Jason Aldean to perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion amid backlash over song, music video

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Jason Aldean, a popular country singer who released a new song that references violence toward people who disrespect America and law enforcement, is coming Thursday to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia.

Aldean, 46, released the single “Try That in a Small Town” in May, followed by a July 14 music video that features footage from Black Lives Matter protests and clips from violent protests outside the United States. In the video, which received 17 million views on YouTube, Aldean sings in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Tennessee, where Henry Choate, a Black teenager, was lynched in 1927.


“Got a gun that my grandad gave me / They say one day they’re going to round up / Well that s--- might fly in the city, good luck,” Aldean sings.

The lyrics go on to warn a person who would “cuss” out and spit in a cop’s face, or stomp on a flag and then light it on fire to “try it in a small town.”


Aldean mentions communities “full of good ol’ boys, raised up right / If you’re looking for a fight / Try that in a small town,” the lyrics continue.

Swift backlash over the song’s video and lyrics led Country Music Television to stop airing the video. Aldean addressed the criticism and CMT’s decision at his concert Friday in Cincinnati. He described the controversy as an example of “cancel culture” and defended his lyrics as an expression of patriotism and love for communities similar to his Georgia hometown.

The controversy comes as Aldean prepares for his upcoming appearance Thursday at Merriweather Post Pavilion. His tour continues Friday in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

“In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song (a song that has been out since May) and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide [Black Lives Matter] protests,” Aldean said in a tweet Tuesday. “These references are not only meritless, but dangerous.

“While I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music — this one goes too far,” he continued.

Aldean has said in recent days that the point of his song was to unite and praise communities that take care of neighbors “regardless of differences of background or belief.”

Willie Flowers, president of the NAACP Maryland State Conference, said he can see how the historical locations, such as Maury County Courthouse, could be offensive.

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Columbia, Tennessee, where the courthouse is located, was also the site of a 1946 race riot. Baltimore’s Thurgood Marshall, then an attorney for the NAACP, helped organize the legal defense.


Flowers said that despite Aldean’s intention, his effort to be sensational and proactive caused friction that further divided people.

“I hope that there is a way for us to have an open conversation, whether it’s through music or [another] lens so that division doesn’t happen and conversations can begin” on topics like race, culture and symbols that trigger conflict, Flowers said.

Responding to a progressive Howard County blogger’s tweet calling on Aldean not to play that song in Columbia, Byron Macfarlane, the county’s register of wills, tweeted that “George Wallace 2.0 isn’t welcome in Columbia, Maryland,” referencing the former Alabama politician and opponent of racial integration.

In defense of the song and criticisms that it promoted gun violence, Aldean mentioned that he performed at a Las Vegas country music festival in 2017 when a mass shooter killed 60 people and injured more than 400.

“As so many pointed out, I was present at Route 91-where so many lost their lives - and our community recently suffered another heartbreaking tragedy. NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart,” Aldean said in the tweet.

A spokesperson for Merriweather Post Pavilion did not respond to multiple requests for comment.