I’m going to hear Laura Marling a few hours from now at Live Wire Music Hall.

Marling is just 22 and has already made a huge name for herself — she even won a Brit Award in 2011 as best solo female artist.

Despite the obvious appeal of her youth and her folk-y sound, Marling’s audience will almost all be older than she is. There’s a simple and absurd reason for that: since Live Wire is a bar, 18-20 year old adults aren’t even allowed to set foot inside. Not even for an early, subtle show like this on a Wednesday night. Not even if their parents were with them. Not even if they pay more at the door. Not even if they have big X’s on both hands so that staff will know immediately if they’re drinking and shouldn’t be.

So what will those 18-20 year olds do tonight? Who knows?

Those young but legal adults certainly won’t be in a safe place under the watchful eye of experienced servers who could lose their jobs if underage patrons were found drinking. But they might drive to other cities where they’re welcomed into such places — like Statesboro, Charleston, Athens, and so forth and so on.

Or they might just drive around. Or they might just party among friends. Those are safer options, huh?

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Live Wire earlier this year. We’re all so much safer since 18-20 year olds couldn’t see and hear this band, huh?

I know, I know — I’ve written about this before. So I’ll turn it over to Raine Blunk writing in SCAD’s student newspaper District. In For Savannah’s music scene, underage ban is getting old fast, Blunk talks about going to shows with other 18 to 20 year olds at The Music Farm in Charleston and then returns to the central issue in Savannah:

While perusing the crowd before the show started, I ran into a lot of kids from Savannah who had made the hour and a half drive to Charleston to see the 18+ show. Bands like Beats Antique certainly don’t show their faces in Savannah very often. But really, “Savannah’s music scene sucks!” is something I hear from fellow underage Savannahians a lot—especially because we are a city positioned between major music hubs like Athens, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Charleston.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that Savannah passed a law in 2005 that has forbidden local music halls like The Wormhole and LiveWire to allow 18 – 20-year-olds inside because they serve alcohol. Bands like Of Montreal (who are playing in Athens on Oct. 27 at The Georgia Theatre) now choose to play in other nearby cities.

This law was made by the city under the guise of lowering the crime rate, but I find that tactic quite ironic.

Like Bill Dawers said in a 2010 article on Savannahnow.com, “Does anyone think all these young adults go home…put on their jammies and turn in early? Does anyone think our young adults are committing fewer crimes or being victimized less because they’re roaming the streets rather than dancing in a nightclub?”

Her conclusion:

Before I knew it, the group’s set was over. It was back to reality as the 20 year old I am in Savannah who can’t get into any shows. If the city would only consider repealing the law that dissuades bigger bands like Beats Antique from playing here, we wouldn’t have had to make the trek to Charleston in the first place. Until that happens, we can only dream of seeing such entrancing music in our own local music venues.

For more of my thoughts, check out an August post here: Square Fest a good sign for Savannah music scene, but teens need more such chances to engage.

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