Show of support: Dyson House owner John Burns, musicians team up for ReOpen the House fundraiser concert
BY JOHN WIRT | Special to The AdvocateMay 10, 2018 - 12:00 pmBaton Rouge musicians and audiences love the Dyson House Listening Room. Owner John Burns got all the confirmation he needed when every performer he asked to play an upcoming fundraiser said yes.
The grass-roots music venue will host ReOpen the House from 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Performances will be held outside the venue at 7575 Jefferson Highway. The lineup includes local talents like Denton Hatcher, Kristin Courville and Eric DiSanto, The Fugitive Poets and New Orleans singer-songwriters Paul Sanchez and Alex McMurray.
Donations from the concert will help pay for renovations necessary for the venue to meet building code standards. The requirements forced Dyson House to close last July.
In mid-March, Burns launched a fundraising campaign to update the venue to code. To date, that campaign has reached nearly half its $20,000 goal.
Burns received an especially heartfelt gift from the building’s previous owner, Deana Dyson Ashworth. She sent a $1,000 donation with a note.
“My dad is yelling down from heaven — ‘Send them something. It has my name on it,’ " Ashworth wrote. "Thrilled you are doing this.”
For Burns, reopening Dyson House isn't a matter of if — it's when. At time of publication, the listening room passed all inspections needed to reopen. Concerts are scheduled at the venue in the coming months.
In advance of this weekend's fundraising event, Burns discussed details about upcoming improvements and how local musicians love Dyson House.
Were you surprised that everyone you asked to perform at Saturday's event signed on?
I didn’t expect so many bands to want to participate, but they all were excited about it. Other musicians wanted to participate, but we had too much music. I’m lucky that so many musicians love the space and concept.
How do you feel about how the Dyson House audience has responded to your fundraising campaign?
It’s heartwarming. I’m honored that people think what we’ve done has been worthwhile and that they’ve donated.
Managing the Dyson House requires time, energy and money. When the building code issues came up, did you consider letting it go?
Most people would accept being shut down by the city as defeat. We were having some great shows but then, all of a sudden, (we were told,) "Stop. You can’t do it anymore." As time went on, I had to cancel shows. I wondered if I could reopen, but it is going to happen.
Many venue operators might have seen the building code requirements as an unfair burden. Did you?
I’m behind them 100 percent. I want Dyson House to be safe for everybody. When we only had one bathroom, we had people waiting in line. Nobody complained, but it’ll be a lot better to have two bathrooms.
Donations to the Dyson House may be made through brownpapertickets.com (search "Dyson House Listening Room") or by check mailed to Dyson House LR Inc., 4180 Churchill Ave., Baton Rouge, LA, 70808.