Christy's Guide to New Orleans

Live Music

The amount of incredible, original music in this town is mind-boggling. Take your pick, we have rock, funk, soul, blues, zydeco, Cajun, brass bands, jazz, plus those that mix it up (ie. brass-hop). Rest assured you will not be able to sit still. Unlike some cities where people sit in nice neat rows of seats, stare stoically at the performers, and clap politely, people here get up and dance and revel in the music. The bands have as much fun as the crowds, and many times the line between stage and dance floor becomes a blur.

To find listings, look the "Lagniappe" section in the Friday edition of the Times-Picayune, or the free entertainment publications Gambit Weekly and Offbeat, available at various restuarants and bars and on their web sites.

Frenchman Street, Faubourg Marigny. If you only have one night to go out, go here. A great scene whether you are inside one of the bars enjoying great live music, or just hanging out in the street, sipping a drink and watching people. Home of: Blue Nile, Café Negril, d.b.a., Apple Barrel, Snug Harbor, Yuki and Spotted Cat. Just around the corner is the Dragon's Den, 435 Esplanade Avenue and Balcony Music Club, 504 Esplanade Avenue, and maybe a few others I missed. There's alaso a hip, nighttime, outside market.

Preservation Hall, 726 St. Peter Street, French Quarter. Not a bar or club, a true Jazz Hall, and no refreshments are served but it's a historical destination. It's all about the music and the only music played is traditional jazz and Dixieland and there is no amplification. Get there early to get a place in line. Doors open at 8:00 p.m.

House of Blues, 255 Decatur Street, French Quarter. Unlike the other "star" chains that moved into New Orleans (Planet Hollywood and Fashion Café were both short-lived), House of Blues books great acts, both local and national names, is a good place to see a show and has tasty food.

Tipitina's Uptown, 501 Napoleon Avenue, and Tipitina's French Quarter, 233 N. Peters. Uptown is the original and an institution, however both showcase great live music. (Take a taxi Uptown, parking can be difficult. Or the Magazine St. bus to Napoleon Ave.)

Republic New Orleans , 828 S. Peters Street, Warehouse District. Mostly alternative bands.

Howling' Wolf, 907 S. Peters Street, Warehouse District. Features local live music and touring rock and alternative bands.

Mid-City Lanes Rock 'n' Bowl, NEW LOCATION 3016 S. Carrollton Ave. (at Earhart Boulevard). The new location is great with a better layout than the former. And no stairs to climb. If you have kids, bring them. One of the few places under age kids can see live music. Click here for an article about the new location.

Maple Leaf, 8316 Oak Street, Riverbend. Friday and Sunday nights is usually zydeco music, and Walter "Wolfman" Washington holds court every Saturday. Rest of the week it's brass band jazz, rock and blues. Wear something cool, because when the music gets going, people start dancing and it can get mighty hot inside. (Streetcar stop: Oak Street)

Le Bon Temps Roule, 4801 Magazine Street. A former hang out of mine. Great bar food. Good local music offered nightly, some nights for free. Free oysters on Fridays!

Dos Jefes Cigar Bar, 5535 Tchoupitoulas St., Uptown. Good beer and whiskey selection. And of course cigars. There's a patio out back for the nice nights or if you don't like the smoke. Music nightly, no cover, but a $1 per drink increase during performances. Pool table. We miss their kitchen.

The big daddy of music is, of course the annual Jazz & Heritage Festival held every spring, last weekend of April and first weekend of Spring. Not only a sampling of great music but also food, art and local culture. Heaven on earth. But note, this is not your stuffy get all dressed up and wear heels kind of jazz festival. It's hot, it's humid and if it rains, it's muddy. Dress cool and comfortable. Bring sun screen and hand wipes. Wear a hat. And be prepared to spend money. There are other festivals and almost all festivals have music.

The "warm-up" to the JazzFest, is the French Quarter Festival, which is ALL local talent (unlike JazzFest). Awesome music, great food and FREE! Held in April. The group that put this on also does Sachmo Summer Fest in honor of Louis Armstrong. It too has great music, food and is free but it's during August which is hellishly hot and humid.

Another great free music event is Wednesday at the Square, Downtown, at Lafayette Square (see web site for directions, dates and offerings.) Some of the best local musical talent is featured... and did I mention it's free? Concessions - food and drink booths - keep it free. Includes local artists.

One of the beauties of the New Orleanas is you can always find good, live music playing somewhere for free.

Some festival calendars: (for the whole state)

Christy's Guide to New Orleans

Overview, weather, getting around, etc. | City regions defined | Fun stuff | Art and culture | The dark side | Kids and kids at heart | Dine like a local | Bars and clubs | Live music | For java heads | For the sweet tooth | For dogs and their owners

Updated: July 4, 2015