Lend Us Your Ear! The Blue Jay Listening Room, An Intimate Music Venue in Jacksonville Beach

When Cara Burky set out to bring her vision for a music venue to life, she had a specific idea in mind. Her goal was to create an intimate space that catered to the consummate music lover and gave music makers a home to share their art without the chatter and restless energy of a bar crowd.

The Blue Jay Listening Room makes space for the stories and inspirations behind the music for people who really want to hear it. Some shows are ticketed events; others require a cover at the door. Open mic nights and jam nights give players a stage to connect with other musicians and give fans a front-row seat to the spontaneity as the music unfolds.

“For years, I’ve wanted a place where I could go and listen to musicians. I mean, actually sit and listen,” she says of her inspiration for the Blue Jay Listening Room. “I grew tired of going to see my favorite local musicians at bars and restaurants where they were shoved in a corner and forced to sing covers and sneak in only an original or two. I wanted more than being one of thousands of people in an arena or theater. I wanted to be up close and personal. I wanted interaction. I wanted connection.”

The Blue Jay Listening Room in Jacksonville Beach is a hidden gem that meets the needs of the player and the listener. Located on the second floor of the Costa Verde Plaza at the corner of 25th Avenue South and Third Street, there is no fancy sign or anything that might attract the wandering bar crowd looking for a new place to crash. The Blue Jay Listening Room is designed for those who want a quiet space to listen to music and make a personal connection.

“As a musician, I know the heart, soul, and time that artists put into writing their own songs, and I know what a special thing it is to be able to bare your heart and soul and share those feelings and inspirations with people who actually want to hear it,” says Burky. “Selling out a stadium is, of course, part of the dream, but having a small room of intent listeners who sincerely care what you have to say is quite another.”

Burky launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund her vision and bring the Blue Jay to life. She framed the dream around the success of a yearlong experiment to operate an intimate listening room. The cozy space sat around 30 people and hosted a series of local and touring musicians once a month, selling out every show. “The response was beyond my wildest dreams,” she says in her Kickstarter. “The more word spread, the larger my social media presence became, and the more I knew, without a doubt, that our city needs this space.”

When the city shot down her request for a beer and wine license in the original location, Burky set out to find a permanent place to roost with the correct zoning, ample parking and enough space to increase her capacity. Funds raised in her Kickstarter campaign helped her complete the massive buildout, transforming a raw shell into a warm, inviting atmosphere with a strict PBQ policy during performances – Please Be Quiet.

“Blue Jay is a beautifully sacred, intimate space that allows you to come listen, expand your musical knowledge, and share in an experience you will never forget. It gives you an opportunity to be present, take a deep breath, and relax. It allows you to connect, to feel, to be inspired,” she says. “I cannot tell you how grateful I am for each and every person who has supported this journey. While it’s obviously my dream come true, I want this for our town just as much as I do for myself. I want this for original music makers. I want this for music lovers. I want this for all of us.”

About Liza Mitchell