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California law and musicians under 21

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bassguppy, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. Can anyone give insight regarding musicians under the age of 21 performing in clubs, bars, events that serve alcohol? Looking at California in particular.

    I played in bars when I was under age but that was 20+ years ago. Thanks!!
  2. MakiSupaStar

    MakiSupaStar The Lowdown Diggler

    Apr 12, 2006
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Well, I've had guys sit in with my band that were under 21. I pretty much play in bars. One guy was 17. No one batted an eye, although, he wasn't trying to drink in there either.
  3. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    It used to be that if an establishment sold food, it could be considered a restaurant that also sold alcoholic beverages, and a minor could legally be on premises. If it was clearly a bar, with only incidental food sales, minors could not be on the premises.

    I was able to play in lots of places before I was 21 that served food and booze, but the establishments had to be very careful to assure the number of drinks on the table never exceeded the number of adults in attendance. Playing bars was out of the question because doing so would jeopardize the bar owner's liquor license.
  4. Any place that serves food or is 18 and over doesn't mind, as long as said member is over 18. Most places however might not give you the gig or may have the member that's underage wait outside till showtime, go play, and go outside immediately afterwards. (Was 20 when it happened to me.) As long as their over 18 they should be fine.
  5. Band Dad

    Band Dad

    Dec 5, 2006
    San Mateo, CA
    I believe that under the right controls, drinking establishments can admit under-age performers. My son has played a number of bars when as young as fourteen/fifteen. There is sometimes the older wink-and-a-nod cooperation between owners and the law. Other times, the controls were extremely tight.
  6. Rick Auricchio

    Rick Auricchio Registered Bass Offender

    I had looked this up several months ago.

    1. If you are under 18, there is nothing you can do. You must stay out if it's a bar.

    2. At ages 18-20, you can play, but must leave to a separate area during breaks. You may remain onstage, but only if it is three feet high. No good if it's just a short riser stage. You may not mingle with the crowd at all.
  7. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    This one's a joke, right? The height of the stage determines if you can stay on during a break? That sounds like something out of Spinal Tap's rider.

    OTOH if it is California somehow I believe it.

    This thread reminds me of the first bar gig I ever played. I was 17, senior in high school, it was a bowling alley lounge and I had just come from playing my basketball game, walked in in my HIGH SCHOOL LETTER JACKET and wondered why they wouldn't let me in. LOL, so naive. A couple of the other band members (who were all of age) had to come over and vouch for me.
  8. Rick Auricchio

    Rick Auricchio Registered Bass Offender

    I found the regulations:

    CA ABC608

    CA ABC533


    Musicians who are at least age 18 but not yet 21 can be employed in all types of on-sale premises, only if the following conditions exist:
    (a) There is no topless or nude entertainment, either live or on film;
    (b) The area of employment is restricted for the exclusive use of musicians and entertainers;
    (c) No alcohol is sold, served, or consumed in the restricted entertainment area;
    (d) The restricted area is readily identifiable. It must be a room, a stage, or an area bounded by partitions or other barriers at least 30 inches high;
    (e) While performing, the musician must remain in the restricted area.

    At a bar or tavern (license Type 42, 48, or 61) the minor musician must remain in the restricted area at all times, except when:
    (a) Entering or leaving the premises,
    (b) Setting up equipment,
    (c) Visiting restrooms,
    (d) Resting or changing clothing in a room which is not used for sale, service, or consumption of alcohol by the public,
    (e) Auditioning when the place is not open for business.
    An entertainer is a musician if the bulk of his or her performance involves making music with an instrument or his or her voice.

    There is no provision for those under age 18. No parent/guardian exceptions either. There is no "ABC card" or license available for those under 21.

    The stage height thing is the 30 inches mentioned above. If the stage is not 30 inches high (or there's some type of barrier between the performance area and the rest of the venue), then the minor must leave the room. (EDIT: It's possible that "stage" in that sentence could be interpreted to mean a low riser, as long as the minor did not leave it during breaks.)

    A venue may have tighter restrictions than the law due to insurance requirements. I would ask the owner but not trust anyone else's answer.

    Disclaimers: I am not a lawyer. I didn't write the regulations, but my tax dollars probably paid for them.
  9. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    OK, I stand corrected - apparently the stage height thing is legit.

    I did get a kick out of this definition...

    "An entertainer is a musician if the bulk of his or her performance involves making music with an instrument or his or her voice."

    How many holes could any of us punch in that?! Kinda seems to beg the question of, "what is music?"
  10. "An entertainer is a musician if the bulk of his or her performance involves making music with an instrument or his or her voice."

    Oh well - so much for drummers! :D
  11. ErebusBass


    Feb 20, 2008
    Madison, WI
    I'm reading that one differently. I'm not getting that the stage has to be high, I'm getting that if there's not a stage, the "barriers" need to be 30 inches high.
  12. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    In my experience............

    If the establishment serves food and has entertainment, it's cool but he CANNOT sit at the bar nor can he buy, drink or be served alcohol! He must stay in the designated stage/performance area or dining area

    If it's just a bar (no food, no entertainment) he ain't supposed to be in there...period!
  13. nixdad


    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    My son has been a working bass player in CA since he was 14, and has been playing in bars since he was 16 (he'll be 20 next month.) He has always played with guys that are several years older than him. I was fortunate enough to be involved in managing 3 of the bands that he was involved with (usually because no one else already in the band had any business or marketing experience,) as well as the fact that I love to hear my son perform.

    If I was doing the booking, I always made sure to mention that there was 1 player who was under 18, as I'm a big believer in setting expectations accordingly, and did not want any surprises when we got to the gig. Some venues were very tight and insisted he wait outside until they were ready to set up (Viper Room, Cat Club - he'd have to remain on stage at that point,) and he had to exit immediately upon completion of their set. Other bars were much more casual, and did not care as long as he was in a booth or anywhere away from the bar. In all cases I assured whoever did the booking that he would be properly supervised and that he was well aware of the regulations. Playing a 21+ joint is a priviledge, and not a right for a young player, so it's very important that they behave accordingly if they want to have the ability to perform at the same joint again.
  14. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Nixdad - your son must be a helluva bass player. Congratulations! He also is very fortunate to have a dad like you looking out for his interests.
  15. nixdad


    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Jaywa -
    Thanks for the kind comments. He is a very solid player, and brings a lot to the table. I'm the one who's very fortunate.
  16. Rick Auricchio

    Rick Auricchio Registered Bass Offender

    I agree.

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