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Legislation May Be Coming in Aftermath of The Parlor’s Shut Down

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman Legislation May Be Coming in Aftermath of The Parlor’s Shut DownJoey Hendrickson appears before the Franklin County Municipal Court. Photo courtesy of Hendrickson.
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Update 1/5/2022: This article has been updated with information on an upcoming bill to modify the state’s Keeper of a Place law.

For the better part of a year, Joey Hendrickson has fought against charges that put his house concert series The Parlor in jeopardy.

But since Columbus Underground’s story on the charges and what the incident meant for Hendrickson and house concerts in general, a citywide—and even nationwide—conversation has begun to take place, and changes appear to be on the horizon.

The prosecutor in Hendrickson’s case greatly reduced the charges against him, from four class A misdemeanor charges to a single 4th-degree misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. He accepted the deal, which involved a $250 fine and no jail time, in part because the reduction wouldn’t contribute to case law that could be used against other house concert hosts. (His second charge, of keeping a place where intoxicating liquors are sold, was dismissed.)

Along with a reduction in charges, Hendrickson shared moves being made at the city and state level.

Hendrickson appeared a few times before Columbus City Council to explain the issue and advocate for house concerts as a legitimate space for gatherings in Columbus. He also noted that one council member, whom he did not name, had attended one of the concerts, and was interested to know what they thought of the situation.

“City Council was very supportive in that they realized the need to define policy for house concerts…that would separate house concerts from other nefarious activities that could be included in this really old Keeper of a Place law,” said Hendrickson.

He said former council member Mitchell Brown agreed to appoint his legislative assistant to look into policy that could be drafted congruent to state law. And with his retirement, discussions are continuing to be had on the issue, according to a spokesperson for council.

Ohio’s century-old Keeper of a Place law is often applied to after-hours bars or other places where alcohol is being sold without a permit. But that doesn’t mean the law can’t be applied elsewhere.

“The thing is when drafting that policy…they said well, based on this over 100-year-old Keeper of a Place law, you technically can’t hand out beer in your apartment,” continued Hendrickson.

Hendrickson is still pushing for local legislation, as, according to him, “If Eric Wolf and the Ohio Investigative Unit wants to come into people’s homes, at least now there’s sort of a precedent that it won’t be for first degree misdemeanors. It’ll just be a…minor misdemeanor fine.”

So council pointed him in the direction of Ohio State Rep. Kristin Boggs, representing District 18. Hendrickson noted Boggs’ insight into how the law affects political activities and other spaces where one doesn’t have a permit, but alcohol is “given away” anyway.

“It’s not just the artists, it’s the politicians themselves who have been active and fundraising for their livelihood with this common cultural practice of being a good host to your friends and handing someone a beer, while they’re supporting someone’s campaign or supporting someone’s new album,” said Hendrickson.

Hendrickson said Boggs’ office is working on legislation to update the old Keeper of a Place law, and as of Wednesday, Jan. 5, her office has confirmed they are planning on introducing a bill potentially within the next 2 weeks. Other alcohol-related Ohio laws are also currently being considered, giving some precedent for more updates.

Hendrickson’s experience over the past several months has made its way across the country.

“I got phone calls from people all over the United States who do house concerts. There’s certainly a passionate world and community out there,” he said.

There’s also talk of opening a public music venue at some point.

Regardless of what happens on the legislative side, Hendrickson said he will continue to advocate for house concerts. And as for The Parlor, the series still has not restarted shows. He shared how important the space was to him personally, and his desire to start back up again.

“I need The Parlor in my life. That’s why I pushed so hard for this thing. It’s a really important place for me in order to have my peace of mind in Columbus,” he said. “So I do plan to restart The Parlor, and abide by all of the laws that are out there right now.”

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