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In Capitol Heights, The Only Rule is "Bee Nice"

Driving down Capitol Heights in Mid-City a few weeks back, I saw a sign in front of a house. It was...a colorful sign, to say the least, and what it said intrigued me: "Live Music - Friday - 6:30 to 8:30." I decided to check it out, and what I found was not what I expected.

“It’s a neighborhood event,"  said David Henson, leader of the Adult Music Club of Baton Rouge. "It’s not really like a music venue, like a club show or anything like that where there’s going to be a crowd of rowdy people, or anything like that; but I do like (it) – this is a pretty good little house.”

From the street it doesn't look like a house, and it doesn't really look like a business either; more like a park. So what is this place, then? Who lives here?

David Mooney, Proprietor of the Bee Nice Concert Series.
Credit Frank Barnett, WRKF
David Mooney, Proprietor of the Bee Nice Concert Series.

"We get that a lot, 'What is this place'?" That's the owner, David Mooney, or Dave. I asked him what I'm looking at, what's going on, and his answer was simple: "This is my backyard! My goal is to have a really nice block party where all the neighbors can come in and sit in my backyard and have a casual thing. I'm not interested in anything other than that."

Musical talent scout, "The Reverend" Louie Lipinski, described it best: "It's like a cross between Ed Sullivan and the Rolling Stones Rock n' Roll Circus."

They call it the Bee Nice Concert Series and the decor is very much akin to a circus: there’s a stage, a huge fire pit, picnic tables, a working telephone booth, three working trailers, and a pink VW van. When I show up early, 30 to 40 people are already here. Although he's no Ed Sullivan, "The Reverend Louie" does a good job of entertaining guests in between acts. 

"And ladies and gentlemen, where is he? Capitol Heights! At the Bee Nice Concert Series. Let me hearya- Bee Nice Concert Series! Come on let's hear it!"

So how does something like this get started?

“I’m thinking about it, " Dave pondered, "because we didn’t plan any of this. We didn’t set out and go, ‘Hey, we’re going to have a party'."

But in a way, they did. They bought an empty lot next door, ended up using it for his son’s wedding, and the decorations were never taken down. Subsequently, Dave said,“We’d look up and we’d have a dozen people sitting around talking, just people drawn to (the yard) because it’s real inviting.” 

And from there the party grew, especially each time the church across the street, Ingleside Methodist, had their yearly concert. 

“But this summer they weren't going to do it," Dave said, "and I missed it. I like live music, but I don’t like smoke and I don’t like staying out until 2 o’clock in the morning. So, I started thinking, ‘you know, if I got a PA set up here, would people come'?"

Credit Frank Barnett, WRKF

The answer was yes.

“Anywhere that’s a casual Friday night," said neighbor Mary Patricia Wray, "that I don’t have to get all gussied up, and there’s semi-cold beverages, BYOB: I’m there.”

The musicians feel the same way. “This is just another great community event for us to play in, you know? And these are our kind of people," Henson said. "I think our set’s going to go over really nice here.”

The Bee Nice Concert Series gives local musicians not just a place to perform, but an open field to network, too. Bob Lesh, member of the Adult Music Club of Baton Rouge, told me that the amount of bands popping up from local events like this are growing because "this age group, these older people playing a lot of music, there’s a lot of spinoff.”

Credit Frank Barnett, WRKF

Everyone gets a chance to network in person, which pleases Dave's wifePenniGuidry. “Because unfortunately we’re in this time period where people just kind of pass each other by," she said,  "but this is kind of a stopping spot, and they do it.”

It’s that old fashioned idea of being neighborly,Pennihints. Of course, they still use modern methods—social media—to stay informed. I mean, come on;  how else do you think word spread?

“On the Next Door Neighbor website," said Janice Lafasso. "Just, NextDoor.com," Ira Wray told me. "Next Door Neighbor website," said a guy who only identified himself as Chad, and "Posted on the Next Door website" said Tyler Hicks.

But, I will say this: I’m not the only one who found this place because of that sign.

“I jog," said Laura Shexnayder, "so the sign right out front there, ha-ha…”

Copyright 2021 WRKF. To see more, visit WRKF.

Frank Barnett, WRKF /
Frank Barnett, WRKF /
Frank Barnett, WRKF /
Frank Barnett, WRKF /
Frank Barnett, WRKF /
Frank Barnett, WRKF /
Frank Barnett, WRKF /
Frank Barnett, WRKF /
Frank Barnett, WRKF /

Frank is a native Houstonian. He relocated to Baton Rouge to attend LSU where he earned a communications degree. After working in the film industry for three years as a production assistant, he decided to make the switch to radio and could not be happier with his decision.

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