Baton Rouge is the musical no man’s land between funky New Orleans and canaille Lafayette. It has one thing neither city has—the Red Dragon Listening Room—a venue concept that will never make it in Uptown New Orleans or in the Hub City because it’s a club that is not designed to make a profit, ever.

“All the money goes to the musicians,” says owner Chris Maxwell. “We don’t sell anything. It’s just about the music.”

Folkie and singer/songwriter touring acts, including Jimmy Lafave, Chris Knight, Webb Wilder, Fred Eaglesmith, Truckstop Honeymoon, Will Kimbrough, as well as Louisianans Susan Cowsill, David Egan and Spencer Bohren can attest to one thing: Maxwell loves music. He loves the folk scene so much that he bought the former Lillie’s Tavern, a cinder-block bomb shelter of a bar on Florida Boulevard near Magnolia Cemetery, so he could bring in the musicians he wants to hear and invite 75 of his closest friends.

“It’s like a big house party,” Maxwell says of concert night at the Dragon. He modeled the smoke-free, BYOB venue after Oklahoma City’s Blue Door, a dilapidated, earthy spot where Midwestern touring folkies can always find a stage.

The Red Dragon thrives on the kindness of strangers to keep its doors open. Patrons donated their time to install a stage, rudimentary lighting and sound system. They built a security fence during a community event dubbed Fencepalooza. Roofapalooza is coming. Folks have also donated the super-comfy sofa seating reserved for VIP customers.


.. John Gorka
John Gorka live at the Red Dragon Listening Room on Jan. 14, 2014
2401 Florida Street, Baton Rouge 70802 LA


Recorded by Jamey firnberg
click here for more info about him

"Let Them In"


John Gorka to perform at Red Dragon Listening Room on Jan. 14, 2014

By Chelsea Brasted, | The Times-Picayune
January 13, 2014 at 1:06 PM.

When John Gorka's new album drops sometime in March, it'll represent not only the fruits of three decades' work but also a new approach to an well-worn, familiar path for the folk artist. Gorka first will take an unfamiliar one to Baton Rouge and the Red Dragon Listening Room, where he'll perform his first show ever in the city Jan. 16.

Gorka first officially began his musical career in 1984 when he won the New Folk Award, an honor that clued him in to thinking other people might actually enjoy his music.

"It was the firs time I started to get the idea … that maybe there might be a larger audience out there who would like what I was doing," Gorka said. "After that, I got asked to play a couple festivals, and this was before I had any kind of recordings out. That was a nice boost for my confidence."

Since then, Gorka has been on a circuit of quirky opera houses and listening spaces and he's released more than a dozen albums. For the next one, however, he changed his approach, which is why fans have waited a little longer than they've been used to in the past 10 years.


"I did it a little bit at a time over a long period of time," Gorka said. "This way I can see how the performances held up over time for me."

Shelf life is an important aspect to Gorka's writing, especially now when he's still called upon to perform songs more than two decades old.

"I don't mind that people like the old songs," he said. "I like them, too. The shows are kind of like I'm telling a story, and if I leave out the beginning, then the story doesn't make much sense."

The new collection of songs, entitled "Bright Side of Down," is expected to see a March release. The album, Gorka admits, has a wintery theme simply based on the grouping of songs that came out of his time in the studio. The theme was more accident than intention.

"The working title of the last several projects has been 'Illusion of Control,'" Gorka laughed. Gorka performs at the Red Dragon

Listening Room on Thursday, Jan. 16 with Gina Forsyth opening. Tickets are $30 or $40 for reserved VIP seating. Email for tickets.

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