Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bizarre/Silly Music Laws

This is not legal advice. Leave audio feedback at (512) 686-6329.

There are a lot of sites out there that purport to list silly, anachronistic or otherwise bizarre laws. I thought I would compile some of them as they pertain to music and actually find citations for them. Never trust urban myths when it comes to the law! You might find yourself with a fine or in jail!


1) "New Hampshire law forbids you to tap your feet, nod your head, or in any way keep time to the music in a tavern, restaurant, or cafe." - Thanks to Rob Dillon for the research on this one. The way writes it is a little misleading. The statute is N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 179:19 and states two important things 

On-premises licensees may provide entertainment and dancing, in clearly defined areas on their licensed premises, provided they have received written authorization by the town or city and they have provided the commission with a copy of that authorization.

 "Dancer'' means a person or a group of people who, with or without compensation, move their feet, or body, or both, to the accompaniment of music in a premises approved to sell alcoholic beverages. "Dancer'' shall not be construed to mean a person or group of individuals who perform dances based upon ethnic, cultural, or historical customs.

2) In Russell, Kansas, "Musical car horns are banned". This appears to come from 17-213 of Russell's code ( There are exceptions for parades and car horns are not explicitly ruled out. This seems to be a ban against loud music.
No person operating or occupying a motor vehicle on a street, highway, alley, parking lot, or driveway shall operate or permit the operation of any sound amplification system from within the vehicle so that the sound is plainly audible at a distance of 50 or more feet from the vehicle.
If you look at the rest of the code, it's clear that there are no exceptions for musical car horns...but honestly, I don't see an exception for car horns at all.

The closest thing I felt I could find to this was
The pushcart shall not have attached to it any bell, siren, horn, loudspeaker, flashing lights or any similar device to attract the attention of possible customers, nor shall the pushcart operator use any such device to attract attention.

5) In Indian Wells, California, "it is illegal for a trumpet player to play his instrument with the intention of luring someone to a store." Luckily for me, this one came with a citation.
6) Supposedly, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin "it is against the law to play a flute and drums on the streets to attract attention." However, I searched the city ordinance website and didn't find anything. I find it hard to believe something like this would be handed down from a judge, but maybe there is a case out there dealing with nuisance law.