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Playing out as a minor

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by klamaz, Jan 25, 2006.

  1. klamaz


    Aug 8, 2004
    You guys seem to be fairly in touch with the buisness of music, so I've got a few questions to ask from the perspective of a minor. I'm 15 years old right now, and I quite love music. I'd really like to start playing out more, but I'm having a bit of trouble. Main trouble is, many serious bands don't want to play with me because of my age(The reason I hear most is liability and trouble from venue owners). The ones that DO want to play with me tend to be farily useless and suck/never go anywhere.
    Perhaps I should add that I'm into jazz and old school funk, which is not terribly popular among musicians of my age group and demographic, so there aren't really other minors to play with. This also limits the networking aspect, due to the fact that I'm not playing at all other than little parties and such.

    So, to the real questions: First off-how much trouble would I really get from a bar/club/other venue manager as a minor who's in the band, especially if I'm the only one?

    Also-I've been thinking about trying to go for some "freelance" style work, doing musical productions, sub work, etc. Am I going to continue meeting a similar fate there of being too young to get any work?

    Any other advice would be welcomed, I'm just trying to get an honest opinion on how older musicians feel about playing with young guys, and the problems I'll encounter trying to play the music I love(As opposed to playing bad generic rock).
  2. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    As an adult there would be NO WAY I would have a minor in my band. In today's litigious society, I would never feel comfortable taking someone elses kid into a bar late at night.

    I think your needs are better served meeting some guys your own age and working with them. It's a great place to start and gives you experience that you will need later in life. No need to be in a rush to play in a working professional band.
  3. AlembicPlayer

    AlembicPlayer Im not wearing shorts

    Aug 15, 2004
    Pacific Northwet, USA
    if you don't drink alcohol, there shouldn't be a problem.
    I worked with my step-son in a band when he was 16 years old, there was never a problem in the clubs.
    I think if you have the opportunity to work with older seasoned players, you should absolutely do it. It will further your chops like nothing else.
    good luck!
  4. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    I have to agree totally. You have years to play out. Liquor licenses are expensive and difficult to come by and very few bar owners are going to mess with that.

    So... check out the church scene. Many churches are having "Praise Bands" or something of that ilk and you could get involved with some really good older players that could help you and provide a decent performance experience.

    Does your school music program offer anything you can be a part of? Community band, theater?

    It's all music. Don't worry if it's not the kind of music that you really want to play, anything will be help if you make the most of it musically. You won't get pimples or get shorter if you play C+W or Easy Jesus.

    I sympathize with you ... I wouldn't want to be 15 years old again. No way. But remember what Nieschze said, "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger"... if you pay attention!
  5. plexibass


    Jun 30, 2005
    a lot of it depends on the following:
    1] are you playing in a BAR that serves food?
    2] are you playing in a RESTARAUNT that serves alchohol?

    there is a legal difference. if 1, i highly doubt that you would be allowed through the front door. if 2 then no problem. the difference is the % of sales attributed to alchohol. we do live in a sue happy society so even if your parents came with you to every gig you may just have to play with guys your own age for now. i was teching for bands when i was 18 in bars but NEVER got carded. i had really long hair, elvis sized sideburns and always walked in carrying a guitar. i'm 36 now. 15 i dont think there is much hope. sorry man.
  6. I used to play out quite a lot as a minor, and never once had a problem. I suppose it depends on where you live, though. In my case, they just put big X's on my hands, or stamps, or whathaveyou, and didn't ask questions. This may just be a NYS thing.
  7. Maverick Blues

    Maverick Blues Being a Thumper is all about ATTITUDE!

    Apr 28, 2005
    Richmond, VA
    Sadly, Virginia is rather restrictive and narrow-minded as a rule. We don't even have what many people would consider "bars" here. :rolleyes:

    klamaz, I'm an old fart, but if you have da funk and your head's screwed on straight (which sounds the case), I wouldn't have a problem being in a band with you (or anyone else with similar qualifications). Chronological age doesn't matter much compared to how you feel and how you approach life.

    'course, the lawmakers see it differently...

    I wish you luck. Fortunately you're almost "on the cusp" and you only have to deal with this garbage for a few more years.

    Hang in there,

    P.S. If you don't mind saying, where in Virginia are you?
  8. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    First of all, good job on being past the Nirvana and Green Day stage. I would love to have a 15 year old bassist who loves jazz in my high school jazz band.

    Now... the age issue. That's a tough one, my friend. Initially, you've got the issue of finding a group to play with. I'm 24, and I even get stuck with the age issue when auditioning for bands who are in their 30s and 40s.

    I did play out with my sister when she was 14 or 15 in a bar or two. In my experience, bar owners will typically have a "don't screw me, I won't screw you" attitude. Most of the time, they will "assume" that you're 18 and treat you as such. I don't know exactly what the law in your area says about minors performing in bars, so I can't speak to that.

    Having worked with minors before, though, I personally won't deal professionally with anyone under 18. It's just the whole parent dynamic that gets in the way a lot. Even if the kid is the most levelheaded in the world (and you appear to be quite mature and devoted for any age), the parents might have an issue with me taking their son out on the road for the weekend. The first time that your bassist is grounded the night of a big gig is rather annoying as well.

    True story - I was a freshman in high school leading a rock band. Our bassist was a sophomore from an extremely conservative Christian family. We decided as a band to play for a battle of the bands. Two days before, bassist's mother calls me and tells me that she and her husband saw the botb as a "self promotion" and a "glorification of ourselves" and they decided not to let their son play. Fun.

    So on that road, you might be in trouble. Check with your local college. We had a kid in my college jazz band who played trombone in there for two years while still in high school. A lot of times, people won't even give young players a chance to do freelance work. Just take all the gigs you can, any way you can get them, and let those networking points work for you.

    Good luck!
  9. mmg


    Nov 7, 2005
    Boston, MA
    get a fake ID. i use my older bro's ID(its an actual legit ID though) for getting into 18+ shows, but if you can get a good fake you should be fine. most bouncers(or bar owners probably) don't know what out of state IDs look like so get one from out of state.
  10. BAD IDEA!

    You want a future as a musician, not as an inmate.

    You say you do this for getting into shows. That's completely different than BEING the show. As audience, what's the worst that can happen? You don't get to see / finish seeing the show. As the musician, you could let down your audience, your bandmates, your paycheck, and your future.

    Not worth it.
  11. As a minor, I got in all the time when we played at bars/nightclubs But only for set-up and the show then I had to leave. And I wasn't allowed to hang out in the bar area and had to stay in the "greenroom". That was a few years ago, before everyone got so sue happy.
  12. klamaz


    Aug 8, 2004
    Thanks for all the opinions. I can definatley understand all the perspectives. And, to the suggestions to play other places, I do. I play in school bands, church bands, and I do have a few people around my age to play with. I'm just getting somewhat frustrated with the fact that there isn't much oppritunity to really expand myself musically in these situations. But yeah, I can understand all the points on the risk of parents restrictions(Something I don't actually have a probelm with too much), as well as bar owners, etc.
    And, it's not so much that I want to be in a working professional band, I just want to be playing/preforming music that I like with musicians who are good enough and serious enough to really play and expand myself, as well as just get the chance to expand my experience past lackluster high school musicians who aren't dedicated(The ones I've met seem to be either mediocre or completley unreliable). This is not to say that I am opposed to working with others my age, since I'm ending up doing that anyway. It just seems difficult to find young competant musicians into similar stuff as me.
    I'm definatley not going with the fake ID route...That can get me in more trouble that it's worth I think.
    Maverick- Good point about being "on the cusp"-I'm taking solace in the fact that even if I don't get out there immediatley, in just I few years I'll be able to play out easier, and I can at least use this time to focus on my playing itself. And I live in the far west end of Richmond.

    And, for the record, I'm not really speaking just as a bassist(though that's getting progressivley more important to me), as I'm actually primarily a drummer, but this fourm seemed to be the place with the most mature and professional userbase, the reason I chose to ask here.

    Anyway, thanks for the replies, it's nice getting some honest insight into the people that I'm dealing with.
  13. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Granted, I'm an old bugger now, but I started playing in clubs when I was 12 years old. At that time, here in NJ, they had a thing called an ABC card (alcohol beverage commission) that was basically a license that allowed me into bars to play. I'm not really sure if such a thing exists anymore, I got the card in 1963 (man, I am old :rolleyes: ).

    In order to get the card, my parents had to accept certain responsibility for my actions (that I wouldn't drink or attempt to drink). Like someone said, in today's law-suit happy climate, this type of card/license may not even be available anymore. But it may be worth asking the question in your area ....... :cool:
  14. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    You are a well-spoken and articulate young man. I commend you for your desire to become a more well-rounded musician. Good luck in your ventures.

    Of course, if you would have told us you were a drummer in the first place, we wouldn't have even spoken to you. ;)
  15. klamaz


    Aug 8, 2004
    That was uncalled for. Mabye I should just stop talking to you because you guys have usually around 11 voices tops on your insturment, and I've got around 20(Drumsets are always bigger than basses). Plus, when behind the drums, I don't even need amplification to destroy a mix.

    And, I never said I was ONLY a drummer. I'm primarily one in experience only, and the bass is steadily growing on me, and hopefully me on it.
  16. Maverick Blues

    Maverick Blues Being a Thumper is all about ATTITUDE!

    Apr 28, 2005
    Richmond, VA
    Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, klamaz. He was joking -- note the smiley? :)

    It's all good. Drummers are brothers in arms, anyway. Can't really have da funk without both drums and bass, eh?

  17. klamaz


    Aug 8, 2004
    Don't fear, I was joking too(Hopefully you don't think so low of drummers as to presume we really think lower of basses becasue they are smaller than drumsets?)
    Yes, both drums and bass are integral to almost any groove oriented music.
  18. I always got my fake ID on me in case. In my experiences I haven't been asked, hell, I've been into smoke shops and porn shops without being IDed. but hey if ya look older than you really are, then you might have no problem.
  19. jacko spades

    jacko spades

    Jan 9, 2006
    Central FL
    My drummer just turned 16, and we usually go by the don't ask don't tell policy - the venues rarely ask to see the ID of a band member and he looks older than his age so we don't voluenteer the info.
  20. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Did you REALLY think it was wise to admit to a federal offense in a public forum?

    Really? :bag: