Culture, Music, Sport and Festivals

Music Matters: The best places to hear live music in New Orleans

Rebecca Harley

19th March 2024

Pubs and bars with neon lights in the French Quarter, New Orleans USA

Where better to hear some incredible live music than in the very place where Jazz was born? New Orleans is synonymous with music and as you venture through the city streets, you will not only hear different styles of jazz, but other genres like funk, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll. Get ready to immerse yourself in the sounds of the Big Easy with this short guide to the best places to hear live music in New Orleans.

Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street’s reputation precedes itself. Loud, iconic and synonymous with letting the good times roll, it is one of the oldest streets in North America in New Orleans’ legendary French Quarter. Early jazz musicians entertained customers along Bourbon Street, and today the sound of live music still pours out from every bar and restaurant.

  • Founded in 1969, Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub, is the home of traditional New Orleans jazz with nightly live sessions. It’s an unsophisticated venue – so don’t expect food or cocktails – but the beer is good and the music is even better.
  • The Jazz Playhouse showcases some incredible jazz artists in a glamorous setting. Enjoy one of the bar’s jazz-inspired cocktails, such as the Ella Fitzgerald’s Pearflower Martini, as well as a menu of small bites and appetizers while listening.

 

Frenchmen Street

Frenchmen Street is located away from the hustle and bustle of Bourbon Street, which goes some way to explain why it was once only frequented by locals. However, since the 1980s, its popularity has risen massively, and it is now recognised as one of New Orleans’ best spots for live music. As you wander down this vibrant street, you’ll hear the sounds of jazz, reggae and blues from every window.

  • The Spotted Cat or “The Cat” as it is known by locals, is an authentic, and somewhat eccentric jazz spot offering live music every night of the week. The venue is usually busy thanks to its small size and the caliber of its talent.
  • One of the longest-standing music venues on Frenchmen Street, Blue Nile plays host to local, national and international acts across two floors. The genre of music varies each night, but you can expect to hear from some excellent blues, brass, funk and soul artists.
  • If you fancy an evening of modern New Orleans jazz and great local delicacies, Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, is the place for you. The venue boasts a dining room, music room, and bar, and the reasonably priced menu includes Southern classics, like Soft-Shell Crab Po’Boy, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Étouffée. Children over the age of 13 are welcome too.

 

where else you can enjoy live music in new orleans

Great music can be found throughout New Orleans with great Jazz clubs and bars dotted around the city. You’ll find the streets come alive with music from around 12 noon every day.

  • Tipitina’s on Napoleon Avenue was founded in 1977 and became the legendary Professor Longhair’s venue of choice in his final years of performing. Known as “Tip’s” by the locals, this unpretentious venue is a New Orleans institution, and today, you will find brass, funk, and rock music also performed here.
  • The highly respected Preservation Hall on St. Peter Street has a roster of over 50 local New Orleans jazz musicians. This is one of the only venues in New Orleans where children are encouraged to attend as no alcohol, or drinks of any kind are served here at all.
  • You don’t need to go inside a bar or club to enjoy some great music in New Orleans as street artists can be found performing throughout the French Quarter. Listen to outdoor performers as you watch artists at work in Jackson Square. Peruse souvenirs or grab a bite to eat at the French Market whilst musicians serenade you. Pedestrian Mall on Royal Street is a fantastic spot to head to for al fresco listening. Just remember to have a pocket full of dollar bills to tip anyone that you stop and listen to.

 

Musicians in New Orleans

 

To discover New Orleans’ music scene, browse our range of holidays to the Deep South, including tailormade itineraries exploring the region’s musical heritage.

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