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Performing with minors (not an MJ thread)

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by millard, Apr 8, 2005.

  1. millard


    Jul 27, 2004
    Despite being in Southern California, our band had been struggling to find a decent lead guitarist who is reliable, not too full of him or herself, and drug-free. I guess we're being too demanding. ;)

    Anyway, we hooked up with this kid who is 15. His dad is very supportive of his son's wish to play rock guitar and guarantees that he will bring him to every practice. The kid is a first rate musician (was something of a violin prodigy) and despite playing guitar for only a few years, has put his musical training to very good use. He was in a room with guys old enough to be his dad and it didn't seem to affect him. He seems like a cool kid and we're very much leaning towards accepting him as a band mate.

    HOWEVER, we're concerned that a lot of clubs/bars may not let us play with a minor in the band. I've been told, by someone who is not a lawyer, that minor entertainers can enter such establishments while going straight to or from the stage. Obviously, they can't hang at the bar. I sure hope they are allowed to use the restroom.

    A lot of places are "all ages", but not all of them. Anyone know what the actual law is on this? Any chance you can point to the applicable parts of the code so that I can print them out to support our case when necessary?

  2. metalguy2


    Dec 26, 2004
    I think it should work out.. Bars are usually leaniant torwards things like that if you are in a band playing for them.
  3. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    I would also notify the bar management(not wait staff, etc) in advance before a gig that you have a minor in the band.

    Deal with the issues before you have your gear all set up.
  4. millard


    Jul 27, 2004
    We have no intention of surprising anyone (except the audience). I'm just trying to prepare in case I need to educate the management as to the legality of having a minor on stage.

    I'm not worried about the bar being lenient, I'm worried about them keeping their license so that we can play there again. :)

  5. Zirc


    May 13, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Why would you want to play a place that isn't all ages and alienate your fans? However, most bars won't have a problem. Definitely clear it up before hand.

    The ONLY problem I see with a 15 year old is tour. It's extremely hard to work around high school. However, you might want to get him home schooled or something like that when you go on tour.

    PS - pretty much every bar I know of never checks musician IDs
  6. Legally, I dont think it matters... You can't sell alcohol to a minor, but I don't believe there is any law about a minor being in a place that sells alcohol. I've been to plenty of concerts and baseball games and such that sell alcohol and there are kids running around everywhere. I believe its up to the manager of the venue if they want to admit minors. Most places just don't admit them because it saves trouble at the bar; they don't have to check ID for every purchase, and they dont have to worry about someone buying alcohol for kids in the bar.
  7. millard


    Jul 27, 2004
    We all have day jobs we're keeping, so not really worried about touring issues. Half the guys won't even play any night other than Saturday. I'm hoping they will lighten up after we have a couple good gigs under our belt.

    Meyekul: This being Kalifornia, I wouldn't bet at there _not_ being a law about minors and places that have "bar" licenses rather than "club" or "restaurant" or "ball park" licenses. But you could well be right as the bigger name clubs only serve alcohol (no food) and just put wristbands on people who can be served. We were recently at the Troubadour and took our 11 year old without incident.

  8. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    The laws vary from state to state, municipality to municipality. I'd find out what the local laws are to be on the safe side. Most of the time, a minor is allowed in the bar if they are accompanied by an adult. But, I wouldn't take my word for it.

    Liquor licenses are expensive, and if a bar loses a liquor license because of something like this, it will be very bad PR. Plus some bars have the police come in regularly, just to check things out. This is not one of those things that you just want to sneak by.

    Talk to the bar owner, or local liquor licensing bureau and find out the specifics.
  9. Zirc


    May 13, 2001
    Los Angeles
    OH, and another thing I'd suggest if you're bringing a 15 year old into a bar. Get some kind of chemical mase or pepper spray or something. I'm 19 and for some reason old drunk guys ALWAYS try to start fights with me right after I get done playing. And no, I don't provoke them or even start talking to them.
  10. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    My parents owned a very large Nightclub back in the Midwest.

    The law was (then at least) that a person as young as 16 could perform as long as they didn't aproach the bar and had a Chaparone/Guardian present that was at least 21 (the drinking age there, then). This could be one of the persons in the band.

    I actually was doing it already at 13, but I looked older than I was and never got carded, ever, even when I simply entered a club just to hear a band.
    Ironically, the first time I entered a bar after turning 21.......they carded me.
  11. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Start here:

    Already, you have potential issues in that a 15 year old can only work 3 hours on a school night. Wouldn't matter if it's an all ages joint either. :meh:

    One of the bands I play with here had issues with certain bars, regardless of Washington and Oregon state statutes. When the local pub changed ownership, the policy changed, and the bar owner is seemingly within his rights to bar entry to anyone they choose to. I used to have underage musicians play early at my open mikes, but we had food service for all ages until 9PM at this place anyway. We just got an older drummer, although the kid was arguably better.

    Some states still have cabaret cards, AKAIK, which are a permit applicable to your situation. Not sure about California though, and I hit a few dead ends on Google without finding the goods for you.

    Best of luck, whatever you decide.
  12. millard


    Jul 27, 2004
    Good find, thank you. It brings up some interesting issues -- for one, we don't have any articles of incorporation nor an official partnership agreement. We are essentially each operating as individual proprietors. So we "the band" aren't employing the kid, per se. That may just mean that the kid's parents need to work out the permit stuff.

    For now, we do all original stuff, so working more than 3 hours won't be an issue. We're looking at 30 min and 45 min supporting spots at churn-and-burn clubs where you get maybe 10 minutes to setup and less than that to tear down.

    It's already feeling like a lot of work to get the kid "official"... :(

    Thanks again to everyone. If you have more ideas, keep them coming. The kid deserves a break -- I'm just not sure how hard I'm willing to work or what risks I'm willing to bear to make it happen for him.

  13. Keep in mind that "An Establishment reserves the right to refuse service to anyone." Meaning that, regardless of laws in this or that municipality, it's entirely up to the owners of the establishment whether to admit minors.

    Technically, your guitar player will be in the employ of the establishment, but that could simply be considered the hours/minutes you are actually up on stage playing...meaning that load-in, sound checks and set breaks are not to be considered.

    Illustration: I was 17 in a band playing a club...was carded loading in my amp, and told that I couldn't come in until the set started. My bandmates (who were all of-age) had to load in, set up, soundcheck, etc. without me. During our break...I sat in my car for 15 minutes while the band drank. It was mildly humiliating.

    bear in mind: You can also make it really easy for the club by putting him in a goofy hat and pointing him out to the bouncers, so they don't feel like they have to work too hard babysitting him. Otherwise, many establishments have a wristband system that designates under-agers.
  14. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    It can be a royal pain, but not insurmountable if the kid's parents are on board. I played in two regular working acts when I was 15 and 16. I would spend a day doing reading on local child welfare and labor laws just to make sure you don't get in trouble over some stupid snag.
  15. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Thanks again to everyone. If you have more ideas, keep them coming. The kid deserves a break -- I'm just not sure how hard I'm willing to work or what risks I'm willing to bear to make it happen for him.

    It sounds like you're taking a well considered look at all this, and if he's truly a prodigy, it might be worth a bit of extra effort. At my open mikes, we had a couple of underage country singer kids whose parents were pushing hard to get them some stage time. One's dad tried to overpower us, the other one's parents would hang and buy us a round or two, etc. In both cases, the parents went way out of their way to make it easy for the club on the legal front.

    The "nice" one would jam with other folks, and I sat in with him a few times doing some good ol' boy Southern Rock. Imagine my surprise when my wife tells me he's in the semifinals of American Idol, doing Sweet Home Alabama solo, very credibly playing lead with a Strat, using the exact same arrangement we practiced together. FWIW, both of these guys brought in an adult following (ie paying) when they played, and were a real asset to the club.

    If you're doing short original sets, I think you have better odds of clubs accepting the situation too. Again, best of luck.
  16. millard


    Jul 27, 2004
    All I had to do was read that rather large state of Kalifornia document:

    "Liquor and Lottery Sales

    Persons under 21 may not be employed during business hours in or on that portion of any premises that are primarily designed and used for the sale and service of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises [BPC 25663]. This refers to any activity, not just the sale and service of alcohol. However, person’s 18 to 21 years of age may perform as musicians in such establishments if no live lewd acts are allowed on the premises and if no alcohol is allowed in the musicians’ performance area [BPC 25667]. "

    So if it is primarily a bar that sometimes has musical acts, no dice until the kid is 18 and drinking is prohibited on the stage. If it is primarily a club (performance venue), that also serves drinks, then we should be fine.

    We now need to sort out the work permit issues. The law says that "Minors who are self-employed do not require permits." I couldn't get a real good sense of what the definition of self-employment was, though.

    Tash: I think you can tell that I'm well on my way towards my day's worth of reading. :) I've also forwarded the link the kid and told him to share it with his father, along with my interpretations of where we're at. I figure the dad can check with a lawyer.

    When I find out other stuff that is pertinent, I'll add it here in case it helps anyone else.