Billy Currington is out, but Chase Bryant is staying put. That’s the latest news surrounding the charity concert happening at the Infinity Theater in Hartford, Connecticut on July 17th as part of Tim McGraw’s upcoming Shotgun Rider concert tour.
On Monday (April 13th), Tim McGraw announced the Connecticut show would be a benefit with 100% of the proceeds going to Sandy Hook Promise—a non-profit set up in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre. This stimulated conservative news site Brietbart to post a story politicizing the tour stop as a “Gun Control Fundraiser,” and causing Billy Currington to back out after a backlash ensued with some fans, including some labeling McGraw and Currington as “un-American,” “socialists,” and calling for a boycott of their music.
Tim McGraw has since reaffirmed his commitment to the concert. “Let me be clear regarding the concert for Sandy Hook given much of the erroneous reporting thus far. As a gun owner, I support gun ownership. I also believe that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children. I can’t imagine anyone who disagrees with that.”
Tim McGraw has personal ties to the Sandy Hook story. His touring fiddle player Dean Brown is a long-time friend of Mark Barden, whose child was killed in the mass shooting, and who is also one of the founders of Sandy Hook Promise.
Chase Bryant was the other opener for the Sandy Hook benefit show with Billy Currington. The Broken Bow-signed artist was initially not as much of a target of gun rights advocates, possibly because of his fairly unknown status. Bryant just started his country career in 2013, and has yet to release a full-length album. His single “Take It On Back” reached #16 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
Though Chase has not made a public statement about the controversy, conservative news site Brietbart confirmed the news that he will play the show in another post that smacks of click-baiting and political headhunting, and makes no mention of Sandy Hook Promise’s primary goal of helping to spread awareness about the mental health issues surrounding the gun debate, and focusing more on private sector work instead of political action. Instead of conveying all the facts to readers, writer AWR Hawkins is using fear to drive web traffic to Brietbart, and whip gun rights activists into a frenzy to attack Chase Bryant and Tim McGraw for their perceived political beliefs.
“Sandy Hook Promise supports the 2nd Amendment and is not anti-gun,” the organization said in a statement amidst the controversy. “We recognize an individual’s right to bear arms and support millions of law-abiding citizens in the United States who own firearms. Our primary focus is preventing children from being harmed by gun violence. Our programs encompass things like community-based prevention, supporting social and emotional learning in schools, teaching Mental Health First Aid, teaching kids how to be inclusive at school, and helping people to know the signs of someone who may be in a mental crisis.”
Though some of Sandy Hook Promise’s work could be considered gun control by some, the organization insists they are a, “Gun-safety advocacy group that focuses on parents’ love for their kids rather than on politics.” Briebart claims they support Oregon Senate Bill 941, which attempts to make private sellers of arms screen buyers before sales. Sandy Hook Promise posted positively about a successful vote on the measure on their Facebook page, but it’s undetermined if the organization materially supported the bill with financial support or lobbying.
No word on if Billy Currington will be replaced for the charity concert.