LINN — Walworth County LGBT leaders are calling for a boycott of a musical concert featuring performers whose message has been criticized as racist and homophobic.
Zenda Tap, a tavern at N560 Zenda Road, is planning a concert Aug. 24 by performers known as Adam Calhoun and Demun Jones, rap-style artists who tour under the banner of “Crazy White Boy.”
Their tour has had shows canceled in California and Oklahoma after activists in both communities complained that the performers use foul-mouthed lyrics that foster hate.
LGBT of Walworth County is urging a boycott of the Zenda Tap show out of concern that the musical performances could promote violence.
Jody Rendall, director of the LGBT group, said she has seen song lyrics from Adam Calhoun and Demun Jones that are laced with profanity and hateful rhetoric aimed at racial minorities and gay people.
“They’re hateful. They’re derogatory. And what I find scary is, they’re inciteful,” Rendall said. “It’s everything that you hear about on the news about extremists.”
LGBT of Walworth County has posted on its Facebook page a message urging followers to boycott the Zenda Tap concert.
Another member of the group’s board of directors, Charlotte Lesure, said she hopes people support the boycott as a way of showing that Walworth County does not embrace hate speech.
“I would hope that people would recognize that this is not the type of event we need,” Lesure said. “We need tolerance.”
Zenda Tap owner Jose Hernandez said he was not familiar with the musicians, but he would take steps to ensure that their performance Aug. 24 is not racist or homophobic. “I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he said.
Steve Rowe, a promoter involved in the show, said there are no plans to cancel the Adam Calhoun and Demun Jones performance.
Rowe said he disagrees that the performers espouse racism, although he acknowledged that some of their messages are anti-LGBT.
Still, he said, the performers are musical artists who have a right to express themselves the way they want.
“I’m here to put on a concert and put on a show,” he said. “I’m not here to tell anybody what to think.”
‘Very P.C.’ culture
Calhoun, who is based near Chicago, denied that his music is hate speech, saying that criticism comes from “a small radical group” of people who are practicing political correctness.
“We live in a culture that’s very P.C.,” he said. “If you speak your mind and it goes against anything that the far left believes, you’re the problem.”
Tickets for the Zenda Tap concert were selling for up to $38 a person.
The tavern’s outdoor garden can accommodate about 1,500 people, which means the show could generate more than $50,000 in admission fees.
A similar show scheduled in May at a tavern in Sacramento, Calif., was canceled after protests about Adam Calhoun and Demun Jones’ musical message.
The same thing happened in mid-June in Oklahoma City, Okla., after similar protests surfaced.
Linn Police Chief James Bushey said he has heard concerns about the Zenda Tap show, and he is working to gather information about it. Bushey said he could order the concert canceled if he believes there would be a risk to public safety.
Bushey said there have been other musical performances that drew crowds to Zenda Tap, and the tavern operators have been able to avoid any serious problems.
“They always seem to have their ducks in a row,” he said.
Part of the issue in Sacramento was that the controversial concert was scheduled at the same time that the California city’s LGBT community was celebrating Pride Week to support gay people.
The concert at Zenda Tap is scheduled one week after LGBT of Walworth County’s annual Pride Fair festival, which is planned for Aug. 17 in Elkhorn.
In calling for a boycott of the Zenda Tap concert on Aug. 24, LGBT leaders are urging their supporters not to show up at the town of Linn tavern or to attempt any sort of protest or confrontation.
“Please spread the word to boycott this event,” the group posted, “and if you’re in the area, contact people to encourage that this event be canceled.”
Rendall said she is a town of Linn resident and is attempting to reach town officials about the concert.
The town controls the liquor license for Zenda Tap.
Rowe, whose business is called 25/8 Entertainment, said he and others involved in the concert are local residents, too, and that they have organized previous events to raise money for charitable causes.
“I live in this community. I donated money to this community,” he said. “We will not be shut down.”
Of the call for a boycott or cancellation of the concert, he said: “I find this really extreme.”