Originally Published: Oct. 19, 2009, 4:04 p.m.
Updated: Oct. 31, 2009, 2:12 a.m.

Based out of southwest Virginia, Matt Boswell is a popular performer for several Piedmont area events, clubs and other venues.
Based out of southwest Virginia, Matt Boswell is a popular performer for several Piedmont area events, clubs and other venues.

REIDSVILLE, N.C. — City officials have banned future performances by a popular regional Country band after the group sang an anti-gay rendition of a classic Merle Haggard song at a local festival.

Reidsville officials hired Matt Boswell and the Hillbilly Blues Band to sing at their fall festival, held at Market Square in the city’s downtown area on Saturday, Oct. 10. Local news station WGSR 47 broadcast the event live.

In his rendition of Haggard’s “Are the Good Times Really Over for Good?”, Boswell sang, “Well you’ll never take my guns, and I’ll pray anywhere that I please./My daddy always told me, if you were able, and didn’t work then you don’t eat./All you Wall Street bankers, as far as I’m concerned, you can all go to Hell./And you can’t get married, you stupid gays and queers, so why don’t you go somewhere else?”

A viewer later emailed the station asking that anti-gay lyrics be stripped from future broadcasts.

Reidsville City Manager Kelly Almond told Q-Notes the language used by Boswell was “tasteless.”

“It was absolutely unacceptable and certainly unacceptable at a city-owned venue and city-sponsored event,” he said.

Almond also said the employees in charge of booking public events have been “instructed not to book [Boswell] again,” with similar thoughts echoed in an email to WGSR 47: “I can assure everyone involved that, if this language was used, this person, or anyone representing him, will not play another city event. Market Square, and indeed all city venues, are places meant to bring people together, not divide them. We certainly support tasteful, patriotic acts. We also have to respect everyone’s Free Speech rights. However, we don’t have to pay for it or include it in a city sponsored event, and we will not.”

Two city council members told Greensboro’s News & Record they support Almond’s decision.

“If he (Boswell) wants to stand on the street corner and say that, that’s one thing,” Councilman W. Clark Turner told the daily paper. “But to say it in a city-sponsored event — that is altogether a different thing.”
Councilwoman Joan Zdanski said she would have been even more upset if Almond had known about the situation and taken no action.

“If he became aware of that and didn’t do something, then I would say that would be a problem,” Councilwoman Joan Zdanski said.

Boswell is a frequent performer at several Piedmont-area event venues and clubs stretching from southwest Virginia to Greensboro, N.C. Q-Notes was unable to find contact information for Boswell and his agent did not return calls seeking comment.

The City of Reidsville is located north of Greensboro in Rockingham County and has less than 15,000 residents. The city does not include sexual orientation or gender-identity in its non-discrimination policy for city employees.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

27 replies on “City bans Country performer after anti-gay lyrics”

  1. How embarrassing for Heterosexuals.

    Always screaming your heads off about morality, while acting in the most immoral ways toward the ‘queers’ YOU created.

    Hopefully, these bigoted musicians do not have children whose young minds are being poisoned by bigotry and hatred.

    Morality indeed, Matt Boswell and the Hillbilly Blues Band.

    Morality, indeed.

  2. I applaud Reidsville city manager, Kelly Almond, for his stance of banning a performer, who I’m sure, in his mind, was supposedly entertaining a group of people by using the phrase “stupid gays and queers” and whatever else he said. I’m sure that Merle Haggard would be honored that someone would perform one of his songs, but I think he would be appalled that this Matt Boswell would interject his own lyrics to divide people with bigotry and hate.

    Reidsville is a very small town, and I’ve always been told that small towns breed small minds. But for the city manager of such a small town to say that their venues are meant to bring people together instead of dividing them – and that type of performing will not be tolerated – indicates to me that maybe this country is progressing along..even if its baby steps. Thank you, Mr. Almond!

    And to Matt Boswell, like the old saying goes, your tongue can dig a hole deep enough that you can’t get out of. Take notice of that. Seems like if that fact hasn’t sunk in your seemingly small brain and mind, it sure has hit you in your wallet.

    Bye bye, Matt Boswell and the Hillbilly Blues Band!

  3. I find it interesting that many of the smaller cities and towns in NC contain people who are not afraid to stand up for what is right. And then there’s Charlotte…


    Isn’t it about time that someone stands up to bigots and say enough is enough? It gets under my skin that so-called “performers” think they can take liberties with people’s lives and say anything on a stage and call it entertainment. Most people just sit back and do nothing. But for a man who is the city manager of a small town in the south to take a stand and say NO to bigotry – that says a lot!

    I notice on Matt Boswell’s Myspace page that he performs some in Greensboro at places like Arizona Pete’s. I challenge my gay brothers and sisters to start avoiding this place, and if you do go there, to mention to the managers that they allowing a bigot to perform there. If they employ a man who slings out the words “stupid queers” for entertainment value, then our gay and lesbian dollars should be spent elsewhere. Saying no says a lot when it hits businesses in their wallets.

    I hate to sound cliche, but each journey starts with small steps. It looks like Reidsville is well on their way. The citizens there should be proud of their city manager.

    Kudos, Reidsville! Stand tall!

  5. I’m proud to call Reidsville my birthplace and doubly proud Kelly took a positive stance against this blatant homophobic performer!

  6. People with narrow-minded views such as Boswell’s should not be in the public eye. I hope his career as a musician is over if he doesn’t do some soul searching.

  7. Is it just me, or do others notice than whenever “country folk” are in videos, town hall meetings or what have you, they seem to be the population that raises everyone else’s insurance premiums because they are do fat and unhealthy.

    I don’t care what this man sings….he probably is a closet case, but it seems to me….these “Red” staters are the fattest in America and that should not go unnoticed.

  8. To Corey… Ummm, in case you didn’t notice, NC went blue in 2008. It almost went blue in elections before that. We’ve got one Dem Senator and a majority of our House reps our Dem. Our state legislature, gov’s office and judicial branch: All Dems.

    We aren’t the “Red” state ignorant ass Northerners and Left Coasties think we are. Perhaps if you got out of your “blue state” vs “red state” mentality and didn’t look at all Southerners with contempt you’d realize we arne’t all bad… and that good people like the Reidsville city manager is standing up for all peple, including LGBT people.

  9. Oh, and Corey, good job with the sizism. Clearly, overweight people are evil and don’t deserve to live.

  10. Wow! Watching the video of this so-called performance made me want to scream. Did that fiddle sound like someone was standing on a cat’s tail or what? And what’s with Señor Haystacks and that dialect..and the proverbial “thank ya vurry much” at the end. What the hell is that about?

    Maybe the best part of the video is this crowd. While they all looked like they just left a taping of the Springer show, did you notice the NON-REACTION of them? They looked a little bored with Señor Haystacks and the Hillillies. Either they were bored or agree with this clown.

    The only real reaction I saw to his song was after he said the “stupid gays and queers” part was from the woman in the red shirt and overalls who stands there and claps. You know, the one that looks like she just polished off five trips to the Golden Corral all-you-can-eat buffet. Pitiful.

    Wonder why Boswell isn’t issuing any statements about how he stands by God, Momma, the flag, guns, the Iraq war, George W., apple pie and hound dogs? Oh, and how proud he is to be a breeder. Can’t forget that.

  11. well, well, I see we will be the death of free speech soon, I can only hope that the other side start calling us out for the things we call them , l like those comment about the full figure woman clapping her hands in the video that was left at Pams house blend… An you wonder why their claim we are taking over and forcing things on them..

    get the f-over being call a damn fag or dyke..

  12. Dear SickNTired = Could you translate what you just said so the rest of us can know just what the hell you’re talking about?

  13. Yeah, sickntired. And those black folk ought to get over being called “n*gger” too. The nerve o’ dem peeple, axin’ for repect.

    Just how dumb are you? People can ‘free speech’ all they want, but the city has the same right to say that insults, derogatory terms, and blatant hate won’t be subsidized by city funds, especially when those city funds more than likely were partly financed by a couple of gay men or women.

    What if I took a bunch of cash from, oh, say, the Christian Coalition, and used it to launch my new show about christ clowns, religitards, and a nice class on how perform satanic rituals?

    Are they required to tolerate that because I have free speech rights?

    I don’t think so and neither do you.

    If these people weren’t so hateful we wouldn’t have to force things on them, would we.

    What I don’t understand is why your sympathies lie with some redneck who would obviously like to see you dead or damaged just because of how you have sex.

    How far does it have to go before you think it’s enough? If he punched you in the face? “Free speech! I hate queers!”

  14. It pains me that so many people, such as Tom, do not understand the basics of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

    It allows people like this alleged this singer to say what they want, for the most part.

    It does not require a government or private entity to hire people to say mean things.

    Same thing with online comments. People can feel a right to say what they wish, but that does not require others to read them or respond to them.

  15. So refreshing to see public officials do the right thing.
    I just sent Mr. Almond a “hi-five” message.
    Great job

  16. What pains me the most is liberals always crying about how it hurt that feelings. Grow some “you know whats” and get over it….. The PC limit has been reached and far exceeded where it needs to be.

  17. Tom, no one is denying him his first amendment rights. The city has said that they will not hire him again. He is free to go to any private venue that is willing to hire him. Just like we are free to not patronize that venue if we want.

  18. Erich and David:

    You’re really beating a dead horse with Tom. He’s probably some of those southern Virginia “hillbilly” supporters who can’t get enough of Matt Boswell and now place him on some pedestal because he’s a big boy and can say queer all on his own. Just this morning we were discussing this very story and someone said..whatever happened to free speech? I said nothing, but theres a difference is saying it on a street corner or anywhere else and being PAID by a CITY to say it at a FAMILY concert event. The response was..oh wait, the city was paying him to sing? When I replied yes..the response then became..well is the boy an idiot or what?

    So see Erich and David..sometimes it takes a while for the water to soak in the soil..and it takes time for some of these nitwits (no offense Tom) to get it through the granite they call a skull.

    Now I would encourage Tom to go back to whatever cave he comes from and let that sink in for awhile.

  19. OH! By the way. The Reidsville City Council is standing behind city manager, Kelly Almond, in his decision to ban Matt Boswell.

    From the Greensboro News & Record: Reidsville City Council members said they stand behind Almond’s decision and applauded his quick response.

    “If he became aware of that and didnt do something, then I would say that would be a problem,” Councilwoman Joan Zdanski said. Zdanski said she appreciates freedom of speech but said it carries with it responsibility.

    Councilman W. Clark Turner agreed with her.

    “If he (Boswell) wants to stand on the street corner and say that, thats one thing,” Turner said. “But to say it in a city-sponsored event — that is altogether a different thing.”

    Good to see that Mr. Almond is getting backed by his council – and they too will not allow bigots to perform just so a few people can get off on hearing some so-called performer feel like a big boy by saying the word queer.

    Applause is in order for these people!

  20. As not only a member of the GLBT community but also the self-proclaimed Queen of Country Cooking, I’m not only offended as a “stupid gay and queer” but as a Proud Redneck. I am sick of these Fox News ditto heads making us country folk look like racist, ignorant, close minded gay bashing idiots. I have TONS of friends and fans from all over the country especially Oklahoma (the so called “Buckle of the Bible Belt”) and they all love and support the GLBT community. There is a name for people like Matt but it ain’t Redneck. It’s asshole.

  21. The guy is a jerk; plain and simple. And stupid, too. He has eclipsed his artistic talent with ugly behavior …. and that’s how he will be remembered by many.

  22. I wonder if Tom and his ilk had the same opinion when the Dixie Chicks were ridiculed, bashed & banned for their comment about being “embarrassed to be from the same state as George Bush”? Good or bad “free speech” has it’s consequences.

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