Music is everywhere in New Orleans. Brass bands explode on the corner of the street, kids turn buckets into drums and buskers serenade you everywhere you go. It’s like the whole city is collaborating on a long, continuous set that never ends. Eighty percent of the city was flooded by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In the 15 years since, they’ve rebuilt extensively and become stronger than ever, forever partying and always playing music. As their motto goes – ‘laissez les bons temps rouler’ – a Cajun French phrase that means ‘let the good times roll Jazz, rock, funk, R&B, zydeco, country, classical, gospel, swing, hip-hop, bounce—if there’s a musical genre, you can expect to hear it. Keep an ear to the ground … and your dancing shoes on. And if you’re a music fan visiting this city, keep watch for the top music venues that will give you the best musical experience during your vacation.
Here are the city’s best music venues encompass a full range of styles, from classy jazz to down-and-dirty funk and more.
1. The Spotted Cat
This great little place on Frenchmen Street, removed from the crowds and chaos of Bourbon Street. This charmer kicks the evening off with early afternoon performances of live local music.
The tiny, softly lit bar is mostly standing room but still manages to pack in area favorites such as the six-member jazz band the Cottonmouth Kings and Miss Sophie Lee, a jazz crooner and co-owner of nearby The Three Muses.Bartenders are lively and friendly, pouring good drinks at reasonable prices. Cash-only with no cover, there’s a one-drink minimum per set that’s best spent on a cold Abita brew—you won’t find any fancy cocktails here.
2. Preservation Hall
Preservation Hall is a music venue, a nonprofit organization, and a touring band all rolled into one. Easily accessible in the heart of the French Quarter, the intimate club hosts rollicking, brassy jazz performances almost every night of the year. The weathered wooden walls of Preservation Hall’s narrow showroom still look the same as they did more than 50 years ago when a group of bohemian fans started hosting pass-the-hat traditional jazz concerts there featuring artists who were at least as old as the music itself. Lines start forming just after sunset for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, or one of its associated acts, to play nightly sets at 8, 9, and 10 pm. The hall featured special guests, who have included the Alabama Shakes, Robert Plant, Sharon Jones, and even old-school bounce rapper DJ Jubilee. While the hall doesn’t serve alcohol, you’re allowed to BYOB in any plastic container, so make sure to pick up some Solo cups on your way over.
This windowless joint on busy, industrial St. Claude Avenue started as an appropriately dark home base for New Orleans’ storied punk and metal scene, plus notable touring acts from that genre. The booking has since expanded to include regular gigs from touring veterans Hawkwind and Walter Lure, psychedelic rock, goth DJs, comedy, and burlesque, plus free happy hour shows for local singer-songwriters and old-timey string bands. The covers are low, the bands are trashy, and if you’re not into punk, never fear: Siberia’s calendar boasts other fun events such as Tuesday night trivia and Comic Strip, an evening of comedy and burlesque rolled into one. If you get peckish, hit up Siberia’s Slavic menu for cheap blinis, stuffed cabbage, and other Eastern European gut-stickers.
4. Chickie Wah Wah
Just off the streetcar line in the mostly residential Mid-City neighborhood, Chickie Wah Wah — named for the tune by ’60s rhythm and blues icons Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns — is more than anything else a temple to the song. This music bar is a great place for visitors to relax and hang out with their friends. Chickie Wah Wah is a smoke-free club due to the artists’ strict no-smoking policy. The room adapts to bands of different sizes and welcomes different styles. Each artist or band that plays at the club is in charge of setting the entrance fee for their visitors. But staff pays painstaking attention to sound, which makes it the best spot in town to hear local and touring singer-songwriters, folkies, and Americana artists. Here music lovers can dress in any attire; the bar is laid back and allows casual outfits.
5. The three Muses
If New Orleans’ music scene could be traced to a single street, it would definitely be Frenchmen. The three-block section in the city’s now-hipstery Marigny district is packed with some of NOLA’s most well known and frequented bars and clubs, including The Spotted Cat and The Maison. A relative newcomer to the scene, The Three Muses opened in 2010 and quickly distinguished itself not only for holding its own when it comes to heavy-hitting musical acts—hosting lively performances of hot jazz, country and western, and piano—but also for its superb food and drink offerings. Dive into a plate of bistro-inflected fares, such as beer-braised pork belly, grab a house cocktail such as the Spaghetti Western (bourbon, Campari, rosemary syrup), and soak in the good vibes.
6. Bullet’s Sport Bar
The Treme neighborhood is a historic incubator for New Orleans’ many homegrown party sounds — funk, brass-band music, R&B — and the laid-back Bullet’s rests in the heart of it. Acts like the raucous, all-female Original Pinettes Brass Band and enthusiastically weed-friendly trumpeter Kermit Ruffins play regular weekly gigs at Bullet’s, which usually start fairly early (between 6 and 9 pm) and attract a relaxed crowd of grown folks. Food trucks park outside during gigs, and drink specials are kind to the wallet.
7. Snug Harbor
Occupying a renovated 1800s storefront in the Marigny, this jazz club has been a New Orleans staple for more than 30 years. Its cozy exposed-brick interior is often accented by twinkling multicolored lights, but patrons’ eyes—and ears—are typically directed towards the small, piano-dominated stage. In this space young musicians gain real-world music experience from veteran bandleaders. The Bistro is only able to host 80 people. Here acts such as the Charmaine Neville Band and members of that jazz royalty family, the Marsalis, appear nightly. A seafood-focused menu that highlights the area’s peerless Gulf shrimp is a draw, too.
8. Maple Leaf Bar
Long and narrow, with a handsome tin ceiling that glows gold under soft-lit sconces, Maple Leaf Bar hosts some of the city’s best acts nightly. Tuesday nights with the Rebirth Brass Band are a floor-stomping citywide institution, while Sunday evenings feature the more laid back Joe Krown Trio. This was also the home bar of James Booker, one of the most important musicians to ever come out of the city. If you haven’t heard of him before, but the documentary Bayou Maharajah in your Netflix cue. The bar offers a free crawfish boil that’s been known to include odds ‘n’ ends such as sausage, pork chops, and even a whole pig’s head. Located in New Orleans’ stately Uptown district, Maple Leaf is a nice departure from the French Quarter scene.
9. Rock ‘n’ Bowl
Located in the heart of New Orleans, Rock ‘n’ Bowlis a unique venue that promotes both live music and bowling. Due to its rustic Southern roots, the famous bar and bowling alley tend to have a full house every night. To make sure they receive a bowling lane and place to dine, patrons must reserve lanes and tables long in advance.
We have come to the end of the Nine top venues in New Orleans for a music lover. Let us know what your vacation experience was like in any of this city? Share your thoughts concerning this article in the comment section down below. We will be happy to hear from you.