BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It sits on the corner of St. Joseph and Beauregard Street downtown. And on Tuesday, Oct. 25, light streams from the windows like a lantern in the dark. The Parlor is a relatively new listening room for music, among other things in Baton Rouge, and the audience is here.
They are music lovers in their 20s and 30s, and are swaying occasionally to the music, but intensely appreciating the expert guitar picking and lyrics of a poet. One guy is intently recording it on his cell phone perhaps for a YouTube clip.
When I walk up, a guy is apparently warming up for a performance. I ask his name and he hesitates and says "Alex Hughes." But you see, he's really known as "Hughesy." He's in Baton Rouge with his band, they're from London.
"Hughsie emailed me," says Emily McCollister, who's been manning the "gate," the admission at the door. She says Hughesy told her 'We reached out to Atomic Pop Shop' where they played last year. This is a solo project that he plays with a somewhat well-known British band. They opted his music through Community Records in New Orleans." So they're recording artists. "He had played Atomic Pop Shop last year and Atomic was booked." One of her friends suggested The Parlor.
McCollister says The Parlor has taken off since its inception.
"We've been open for six months. Our first show was April 28 and this is about show 40. That averages out to 2 or three a week. As soon as we opened I started getting inquiries in our email from people all over the country to come play, because Baton Rouge does not have a lot of venues. We have two large venues, Spanish Moon and The Varsity, since Chelsea's closed, of course, and these smaller spaces, that function more as listening rooms, Dyson House, is one of them, Atomic Pop Shop, of course us, and The Guru. There just aren't a lot of places to play and people are eager to play. What's really great is that Baton Rouge has a lot of good bands. Being one of only 10 or less venues means that I'm getting the best Baton rouge bands to play our space."
The Parlor is owned by Jody Johnston, a local photographer, graphic designer, and creative consultant. McCollister is an LSU English graduate who published her first book of poetry last month.
If you want a definition for what The Parlor is, you could look at their website, but that doesn't quite describe the Swiss Army knife variety and practicality here.
"It's actually is not that difficult. The Parlor is owned by Jody Johnston, and so I kind of end up running the music venue, my title is booking agent and event coordinator. A little bit of everything."
There's the night-time music venue and the ceiling that came with the building is 2x4's of natural wood, acting to the sound below like the resonator hole on a guitar. The sound is beautiful.
"Our attendance ranges from the crowd tonight, the least I've ever had was about four, and the most I've had was our Back to School Bash and that was 250!"
She might pull out blankets and rugs for people to sit on the floor and lounge around.
"We might bring out the chairs. It just depends on what the vibe is," McCollister says.
But it's also a collaborative work space that is open to whoever wants to pay the monthly rent and work out of the space.
McCollister says, "Our creative work space currently houses, not just photographers, graphic designers, videographers, but also a computer programmer, and we have one guy who works in some kind of engineering."
So as "Hughesy" prepares to take over from the first act of the evening. The Parlor looks to have found its niche.