New Orleans, Louisiana has a rich history of music, especially when it comes to jazz. On any given street, visitors can hear the familiar notes of trumpets and trombones. Countless artists are associated with the city, including Louis Armstrong, Dr. John, and Trombone Shorty.
But the buskers are just the beginning of the city’s music scene. Dozens of bars and venues span every neighborhood in the city, often tight spaces for intimate performances. The city also hosts annual festivals like Jazz Fest and Voodoo. For more suggestions, read this story on Thrillist.
While Bourbon Street is the most well-known thoroughfare in the city, it’s Frenchman Street in the Marigny that brings locals in search of music. The area has gained popularity since the 1980s, coming through Hurricane Katrina relatively unscathed.
Like Frenchmen Street, the area around Jackson Square is popular for street musicians. The park itself, named for Andrew Jackson, recognizes the place where the Louisiana Purchase was signed.
Starting in the 1920s, artists and musicians started gathering around the park’s iron gates, displaying their work and accepting tips. The stretch in front of Saint Louis Cathedral is almost always lively.
Maple Leaf Bar
Located in the Carrollton neighborhood, the Maple Leaf Bar first opened in 1974. Since then, it has consistently held live music seven nights a week, mostly jazz, funk, rock, and zydeco, as well as poetry readings.
Over the years, members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band have played here, along with James Booker, Bruce Springsteen, and, more recently, The Revivalists. Live albums have also been recorded at the bar.
New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
The New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park was created in 1994 and covers 4 acres, including historic venues in the French Quarter and neighboring Tremé.
The visitor’s center near Cafe du Monde hosts live music performances, ranger talks, and exhibits featuring artifacts related to New Orleans music.
One Eyed Jacks
One Eyed Jacks is another favorite in the French Quarter, this hip venue hosts a variety of performances, including jazz, rock, and funk, as well as comedy and burlesque shows. It’s one of the best places to see up-and-coming acts before they hit it big.
As one of the South’s best music venues, Preservation Hall is a must-see for first-time visitors to the city. It started in the 1950s as an art gallery in an 1800s home that invited musicians to play for customers. Since then it’s become one of the most recognized spaces for jazz.
People line up in front of the venue an hour before each performance, where they sit on small cushions on the floor for the intimate shows from the house band. Tickets can be purchased for an added fee in advance or in cash at the door.
Countless musicians of nearly every genre have performed at the space, known for the banana on its sign. Jane’s Addiction, Phish, Dr. John, and the Blind Boys of Alabama have all recorded live albums at Tipitina’s.
They hold performances in conjunction with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and their foundation supports struggling musicians.
Looking for a place to stay while in New Orleans? The Pontchartrain Hotel in the Garden District is close to venues and has a popular restaurant and rooftop bar. Airbnb is another option, like this guest suite in the Marigny.