For the second time in a month, the House of Blues faces possible penalties from the Boston Licensing Board, this time for a Feb. 15 incident in which a Boston officer found an underage BC student drinking a beer she got with somebody else's out-of-state license.
Last month, the board ordered the House of Blues to shut for three days because fire inspectors found partially blocked exits during a show. The music hall will shut June 6, 7 and 8.
Sgt. Robert Mulvey of District D-4 told the board this morning that when he entered the venue around 9:20 during a "Jagermeister Country Tour" show to investigate why a woman was wobbling around outside, apparently drunk, he spotted another woman who appeared too young to be legally enjoying the beer she had in her hand. He asked to see her ID and she produced a New Jersey driver's license. Unfortunately for her, Mulvey said, she had failed to memorize the information on it, and was unable to provide the address or Zip code on it when he asked. He then asked for her real ID, at which point she provided a Mass. license showing she was only 19 at the time.
House of Blues attorney Dennis Quilty acknowledged the slipup. "They do a very good job but can do better and will do better," he promised, noting the venue already screens young looking people separately at the door and has security staff checking on anybody on the floor with alcohol who looks too young. He said the hall is buying a state-of-the-art license scanner that not only checks whether a license was valid but then prompts a worker to ask a series of validating question, like Mulvey did.
"It pains me to have you before us," board Chairman Daniel Pokaski replied. "The House of Blues is an asset to the city, but we can't allow underage kids in there to be be drinking."
As he did at a hearing last week on a Readville liquor store caught selling beer to a minor, Pokaski said that if there's any doubt at all, a license holder should simply refuse service to somebody with an out-of-state ID. Massachusetts law only holds licensees harmless in cases of valid-looking Massachusetts or military IDs or passports.
"People aren't coming from New Jersey just see some country and western band on Lansdowne Street," he said, adding he doesn't get how Mulvey could so quickly zero in on the teen when bar workers, who deal with the issue every day, missed her.
"You've got to toughen your procedures," he said. "I don't want to see you here again on Tuesdays [when the board holds hearings on license violations]."
The board will vote Thursday on what penalty, if any, to levy.