand, what the censorship-conscious critics of this development should focus on is artistic integrity. I think it's a legitimate, cogent argument to say music venues, art galleries and museums--and newspapers--have duties to free speech that extend well beyond the protections laid out in the 1st Amendment. I don't know how I feel about that exactly. It's a big idea I need to think about more.


Posted // September 15,2009 at 12:53

THANK YOU CITY WEEKLY AND URBAN LOUNGE!!! I am straight and mormon and have been absolutely outraged since I heard this concert was coming to Salt Lake a few weeks ago. I got online today to see if a protest had been organized yet when I saw your good news. Bigotry and hate are not welcome in Utah, and I hope everyone out there does what they can to get the remaining shows cancelled!