Crowds and bands slowly returning to Baton Rouge music venues

Live music venues have faced a number of setbacks since COVID began. Some closed for months while others have struggled to bring customers or bands back. But some local venues have started 2022 off strong.

January was great for The Basin Music Hall, according to co-owner Brian Ott. People are getting more comfortable coming out, he says, and the venue is booking more shows.

Some bands were holding out on booking shows due to uncertainty about COVID rules in early winter, but Ott says his venue has gotten more calls about bands touring again.

Mid City Ballroom has seen crowds increase by about 20% since the start of the new year, owner James Fogle says. He plans to book shows every weekend and some weekdays during February and March.

Some venues, however, haven’t seen as large of a turnaround. Red Dragon Listening Room was seeing an increase in customers prior to omicron, owner Chris Maxwell says, and is now drawing about 60% of its pre-COVID numbers.

“Places with a younger demographic are doing better,” he says. “Our average clientele is anywhere between 45 and 75, and with older clientele it’s been considerably harder.”

The venue is hosting about five shows a month, but with the usual crowd it would be about seven or eight, Maxwell says.

All three owners are optimistic about a return to some sense of normalcy in 2022.

“With the amount of people being vaccinated,” Maxwell says, “it should be nearing where it was before.”

This story originally appeared in a Feb. 3 issue of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.