A chat with owner John Burns about the future of Dyson House Listening Room

When it opened its doors three years ago, Dyson House Listening Room quickly built a reputation as one of the most cozy, intimate settings for music in Baton Rouge. The Jefferson Highway venue has hosted more than 400 shows featuring both local and national musicians.

In December, owner John Burns sold the property, and the new owner plans to build a shopping center in its place. But Burns says he intends to keep the Dyson House brand active in the Baton Rouge music scene once the venue closes its doors for good—be that as concert presenter at other venues or in an entirely new space.

We sat down with Burns to discuss the unique venue’s origins, successes and future.

What made you want to own a concert venue in the first place?

I acquired the building without ever walking into it. When I first went in, I looked around and I was like, ‘Man, this would be a great place for live music.’ So I invited Clay Parker and Jodi James to do a show there. They happened to be looking for a place to do a CD release show, and we packed the house. It was a great feeling.

Was it difficult to book national talent for such a small venue?

A lot of artists want to do intimate shows where they can connect with their audience. A lot of musicians are looking for this type of venue and this size of audience, so we’re actually a perfect fit for a lot of people. Other venues just aren’t as intimate.

How would you describe Dyson House’s cultural impact on the city?

A robust live music economy enhances a city’s values in a number of important ways. It drives tourism, supports the development of a creative community, helps build a city’s brand, strengthens the social fabric and fuels economic growth. A solid local music scene is also an important part of attracting and retaining a healthy workforce pipeline among young professionals.

Was it a tough decision to sell the venue?

It was a very expensive building and Dyson House never made any money, but I was kind of OK with that. I enjoyed it. I was able to put together the money to pay the note every month, but I couldn’t do it forever. I am looking to bring Dyson House someplace else, though. I own Christian Street Furniture, where we had 10 shows during our hiatus, and they went very well. I’d like to find somewhere a little more funky, though.

What’s next for the Dyson House brand?

I think it’s a strong brand that will live on. My goal is to help it live on. I’ve had a lot of fun doing it and it’s brought a lot of happiness to people around town, so I want to keep it rolling.

Future shows

While initial reports were that Dyson House would close at the end of February, the venue’s website lists more than a dozen shows still on the books throughout the month and into March and April. Check with the venue at dysonhouselr.com for the most up-to-date info.

This article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of 225 Magazine.