The talent buyer/manager of Humphreys Backstage Lounge, Jeremiah Smith, was arrested for felony drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter after Smith’s GMC truck reportedly struck and killed a man on Interstate 8 near Lakeside.
The L.A. Times reported that a 42-year-old Mexicali man was standing on the freeway shoulder next to a vehicle speaking to his wife following mechanical problems to one of their cars.
The accident, which occurred at 4:10 a.m. on Saturday, January 26, threw the man hundreds of feet. He died at the scene.
Smith was arrested and held on $100,000 bail.
An insider close to Humphreys’ staff reported that there was an immediate reaction to the fatal accident from Humphreys management: two bartenders and one barback were fired. The insider says that the three employees were terminated because they engaged in after-hours drinking with Smith.
“That is complete bullshit,” says the insider. “They were there having their shift drink after the bar was closed, just like they have done for years and years. They have cameras up the ass all around Humphreys [Lounge]. These guys have been taking their completely legal after-closing-shift drinks since 1975, or whenever, and all the managers knew it. Now they want to fire the underlings because their boss got too drunk and killed somebody. That guy [Smith] was the boss of these guys who were fired. He could just go around the bar and help himself to as much booze as he wants. It wasn’t like these bartenders overserved him. He was their boss. One of these bartenders who got fired had been there for 28 years.”
Sergio Davies, general manager of Humphreys, responded this way about Smith’s arrest: “This is not a story. It is too early, and the facts are not all in.” But what about the three fired employees? “What happens to employees on our property, we don’t divulge that information.”
Because Smith was so closely tied to booking bands at Humphreys, some local musicians wondered if Smith’s legal problems may impact Humphreys’ entertainment schedule.
Mike Blake, Humphreys food-and-beverage manager who oversaw Smith, says there are no changes afoot in their seven-night-a-week live-music commitment. “We are still going to have the same mix of blues, jazz, rock, and ’80s that we have always had.”
The 160-capacity Humphreys Backstage Lounge has just undergone significant interior improvements, including upgrades to its sound system.
“It’s too bad this happened right now,” says a local promoter. “Now that [the 300-capacity] Anthology has gone away, this means that Humphreys could arrive as the premier San Diego venue to host all the smaller national touring acts that aren’t big enough for the Belly Up or the House Blues. But, I guess they could still pull it off.”
In January, Humphreys presented blues players Robin Henkel, Chet Cannon, and Bill Magee; smooth-jazz musicians Jesse Davis and Stelita; and Beatles and Billy Joel tribute acts.