Above: Bee Nice headliner Joel Willson on his violin with England in 1819 in the music video for Lights.
By Colleen King
Ever wanted to hang out in the coolest place in Mid-City? Love music and a family-friendly atmosphere? The Bee Nice Backyard Concert Series at the “Mooney Stay-cation” on Capital Heights is all that and -what’s more- it’s free. Hosts Penni Guidry and Dave Mooney spend many of their Fridays turning their quaint backyard park into an evening that everyone in the neighborhood can enjoy. Penni and Dave first had the idea to turn their property into a venue in response to the neighborhood’s needs. Penni says,
“We had music last year in Capital Heights where they closed the street and brought a big band in and they didn’t do it this year… there were people missing it.” When asked if Mid-City needs more music venues, she continues, “Yes. I think Mid-City needs to go all the way with local musicians!”
The night is a unique combination of friends and fun. The stage is a small covered platform close to the audience who are circled around in patio chairs, swings, and sliders. Fairy lights make the night seem more magical as the sun goes down. It is a personable and relaxing performance space. Penni floats around the crowd, handing out paper fans that she made herself for the occasion. Kids run around while their parents talk and laugh. Many of those laughs come from the emcee and music manager of the evening: “Reverend” Louis Lipinski. The Reverend introduces the acts, but he is quite the act himself. Before passing the hat for contributions, he asks “What are all those candidates trying to get in the upcoming election? Denominations. That’s what we’ll take here (gesturing to the hat); we take all denominations.”
All money and political puns aside, however, the Reverend is serious about keeping music alive in Baton Rouge. He says when he books the bands for this event, he reaches out to people that he wants to hear who “fit this venue” – intimate, but with a sense of variety and excitement. He says the night is “a cross between the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus and the Ed Sulllivan show.” When asked who the Ed Sullivan is in this scenario, he matter-of-fact-ly responds, “Me.”
The music really does fit the venue, as our Mr. Sullivan suggests. The first act is Renshaw Davies, a two person acoustic group with some nice harmonies and percussion. The tunes are casual, romantic, and full of good vibes. The New Orleans-based, New Roots folk duo released their latest EP in may featuring their singles “Auctioneer” and “Down The Road.” Both are available for listening at www.renshawdavies.com.
The next act is the headliner Joel Willson of Spontaneous Combustion. His music is more experimental, using a live loop of violin that is surprising and provocative. The event promises to continue with more cool acts in the future, hopefully including a “swamp-pop-dance-party” according to the Revered Louis. The night is short and sweet- over by 8:30 PM- making it the perfect summer party if you want to turn in early or go out afterwards!
Next concert: Friday, August 7
Time: 6:30 to 8:30PM
Location: 4205 Capital Heights
Concessions: Available from the Capital Heights Neighborhood Association
Rules: No pets allowed, no smoking, and “be nice”