Though there is plenty to do in the Big Easy, listening to live bands is almost always on the top of every visitor’s list and there are several venues all over the city that provide great music. From Uptown to downtown, the French Quarter and Mid-City, New Orleans has music every single night of the week.
The Big Easy is known as the birthplace of traditional jazz, but blues, roots, R&B and rock music have all been influenced by the city’s musicians. For instance, Louisiana blues, developed in the 1940s and '50s in and around New Orleans, is rooted in the city’s rich blues traditions that stretched back generations earlier. Strongly influenced by jazz and incorporated Caribbean influences, Louisiana blues is dominated by piano and saxophone and can be heard in several clubs today.
Louisiana blues is dominated by piano and saxophone
Located in the Chateau LeMoyne Hotel and just steps from Bourbon Street, RF’s is a spot where locals and visitors alike meet for food, cocktails and live music. With a wide range of blues and jazz musicians playing nightly, the French Quarter establishment hosts vocalists, guitarists and songwriters playing classic blues and modern jazz. RF’s does not have a cover charge, leaving guests to freely indulge in live local music. Centrally located in the French Quarter, RF’s hosts tourists looking for a music venue as well as residents who call the venue their own. Beyond hosting stellar musical acts, the atmosphere at RF’s alone draws crowds as well. RF’s boasts a large indoor space and a beautiful patio, making it an ideal location for parties or larger gatherings of friends.
Food and drinks are served 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Named as one of Esquire magazine’s “Best Bars in America,” The Backroom at Buffa’s hosts some of the most popular acts in New Orleans. Blues guitar aficionados, rising stars of open-mic nights, fans of traditional jazz and even silent movie buffs love the programming available at Buffa’s. Tagged as “the best little bar you never heard of,” Buffa’s owners say they hear the following all the time: “I always pass by that place and think about stopping in.” Located on the border of the French Quarter on Esplanade Avenue since 1939, Buffa’s Bar and Restaurant is a true New Orleans-style neighborhood bar. Food and drinks are served 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reservations are not necessary though coming early to get a good seat is recommended, especially when there is live music.
Chickie Wah Wah is another music bar in New Orleans specializing in quality music, food and spirits. With a wide range of live music almost every night, it has earned a place as one of the top clubs in the city. Dale Triguero, owner and talent booker for the club, knows a thing or two about music and music venues. Gracing the stage at the club are blues veterans such as Will Kimbrough and Papa Mali, up and coming singer-songwriters and local favorites such as Tom McDermott and Meschiya Lake, all of whom have helped to build a strong and loyal following.
“Chickie Wah Wah is simply one of the best music venues in New Orleans, which is saying a hell of a lot. Chickie’s talent roster is unique: one of the most inspired, interesting, and plain fun, in the city,” says New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival CEO and Director Quint Davis. Davis has been following music, musicians and clubs since the 1960s and a recommendation from him is high praise.
Fans of traditional jazz and even silent movie buffs love the programming
From traditional jazz to brass bands, blues and funk, Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar is a venue that has something everyone can appreciate. There are nights designated for Mardi Gras Indians practices and when there isn’t live music playing, the club has an extensive R&B jukebox. “Ooh Poo Pah Doo” was a hit song back in 1960 for New Orleans’ own Jessie Hill. His daughter, Judy Broadus, along with her husband and nephews decided to open a club in the Treme neighborhood on Orleans Avenue where they were raised, to honor Jessie Hill and his legacy. Hill and Broadus are related to many musicians, including Trumpet Black and Glen and James Andrews, horn players who have made names for themselves in the city and around the world.
Many nights Judy and Brian will put on a pot of crawfish or beans, and feed whoever is hungry enough to eat. It’s all part of the family atmosphere that exists at the Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar and all guests are welcomed.
The Marigny and Bywater are neighborhoods that have been labelled as hipster havens. Home to young professionals and artists, many flock to Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits on Poland Avenue for libations and live music. With an eclectic array of jazz and blues bands, Bacchanal’s visitors must sit outside to hear all the musical offerings. On warm spring and summer nights, arriving early is a must in order to find a seat.
There are nights designated for Mardi Gras Indians practices
Finding great music in New Orleans is possible in almost every part of town. From neighborhood favorites in the French Quarter, to small quaint spots further out in the city, travelers can take their pick of world-class jazz, blues and more.