Fuse News: Boston’s Hibernian Hall pulls plug on controversial reggae act

By Noah Schaffer

Capleton --

Capleton — no stranger to controversy.

Dudley Square’s Hibernian Hall has canceled a concert slated for Friday night by a reggae star with a past history of virulently anti-gay lyrics.

Capleton, one of the most popular “conscious” dancehall stars of the past two decades, was slated to play at the venue as part of a rental event being staged by an outside promoter. No stranger to controversy, Capleton has had past concerts cancelled following protests over his recordings, which appear to condone the murder of gays and lesbians.

The hall, which is operated by the non-profit Madison Park Development Corporation, is frequently used by local promoters of music, dance and fashion events.

“Capelton has authored and performed songs that are certainly not in keeping with the mission and/or values of Hibernian Hall and Madison Park Development Corporation,” said Ayanna Hines, Venue Services and Operations Manager for the hall.

“We do not condone speech, music or behavior of any kind that would suggest hatred or violence – physical or psychological – against anyone. Moreover, it is important to us that all people feel welcomed to attend any event open to the public that is held in our venue. After taking into consideration a number of variables relative to this event, the event scheduled for Friday, November 8, 2013 featuring Capelton has been cancelled,” said Hines in a statement.

The statement indicated that the hall had looked into the matter after being contacted by an ArtsFuse writer.

Last year a California concert by Capleton was canceled admit protests. Social media reports of other dates on the tour indicated that no anti-gay songs were performed.

Capelton was among the dancehall stars who signed a 2007 treaty pledging to avoid hate lyrics. But critics have complained that the songs never left Capleton’s stage show — at least when he performs on Jamaican stages.

Hibernian Hall Artistic Director Dillon Bustin noted in an interview that the venue has hosted events sponsored by groups like the AIDS Action Committee and the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition. Next weekend the Theater Offensive will be staging its production of “Jomama Jones ☆ Radiate” at the Hall.

Bustin said that the Hall normally “errs on the side of free speech, and we don’t shy away from controversy,” but that Capleton’s lyrics could be so incendiary that they could incite violence or panic – content which isn’t protected by U.S. free speech laws.

Bustin added that there was not enough time to contact the artist’s management and secure a guarantee that none of Capleton’s anti-gay songs would be performed on Friday night. “We were blind-sighted by this,” he said, noting that the promoter’s paperwork had simply listed the event as a Caribbean dance party. “I found out Capleton was appearing when I saw the ads on Blue Hill Ave.,” said Bustin.

The same promoter which had a space licensing agreement for the Capleton concert was also slated to present a “Trinidad Meets Barbados” dance party and a New Years Eve event at the Hibernian Hall. Bustin said the status of both events is unclear.

Flyers for the Friday and Saturday events were posted on Facebook by Lion Entertainment, but a Lion representative said in an e-mail that it was not the promoter of the Capleton concert. Messages sent to promoter Ivan Forde and Capleton’s management have not yet been replied to.

Over the past 15 years Noah Schaffer has written about otherwise unheralded musicians from the worlds of gospel, jazz, blues, Latin, African, reggae, Middle Eastern music, klezmer, polka and far beyond. He has won over ten awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association.

Posted in


  1. Noah Schaffer on November 7, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Update: Lion Entertainment is assisting with advertising the show but tells ArtsFuse that it is not the originating promoter.

  2. Noah Schaffer on November 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Another update: Several social media outlets are reporting that Capleton is now performing on Sunday night at Kay’s Oasis in Dorchester.

  3. Terrance on November 9, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    A rap or ultra metal group with violent or pro-drug lyrics would have been allowed to perform, in my opinion. But since it offended gays, the concert got cancelled. That tells you who which “politically correct” group gets to decide things nowadays, not just in regard to performances but in the Boston-area print media, TV, and often radio. It reeks of fascism.

  4. Sam Kestu on November 12, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Capleton has a long history of writing and performing songs that call for LGBT people to be killed. Capleton violated his Reggae Compassionate Act agreement in a YouTube video dated December 2007. Capleton’s manager and promoters don’t mention this fact to venues.

    For more information about Capleton see http://bit.ly/11i1SHx

  5. Baba on December 16, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Why did you schedule him in the first place??? Oh to create controversy and get your liberal femi-nazi agenda in the news. Gotcha figured.

    • marcus on December 20, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      Yes Baba, I’m sure you have everything ALL figured out. Perhaps you like to end screeds with an occasional “nuff said” as well, so there’s no need for anyone else to say anything? But how come your fulminating wasn’t written all in caps this time? Is everything ok? And I can see the liberalism (not wanting to kill gay people) in this article, but where’s the feminazi part you’re so upset about, so I can hate that, too

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts