New Orleans is a dream come true for music lovers. It may be the birthplace of jazz, but it is awash in music of every type — zydeco, blues, rock, country western, hip-hop, folk. You name it, it’s here.
With so many choices, where should you head after the PSP Expo hall closes? We came up with a Top 10 list, based on hot spots that consistently draw raves.
This iconic venue is all about preserving New Orleans style jazz, and has been for 55 years. Set in an unassuming building in the French Quarter, it features rousing jazz sets just about every night. And, of course, the “house band” — the Preservation Hall Jazz Band — often plays there when it isn’t touring. 726 St. Peters St.; (504) 522-2841.
This cozy little spot features local musicians, including Miss Sophie Lee, a jazz crooner who just happens to be co-owner of The Three Muses, a club nearby.
There’s no cover charge or expensive drinks at the Spotted Cat — just great tunes and affordable beverages. 623 Frenchmen St.; (504) 943-3887.
Located in the Uptown district, this is the place to hear N’awlins music and … poetry on Sunday afternoons.
Regular performers include the Rebirth Brass Band, which has been stirring things up at The Leaf on Tuesday evenings since 1990, and the Joe Krown Trio, creating a mellow vibe on Sunday nights since 2007.
If you’re hungry and feeling adventurous, there’s a free crawfish boil at the bar, which may include “surprise” ingredients, such as sausage and even an entire pig’s head. 8316 Oak St.; (504) 866-9359.
Not sure where this name came from, but we do know where this small bar’s reputation came from: It attracts exceptional local talent. Not only that, but the musicians are allowed to set the cover charge each night and keep the proceeds. Another smoke-free establishment, it has quite the beer lineup, including numerous local and regional brews. 2828 Canal St.; (844) 244-2543.
Yes, it’s a chain, but HOB consistently lands on must-see lists for the New Orleans music scene. Opening in the French Quarter in 1994, this location has a cozier vibe than some of its other locations and has hosted music masters over the years such as Fats Domino, Trombone Shorty, Eric Clapton and Todd Rundgren. There are three performance areas: the Parish, main hall and Voodoo Garden. 225 Decatur St.; (504) 529-2624.
Small but mighty — that’s Snug Harbor. It can only hold 80 people, but its small stage hosts shows at 8 and 10 p.m. every day.
This jazz venue has been around for more than three decades and has seen the likes of the Charmaine Neville Band and the extraordinary Marsalis family musicians . 626 Frenchmen St.; (504) 949-0696.
For a change of pace, head for this spot in the St. Roch neighborhood. It features punk rock and metal bands, the cover charge is low and the food is Slavic (think stuffed cabbage and blinis). And if you’re in the mood for comedy or burlesque, you can find it here as well. 2227 St. Claude Ave.; (504) 265-8855.
This 39-year-old club has seen ‘em all: Willie Nelson, the Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Pearl Jam and many, many more. Out front there’s even a walk of fame honoring New Orleans music legends. Set near the Mississippi River, Tipitina’s is dedicated to the late Professor Longhair (Henry “Roy” Byrd), a local R&B artist whose image dominates the stage. 501 Napoleon Ave.; (504) 895-8477.
This Southern version of a popular New York bar boasts a huge drink and beer selection and was one of the first in New Orleans to offer a smoke-free environment. It’s been called “hip, but not trendy.”
Whatever you call it, this is a place to catch great local and regional music acts of all types, from jazz to indie rock to folk and more, nightly. 618 Frenchmen St.; (504) 942-3731.
It may be hard to believe, but this venerable bar and 19-lane bowling alley also is a popular music venue.
People go there to bowl and to enjoy New Orleans food such as jambalaya, gumbo and beignets — and the blues, zydeco and honky tonk. Bowlers can see the stage from every lane, so the game goes on even as the musicians do. Reservations advised. 3000 S. Carrollton Ave.; (504) 861-1700.
It’s no exaggeration to call Frenchmen Street the music mecca of New Orleans. Located at the edge of the French Quarter in The Marigny neighborhood, it boasts more than 20 bars, nightclubs and restaurants showcasing live music — not to mention musicians playing on street corners just about every night. At press time many venues were still filling in their calendars for Oct. 30 to Nov. 4, when the Expo will be in town, but we did find some upcoming shows to whet your appetite:
The Spotted Cat Music Club
623 Frenchmen St.; (504) 943-3887.
- Oct. 30: Pfister Sisters, 2-6 p.m.
- Oct. 31: Dominick Grillo & the Frenchmen St. All Stars, 6-10 p.m.
- Nov. 1: Smokin’ Time Jazz Club, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.
- Nov. 2: Shotgun Jazz Band, 6-10 p.m.
- Nov. 3: Miss Sophie Lee, 6-10 p.m.
- Nov. 4: Andy Forest, 4-8 p.m.
508 Frenchmen St.; (504) 371-5543.
- Oct. 30: Brad Walker, 7-10 p.m.
- Oct. 31: Chicken & Waffles Band, 5-7 p.m.; Aurora Nealand & Royal Roses, 7-10 p.m.
- Nov. 1: New Orleans Swinging Gypsies, 4-6:30 p.m.; Gregory Agid Quartet, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
- Nov. 2: New Orleans Jazz Vipers, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
- Nov. 3: Good for Nothin’ Band, 4-7 p.m.; Sweet Substitute Jazz Band, 7-10 p.m.; Dysfunktional Bone, 10 p.m.-3 a.m.;
- Nov. 4: Shotgun Jazz Band, 7-10 p.m.
The Dragon’s Den
435 Esplanade Ave.; (504) 940-4446.
- Oct. 30: The Zen Future Sessions Jazz Jam with Anuraag Pendyal and Dignity Reve, 7-10 p.m.; Church, 10 p.m.
- Oct. 31: New Orleans Jazz Manouche, 7-11 p.m.
- Nov. 2: Reggae Night with DJ T-Roy, 10 p.m.-3 a.m.