Where to see Live Music in New Orleans
Music flows through New Orleans, as important to the people of the city as the oxygen they breathe. Artists such as Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong, Ernie K. Doe, and The Soul Rebels proudly come from New Orleans.
The city is probably most famous for being the birthplace of Jazz but did you know it is also arguably the birthplace of Rock and Roll? And that many of the greatest musicians in the USA still play here on a regular basis?
The best place to find up to date information on who’s playing where Check out WWOZ’s Live Wire. WWOZ is a New Orleans community radio station and should be your go to for everything Musical in the city. Want to know more about where these clubs are and what they are like? Read on!
New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz and we still have a lively traditional Jazz scene today with world renown jazz acts playing nightly all over town.
Preservation Hall (726 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116) was founded in the French Quarter in 1961, to honor and protect the rich history of traditional New Orleans jazz. It is notable for its history of embracing racial integration long before it became the norm. Today, The Hall offers traditional jazz performances over 350 nights a year, in a modest space with plain wooden floors and no air-conditioning.
You don’t have to go all the way out to Frenchmen street to see live Jazz. Located on the famous Bourbon Street Fritzel’s European Jazz Bar (733 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70116)
was founded in 1969 and plays live jazz every night of the week. In addition to a traditional New Orleans house band, the bar welcomes many of the most popular jazz and blues artists of the today. Fritzel’s prides itself on creating an enjoyable, “home away from home” atmosphere, with more of a relaxed, mature vibe, as opposed to the music you typically find on Bourbon Street.
The Jazz Playhouse (300 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130)
is housed inside the upscale Royal Sonesta hotel, where you’ll enjoy fine cocktails and appetizers with intimate performances. In addition to jazz artists, The Jazz Playhouse has a reputation as one of the best places to go for equally enjoyable music and luxurious atmosphere.
The Davenport Lounge is an elegant jazz bar in the CBD (Central Business District), hidden away on the 3rd floor of the Ritz-Carlton. The Lounge’s house band feature’s their namesake, Jeremy Davenport, who performs a few times a week. For fine dining and elegant jazz, The Davenport can’t be overlooked.
The Peacock Room is the crown jewel of the Fontenot, being known for its opulence and eccentricity. The Room offers live music several nights a week, featuring their very own house band, Da Lovebirds. The Peacock Room is known to draw the attention of many of New Orleans’ most influential tastemakers, who come to socialize under the bar’s wild patterns and rich textures.
Next to Frenchmen Street is one of jazz’s most bucket list destinations: The New Orleans Jazz Museum. No list of jazz venues in New Orleans would be complete without a trip to The Jazz Museum. Several generations of musicians are represented in this collection, offering a glimpse into the legendary past of one of America’s most unique creations. Featuring interactive exhibits and education for all ages as well as musical performances, the museum is a must see for anyone interested in the history of the art form.
This is ‘The Spot’ for standing, crowded, dive bar vibes. The Spotted Cat is located on the vibrant Frenchmen Street and its tiny stage is known as the quintessential New Orleans jazz club. Numerous films, commercials, and famous photos have been created at The Spotted Cat, making it one of the most recognizable clubs in the city. The Cat features around thirty different bands performing in various styles, creating a musical tapestry that’s sure to fit any taste.
Snug Harbor (626 Frenchmen St., New Orleans, LA 70116) is another Frenchmen Street staple, featuring many different live bands on every night of the week. The atmosphere here is upscale and intimate, the perfect setting for live music with a meal. The Harbor is also known for their flavorful creole food, some of the best in the area. With over three decades of experience, Snug Harbor is a ‘can’t miss’ for anyone searching for a fine jazz experience on Frenchmen Street.
Also making its home on the famous Frenchmen Street, D.B.A. is a live music venue that was established in the Spring of 2000. The venue is known for hosting eclectic local and regional acts, most of which have low or no cover charge. They also livestream many of their shows online, fully embracing technology in the age of the pandemic and social distancing.
Three Muses offers two shows nightly, helping add to the color and vibrant music of Frenchmen Street. This live music bar also specializes in American comfort food with an Asian twist, creating a unique experience for both the stomach and the ears. Featuring a range of local talent, Three Muses is another ‘must-see’ on Frenchman Street.
The Maple Leaf (8316 Oak St., New Orleans, LA 70130) makes its home in Uptown New Orleans, offering many different styles of music. Drop-ins and jam sessions are frequent, with local legends, as well as nationally known artists. New and growing musicians have come through The Leaf, showing off their talents on a stage shared by some of the greats of the past several decades.
Another venue hidden inside a luxurious hotel, The Bayou Bar has a history of good drinks and better atmosphere, and is famous for being a favorite of both Truman Capote and Frank Sinatra. The bar allows Uptown musicians to sit in on their Steinway piano, as well as allowing visitors to try their hand at the keys. The Bayou Bar is the perfect place for classy live music while, and makes a great end to any Garden District Tour.
“Tipitina” is a widely covered song written and made famous by Professor Longhair. The world famous Tipitina’s is in Uptown New Orleans, featuring daily shows with standing room only. Known by the locals as ‘Tips,’ this bar is dedicated to the legendary Professor Longhair himself. Tipitina’s stage has gone on to influence many of the biggest names in New Orleans.
Bacchanal Wine is a self-described ‘wine laboratory’ where small plates, fine wine, and good music are the focus. Located in The hip Bywater neighborhood. Growing from a simple wine shop to a well-loved speakeasy styled venue, Bacchanal has had a diverse and interesting history, even featuring celebrity chefs during the recovery period after hurricane Katrina. Located off the beaten path in the Bywater neighborhood, Bacchanal Wine is popular with the locals. Live music is offered six nights a week, and the atmosphere is truly one of a kind.
New Orleans is so much more than ‘just’ Jazz. Punk, Metal, Funk, Dance, Electronica, Techno and pretty much anything else you can think of, has a home here in New Orleans. While you can hear every incarnation of classic jazz and blues on Frenchmen Street, many newer and more experimental clubs have coalesced on Saint Claude in The Marigny neighborhood. Drag and burlesque shows are frequent fare at the Allways Lounge and Cabaret, with more diverse listings at the Hi Ho Lounge and the St. Roch Tavern.
Here are the spots for live music in New Orleans that aren’t solely dedicated to Jazz.
Creeping on the edge of Frenchmen Street is the world famous, 2 story bar and live music venue known as The Dragon’s Den. This laid-back space is known to jam anything from jazz to techno to reggae on their dance floor- it’s also known to be the former home of British occultist Aleister Crowley. If you want to watch a live band, in a relaxed, casual atmosphere that once belonged to a famed occultist, The Dragon’s Den is the place.
The Mother-in-Law Lounge was a live music venue, pub and a shrine to New Orleans’ beloved legend, Ernie K-Doe. K-Doe was known for his song “Mother-in-Law,” a national hit in 1961. Ernie and his wife, musician Antoinette K-Doe, ran the lounge until their respective deaths. In its hay day, the Mother-in-Law Lounge saw some of New Orleans’ best talent, both as performers and patrons. After being closed for nearly two years, another local legend, trumpetist Kermit Ruffins, reopened the spot as Kermit’s Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge in 2014. Covered in a large mural depicting musicians, the outside of the building pays tribute to its history. The lounge lives on as a New Orleans icon from the 60s.
AllWays is an alternative Cabaret theater known for plays, comedies, erotic poetry, burlesque performances, drag shows and indie music in a funky, social media friendly, setting. Let’s be honest- you can’t see a ‘jock-strap lube wrestling show’ just anywhere. AllWays accepts all people and is an absolute must-stop for alternative fun in the Marigny neighborhood.
HiHo is an underground arts venue in the Marigny neighborhood, where you can catch live music (and drink specials!) every night of the week. You’ll hear everything from hip-hop, funk, to indie rock. While you jam out, enjoy small plates made with local, New Orleans sourced ingredients.
Bluegrass may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of NOLA. Like we said, the New Orleans music scene truly has something for everyone. The Bluegrass Pickin’ Party has been playing Bluegrass music at the HiHo Lounge, every monday night, for more than a decade.
Just a few minutes from the French Quarter is the alternative music spot of New Orleans. Saturn Bar is known for hipster/punk vibes, cheap drinks, live music, and the legendary Mod Dance parties. After a temporary closure during the pandemic, the bar is back with new owners and the same great dance parties. Saturn Bar has a dance night for everyone- Cumbia? Check. 90s rave? Yep. No Diggity? No problem. Whatever you like to dance to, you’ll find a night at Saturn Bar that fits.
Most people come to Banks Street Bar and Grill for the nightly live music with no cover (yes, you read that right!). This is a fun dive bar in the middle of the city, where you can catch anything from punk, rock or hip hop. When the weather is nice, you can sit under oak trees outside.
Named after the city’s motto, Les Bon Temps (translated as ‘Let the Good Times Roll,) this iconic bar in Uptown New Orleans boasts “the best damn live music in town.” Les Bon Temps is a non-stop party, open 24/7, and often graced by performances from New Orleans beloved Soul Rebels.
Looking for a bohemian coffee shop with couches, oversized chairs, and a general comfy living room vibe to accompany your live music? You’ve found it at Neutral Ground. In current times, Neutral Ground is open to the sidewalk on Fridays and Saturdays. Check out their Facebook page for the most current information.
This is Uptown’s newest live music and local art gem, dedicated to supporting New Orleans talent. Gasa Gasa throws weekly events such as art exhibits, music shows, and even film screenings. The building itself is covered in artwork and the cozy little outdoor space is the perfect place to grab some air.
St. Roch Tavern is a longstanding neighborhood dive bar in the St. Roch neighborhood. Known for pretty much everything associated with a good time in New Orleans: cheap drinks, good Brazilian food and live music. This joint is a favorite with the local crusty punk crowd- expect loud music, memorable nights, and a party hard atmosphere, especially during shows. Monday’s are known for Country Music Night featuring live country acts. Chef Raquel Oliveira and Luana Perrotta run Tropicália kitchen Monday-Thursday 4-10 pm offering up excellent Brazilian food that can’t be missed.
Busking in New Orleans has a long and storied history, going all the way back to the jug bands of the 19th century. The city is known for its music, and it pours from every sidewalk and stoop, often mixing in the air to create new experiences. A visitor can easily catch dozens of different musical artists in a single day’s visit to NOLA, representing a wide range of musical tastes. Some of the best places to encounter buskers are Royal Street, Bourbon Street, and Frenchman Street- but great music has been known to spontaneously manifest all over New Orleans.
Second Lines are parades that happen every Sunday, except during the hottest days of summer. Rooted in jazz funerals, there exists a long tradition of Second Lines in New Orleans, another thing that makes the city’s parade culture so unique. Traffic is stopped to allow the parades passage and vendors follow along with cool drinks.
Second Lines also follow weddings (consisting of guests and the band) and funerals (The Second line traditionally was a references to the mourners following the band.). Check out if there are any upcoming second lines by visiting WWOZ
New Orleans has so much live music to experience and so many different ways of experiencing it, from classy jazz joints to dive bars, to hotels, and boutiques. Whether you’re looking for jazz, Rock N Roll, bluegrass, country or even a rave, NOLA’s music scene has something unique for you.
We trust that this guide has helped give you an in-depth look at the rich and varied music in New Orleans. Questions? Wanna share your favorite place to catch live music in New Orleans? Comment below!