Two local musicians are opening this summer a new concert venue they hope will invigorate the local music scene and give Mid City a reimagined neighborhood music shop.
Mid City Ballroom will open at 136 S. Acadian Thruway, near North Boulevard and Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s Mid City campus, sometime in June.
James Fogle, a realtor and owner of vintage music store Baton Rouge Music Exchange, and Steve Levine, a musician-turned-biologist-turned-lawyer, are bringing the venue to Mid City.
The duo linked up around two years ago and began playing music together. Soon after, they formed the Maggies, a genre-bending Americana band that plays at Galatoire’s Bistro every Thursday, and began scoping out locations for a potential concert venue.
Fogle says he realized he needed more space for the Baton Rouge Music Exchange almost immediately after opening the store at 4262 Perkins Road in 2015. He and Levine had became interested in the concept of a concert venue and music store under the same roof, and last year purchased a former church building on South Acadian Thruway.
When it opens, Mid City Ballroom will hold around 250 to 300 people in the concert space, Fogle says, and will have 2,000 square feet of space for his music shop.
“We really want to present a little bit of a throwback alternative—with some modern technology thrown in—to the old neighborhood music store,” Levine says. “Right here in Baton Rouge there are people who are designing and manufacturing musical gear and musical instruments, and we want to make sure those people have a place to display and sell their stuff.”
Fogle says he envisions that the concert hall will feature rock ‘n’ roll, blues and jazz shows, as well as younger bands who are not old enough to play in bars. The venue will likely have earlier shows than the traditional concert venue, he adds.
Fogle also hopes to use the space for private events and wedding receptions.
“I grew up in Mid City, and I still live here in the Garden District,” he says. “It’s definitely up and coming. … We really want to be part of the Mid City community.”
Fogle and Levine bought the building in August of last year, and have been doing renovations for several months. The two have so far put on a new roof, redone the floors and made several other improvements. They will add professional-grade sound and lighting equipment and hope to open the building in early spring or late summer.