I opened the door to what has previously been known as the Rudyard Kipling to the smell of fried chicken, the sound of a beer being cracked open, and the palpable hum of excitement and conversation. A crowd of people made themselves at home, a mix of young and old playing a card game at the dining room table, some trying their luck at one of the many pinball machines, and others buttering biscuits from Another Place Sandwich Shop.
Regardless of their chosen pregame activity, everyone was eager for the main event.
I had just opened the door to The Living Room Series (TLRS).
“The Living Room Series is a monthly concert series I’ve been hosting in the comfort of my living room in Old Louisville for the past 5+ years,” said Dusty Segretto, the founder and host of TLRS. “There’s always a home-cooked meal, and it’s always BYOB. There are no tickets, and it’s donation-based (suggested $15-$20 donations), so it’s really more like a listening party, focused on incredibly talented bands and musicians who get to share the space with their audience in an ad-hoc community of like-minded music appreciators.”
Segretto started TLRS when he hosted friends in the band Frontier Ruckus during a tour they were doing of “living room shows.” They were looking for a place to play locally in Louisville, and Segretto answered their call by providing his newly-purchased home in Old Louisville as their stage.
“I had never heard of a full concert in a house before, and I wanted it to be memorable, so I made a big deal out of the event by commissioning a screen-printed poster, home-brewing a rye IPA, making custom beer labels, cooking a ton of carnitas tacos, the whole nine yards!” said Segretto.
Before he knew it, more artists started inquiring about playing in his home, and attendees began asking when the next event would be. The rest is history, or what we know now as The Living Room Series.
I had been to a handful of shows at the original TLRS location, just around the corner from my house, and it was honestly one of the selling points of the neighborhood. Before moving to Old Louisville a couple of years ago, I reached out to Segretto to ask him what he thought of the neighborhood as a resident. His answer? Old Louisville is the place to be.
“I truly believe in the neighborhood of Old Louisville, and that it is experiencing a latent revival. It’s such a cool neighborhood! What I love most about Old Louisville is how mixed it is in every regard, from the diversity of the population to the diversity of the architecture,” Segretto explained. “I think it encourages a special artistic energy which is readily apparent in the extremely cool events Old Louisville is already known for: Shakespeare in the Park, St James Art Fair, Garvin Gate Blues Fest, and the Louisville UnFair local art show at Mag Bar, just to name a few.”
I’d personally add TLRS to that list. And now, with its new location in the old Rudyard Kipling building, it’s given Segretto an opportunity to expand the types of acts that perform and increase the amount of people that can attend. Not to mention, it means more pinball machines — a trademark of TLRS and one of Segretto’s many hobbies.
And, while it may not be around the corner anymore, TLRS is still (thankfully) a quick walk from my house.
“I think the real charm of TLRS comes from the atmosphere of being inside a real home, which encourages a different level of interaction between attendees, and with artists. Since my girlfriend and I are actually living in the building, the concerts are still very much ‘living room shows,’ which offers a completely different experience compared to a show in a normal venue around town,” Segretto said.
The vibe of TLRS is truly hard to describe; you have to attend a show to feel the true magic of the sights, sounds, and tastes of the evening. But what draws me even more to TLRS is the mission of giving back to the community and the artists that perform. All proceeds from the first show at the new Rudyard Kipling location benefited the local nonprofit Canopy, a company that supports socially responsible businesses in Kentucky by growing their impact through education, certification, and advocacy. All the profits for other shows go straight to the artists that perform.
“There are no tickets,” Segretto explained. “Everything is donation-based, and all money goes to the artists. I generally suggest an appropriate donation amount in line with the level of artist and their expectations, usually $15-$20 as a starting point, but I have seen generous people drop in $100 bills as well.”
On its first night at “The Rud,” TLRS hosted performances by both Kentucky native Ben Sollee and The Hot Sauce Brass Band. Food was provided by Another Place Sandwich Shop (I’m still thinking about those biscuits), although Segretto, along with his girlfriend and co-host, Sarah Syring, typically provide the food for attendees, which is no small task.
“Cooking for 50+ people every month is a fun challenge, and yes it’s a lot of work. Having Sarah as co-host makes everything so much easier on show days, and a lot more fun. The shows are typically on Saturdays, as it can take all day to get everything prepped and all the food cooked. You learn to get a feel for meals that “scale up” quickly to feed a ton of people for less time and money, like pork shoulders and baked pastas,” said Segretto.
I can attest that the food is amazing, and since the shows are BYOB, it’s the date night deal you’re looking for at the low price of a donation to the band. And, Segretto works hard to ensure that if you’re attending TLRS, you’re getting your donation’s worth. There is a long list of artists hoping to play in Segretto’s living room, which he hosts only once or twice a month — so he has to be selective about each performance.
“When choosing which artists to feature, my main goal is to create a night where the audience feels they were a part of something truly magical, seeing sincere artistry they couldn’t see anywhere else. And when it all comes together just right, everyone can feel it. You see people looking around the room, like “Is this really happening?” It’s a very cool shared moment,” Segretto described.
When we were deciding whether to the move to the neighborhood, Dusty helped make our decision to make Old Louisville our home. And, now that we’re here, he’s providing one of the many reasons we don’t want to leave. Where else can you experience amazing music, get a home-cooked meal, and hang out with new friends and neighbors — without even hopping in the car?
“Old Louisville is walkable and beautiful; it’s not the dangerous neighborhood people remember from the 90’s,” Segretto said. “Things are changing in Old Louisville, and I hope The Living Room Series can help people see that, and draw in more positive energy to help catalyze the renaissance that is happening here.”
422 W. Oak Street
Louisville, KY 40203
Want to attend The Living Room Series? “Like” the Living Room Series Facebook page to see the events, and RSVP via the link on the Facebook event page when you see an event posted. It’s free to RSVP, and donations are collected at the shows.