I could think of some clever saying about New Orleans and its music scene, but others have said it best:
I’m not sure, but I’m almost positive that all music came from New Orleans. – Ernie K-Doe, topped the charts in 1961 with the single, “Mother-in-Law”
There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better. – Bob Dylan (if you don’t know who he is, skip this blog article)
If you love music, especially live music, New Orleans will never disappoint. Known primarily for jazz that’ll get you swayin’, blues that’ll move your soul, and R&B that’ll keep you hopping, you’ll also find Cajun, Zydeco, Rock, Country, and Punk. There is literally live music every night of the week and in most areas of town.
If you can’t decide, have a group with varied music tastes, or want to witness the most concentrated amalgamation of music clubs just about anywhere in the U.S., head to Frenchmen Street for two blocks of wall-to-wall, world-class live music venues just a half mile from the center of the French Quarter. Here are my favorites and some other highly recommended clubs all located within Frenchmen’s two-block span.
The Blue Nile – One of New Orleans’ premier music venues, featuring local, national, and international funk, blues, and soul music. As one of the longest operating clubs along Frenchman Street, you may catch an up-and-coming artist or more famous performers.
Café Negril – The sign out front says “live music 363 nites a year” and what music it is! From Reggae to rock n’ roll, this place knows how to party. If you’re in town when the Dana Abbot Band is playing, be sure to go see this rock, rhythm, and blues dynamo.
d.b.a. – An offshoot of the New York pub, featuring a vast selection of whiskey, as well as jaw-dropping live blues.
The Maison – Live music seven nights a week on three stages, along with a restaurant offering a modern Creole menu. (Pro Tip: Reserve a table for dinner, as the show is in the same area. Also, stay caffeinated, as they close when the last guest leaves.)
Snug Harbor – The granddaddy of Freemont Clubs, Snug Harbor has been showcasing some of the best live jazz in New Orleans for more than 30 years. The club features three different rooms: enjoy appetizers or dinner in the dining room, listen in the music room, or hang out in the bar.
The Spotted Cat – This quintessential and kitten-size jazz club serves up some of the best jazz in the city, as well as blues, funk, and more. It is a local favorite and always crowded. It’s also cash only and no cover, but be prepared to throw some money in the hat.
Three Muses – Another great place to hear exceptional jazz, but also with an excellent restaurant serving New American cuisine and a bar menu with creative cocktails, craft beers, an affordable wine list, and a long list of Bourbons.
Preservation Hall – Founded in 1961 to help preserve New Orleans’ prized art form of jazz, Preservation Hall is a combination of music venue, nonprofit organization, and touring band. The acoustic concerts are amazingly intimate evenings, where you sit on benches, hang in the doorway, or peer through interior windows and watch an unparalleled performance by an ensemble of local musicians and sometimes visiting international stars. All ages are welcome and shows are at 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10pm every night (except certain holidays and special events). You can either join the queue 30 minutes prior to show time to see if you can get in or buy one of the select number of Big Shot tickets to skip the line. Located in the French Quarter.
Maple Leaf Bar – This iconic and historic joint is filled with drinking and dancing. Tuesday nights with the Rebirth Brass Band are a floor-stomping citywide institution, while Sunday evenings feature the more laid-back Joe Krown Trio. Or maybe someone who is town will stop by – which Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt once did. Located northeast of Tulane and Loyola Universities.
Tipitina’s – First opening in 1977, some of music’s most legendary acts (Willie Nelson, Neville Brothers, Wilco, and Questlove) have graced the stage and many live albums have been recorded here. Sunday nights are devoted to Cajun music and dance. Located on Tchoupitoulas Street between the French Quarter and Audubon Park.
Bacchanal Wine – On a beautiful night, there is nothing better than kicking back on an outdoor patio, listening to fabulous live jazz, and sipping delicious wine. Bacchanal offers a Mediterranean/New Orleans laid-back vibe and is known as New Orleans’ backyard party. Better yet, music begins at 12 noon. In case of rain – or if you’re in need of a beer or cocktail — head to the 2nd-floor bar. Located in Bywater, a bohemian neighborhood east of Frenchman Street.
Siberia Lounge – Diverse acts range from punk, garage rock, and heavy metal bands, to dance parties, comedy, burlesque, and trivia nights. The menu features Slavic soul food. Located a half mile north of The Spotted Cat on Frenchman Street.
Lori is a content writer at Sun Country Airlines. When it comes to what she loves most about Sun Country, it’s all about the affordability and nonstop flights from MSP (oh, and the ease of Terminal 2). Her favorite destinations are the ones she hasn’t been to yet, but can’t wait to explore, including Portland, Austin, and Santa Rosa.