Young musicians may have fewer restrictions

By Joy Priest

Pretty soon 18-year-old musicians and band crewmembers may be able to enter a nightclub establishment.

If you’re an underage band member, you’re probably sick and tired of having a limited number of venues to play in around Lexington.

With the passage of House Bill 263, proposed by the Lexington Area Music Alliance, this annoyance just got one step closer to being eliminated for bands all across town.

“We have a problem with artist development in the Lexington market,” LAMA co-founder Tom Martin said. “Young players are not being able to play for live audiences … because anyone under 20 isn’t allowed.”

This bill, designated as “an act relating to musical performances,” would “allow a person who is 18 to 21 years of age and employed as a musician or technician with a band or musical group to remain on the premises where alcoholic beverages are sold or consumed if the band or group has a verbal or written contract to perform on that date.”

The bill appears to have stalled amidst other bills in the Senate and it may have to wait until next year, Martin said.

Martin said efforts to pass the bill will continue in order to help developing young musicians.

“[The goal] is to open up the Lexington market to younger artist development and give them the opportunity to experience live-playing in a venue,” Martin said.

Local business owner T.J. Gordon says he’s all for the bill and thinks it shows great promise for the local music scene which he describes as “struggling.” He feels more bands and more variety would really amp up the local scene.

“It would be easy to regulate,” Gordon said. “We could just hand out different wrist bands and make sure they don’t drink. Usually owners are aware of who’s in a band.

Donald Mason, a board member of LAMA and a band member himself as the front man for local group Soul Funkin’ Dangerous, is a self-proclaimed champion for underage musicians and music lovers. He is excited about the progress of the bill.

“The House Bill 263 is a step forward for underage musicians, sound techs and music business related persons to be allowed in venues that restrict entry at 21,” Mason said. “This helps create opportunities to show their skills and talents without the burden of being 21.”

This piece of legislation sponsored by Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, D-Fayette, which was passed by the House of Representatives on Feb. 18, now sits in the state Senate, where it has been assigned to the Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee.

LAMA got started in early 2010 by a group of local musicians and music business owners who met through LexJam, according to Martin.

LAMA works to organize a sector of the local economy around the performance or production of music locally, according to its website.

LAMA will meet this Saturday at Natasha’s Bistro & Bar at 11 a.m. to discuss this current piece of legislation, as well as additional endeavors underway to support local music. The floor will be open to members of the local music community.