This article provides ten ways to get the best musical experience out of your time in New Orleans, including free options. We cover ways to find the best music in and out of the French Quarter, indoor and outdoor, recorded and live, traditional and innovative. Because we have so much live music, a calendar can be a huge help. WWOZ, our local listener-supported heritage station, can be a great planning tool.
Explore New Orleans
I'm not sure, but I'm almost positive, that all music comes from New Orleans. Does it? The historians can apply themselves to the question, but meanwhile, visitors and residents alike find themselves offered an embarrassment of musical riches, both day and night, in this town: You'll mingle with brass-band street parades and dance sweaty-haired to post-midnight funk jams and sway to hot touring acts performing in glimmering fin de siecle amusement palaces. There's no closing time in New Orleans, the city that probably invented American nightlife -- so head out into that swampy, sultry, electric night, and see where it takes you. The ornate walls of One Eyed Jacks' odd-capacity showroom are edged with scarlet sparkle-vinyl banquettes and hung with midth-century pinup nudes painted on black velvet -- a louche, swank atmosphere appropriate to its history as an old French Quarter movie house and reputed speakeasy, the latter of which apparently left the club with a pair of ghosts. A slightly raked floor means there's not a bad sightline in the room, which is the premier downtown New Orleans destination for touring indie acts, hip local bands, and DJ nights, like the long-running and beloved Thursday night "Fast Times" '80s dance party. College kids mix with old punks and visitors, too, who are lucky enough to wander into the coolest spot in the touristy Quarter. 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. It's far from pretentious: The laid-back barroom festooned with vintage signs will keep you plied with Louisiana craft brews. 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.
When planning a trip to New Orleans, most visitors look forward to indulging in amazing food and listening to some truly exceptional live music. Not only is NOLA regarded as the birthplace, circa the late 19th century, of jazz, but the city has also maintained and expanded upon its diverse, ever-evolving auditory offerings over the past century-plus. This venerable institution crowns the to-do list of NOLA visitors and residents alike. Easily accessible in the heart of the French Quarter, the intimate club hosts rollicking, brassy jazz performances almost every night of the year. A relative newcomer to the scene, The Three Muses opened in and quickly distinguished itself not only for holding its own when its 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 fare, 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.
I keep busy working as a blogger, photojournalist, community manager, consultant, curator and more. The opportunities and challenges keep getting bigger, better and more meaningful for me every year! Favorite destinations are many and my list of must-see places to visit seems to get longer the more I travel! I also love heading back to the States every chance I find and cannot get enough of the Deep South — Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and the Carolinas — and Hawaii holds a particularly special place in my heart as well. New Orleans is home to a rich musical tradition. Blues, funk, jazz, zydeco, rock 'n' roll, country — the city can claim at least some responsibility for just about every genre of American music. Making a move to the Crescent City for a taste of live music, but in a jam as to where you should go? Here's a look at a sextet comprised of some of the best music venues in the world which all happen to be located in New Orleans. Among the many Frenchmen Street bars and venues featuring performances is the Apple Barrel, where there's live jazz and blues every night of the week. Expect a friendly local crowd, cheap drinks, and amazing acoustics.