Dyson House owner talks collaboration with the mind behind Zeeland Street’s popular food

Dyson House Listening Room may have changed locations, but the soul of the place hasn’t moved. With close to 600 shows since its founding around four years ago, the nonprofit has been holding its own on the Baton Rouge cultural scene ever since, offering up intimate performances by local acts and traveling legends.

After the final show at its Jefferson Highway location in January, Dyson House’s managing owner, John Burns, went searching for a new venue. He eventually connected with Zeeland Street restaurant owner Stephanie Phares, who had been looking to provide evening service at the neighborhood lunch spot.

Zeeland Street hosted its first nighttime Dyson House show back in April, with Phares creating a special dinner menu for guests while they took in the chill music.

“It’s just been a very good partnership,” Burns says. “Zeeland Street sells food and drink, and all I’m doing is booking the bands and making sure they get paid and making sure the show runs smoothly. I’ve been very pleased with the way it’s gone.”

Burns talked to 225 about the listening room’s transition and the continuing role it plays in the local music scene. dysonhouselr.com

For the uninitiated, what kind of music does Dyson House showcase?

I’ve always focused on Americana and folk-type music. We had some great jazz shows, and we’re looking to get some different types of indie-style acts—just a bit more diversification in our music.

Do you miss anything about the old Dyson House location on Jefferson Highway?

Yeah, but there’s a lot of things I don’t miss. I have more help here, and it also holds about 25 more people than [the former location] holds. So it allows me to get some bigger acts and get some bigger volume with ticket sales.

Do you think Dyson House is better suited for a neighborhood hangout like this?

It’s doing much better. We’re getting a lot more walk-in traffic than we got on Jefferson. The whole neighborhood surrounding Zeeland Street embraced us, and they like to be able to walk to shows.

How hard is it to choose acts for the shows?

I do get bombarded with requests, and I want to book everybody. There’s so many great acts out there. But I need to make sure I can sell tickets to that show, so that when [the bands] drive here, they’re going to make enough money to make it worth their time.

How do you think Dyson House fits in on the local cultural and music scene?

Well, I think Baton Rouge has just embraced it. It’s a big compliment to me that people want to come see shows, and we’ve got a regular group that comes to shows again and again and really like what we’re doing. I want to add to the cultural scene. I hope I am. I’m doing the best I can.

Upcoming Dyson House shows at Zeeland Street

NOV. 7: Susan Cowsill Presents Carly Simon’s “No Secrets”

NOV. 8: Dawn & Hawkes

NOV. 13: Jon Stickley Trio

NOV. 14: Ever More Nest

NOV. 21: Mary Gauthier
with Jaimee Harris

NOV. 24: Hurricane Becca and Her Outer Band with Jesse Lee Mitchell

NOV. 29: West King String Band

This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.