Discover the Music of New Orleans

by french-quarter-phantoms


The streets are alive with the sound of music in New Orleans. From jazz wafting from bars along Frenchmen Street to catching a second line marching band boogie on down the road, there is endless opportunity to catch some great live music.

Frenchmen Street
Altered version of original photo by Aleksandr Zykov licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Frenchmen Street

Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA, USA

Frenchman Street is one of our favorite places to catch live music. Often described as "Bourbon Street for locals," it’s located right outside of the French Quarter, making it an easy stroll from most downtown hotels. At this strip of music venues and clubs, you’ll hear local and authentic music from Jazz to Funk to Blues. Some of our favorite venues along the strip include the The Spotted Cat Music Club , Blue Nile , Three Muses , and Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro . Stroll along the street and pop your head in and out of venues and let the music grab you. We recommend visiting on Thursday or Sunday nights for a more relaxed vibe to avoid the high crowds (don’t worry--there’s always plenty of people out regardless of the day or time). If you’re feeling peckish, one of the best and most overlooked restaurants in New Orleans is a Creole-Italian spot on Frenchman Street above the Apple Barrel Bar: Adolfo's . Order the famous "Ocean sauce" on top of fish, steak, or veal and have one of the best meals of your life. They only take cash, but it’s worth it. Also if you are looking for that tattoo or piercing to commemorate your trip, check out Electric Ladyland Tattoo .

Preservation Hall
Altered version of original photo by Cory Doctorow licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Preservation Hall

726 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

One of the most famous and important music venues in New Orleans, the story of Preservation Hall begins in the 1950s when jazz music had taken a backseat to the overwhelming popularity of rock and roll. Locals banded together to create Preservation Hall in 1961 to "protect, preserve, and perpetuate Traditional New Orleans Jazz". Today, it boasts a collective of 50+ master musicians offering performances almost every night of the year. It’s an intimate, acoustic experience where music is the star; no food or drinks are served. Preservation Hall offers shows most nights on the hour throughout the evening. General admission is first come first serve and there is generally a line, so check out their calendar online and show up early. We recommend purchasing VIP or "Big Shot Reservations" online in advance to guarantee yourself one of the best seats in the house--totally worth it. It’s also worth mentioning here that no trip to New Orleans would be complete without a walk up and down Bourbon Street, located half a block away from Preservation Hall. If you want to experience something a little weird on that journey, check out The Dungeon located a block over on Toulouse street. Not for the faint of heart, don't say you weren't warned.

Kermit's Treme Mother in Law Lounge
Altered version of original photo by Mark Gstohl licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Kermit's Treme Mother in Law Lounge

1500 N Claiborne Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

Named after Ernie K-Doe's #1 Pop and R&B hit "Mother-in-Law" and formally known as simply the Mother-in-Law Lounge, this is one of the most iconic and historic spots for music in New Orleans. Located in the famed Treme neighborhood, you can find some world-renowned New Orleans musicians playing in a much smaller and more intimate space than usual. Currently owned and operated by Kermit Ruffins, one of the founding members of Rebirth Brass Band, it’s an authentic NOLA music experience you won’t want to miss. A local word: Although the lounge is very welcoming and safe, it can be a bit tricky to get there, especially on foot, as it is very much off the beaten path. Take a ride-share or taxi there and back and enjoy a worry-free evening. Check out Melba's Poboys right down the street on Claiborne Ave & Elysian Fields Ave for boiled crawfish when in season at a fraction of the price than you would find in the more well-traveled tourist areas. Even if not in season, Melba's has great very reasonably priced soul food, po’ boys, and frozen drinks.

Altered version of original photo by Louisiana Travel licensed under CC BY 2.0.


501 Napoleon Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115, USA

Rarely is a club dedicated to a single musician. Tipitina's is the exception. It was established in the uptown district of New Orleans in 1977 as a place for New Orleans music giant Professor Longhair to play during his final years and named after one of his most enigmatic recordings Tipitina. It’s known for being the venue to host many historic live recordings by legendary New Orleans musicians including Professor Longhair, Tuts Washington, Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, Anders Osborne, Kermit Ruffins, Galactic, Kim Carson, Wet Willie, and Flow Tribe. Uptown New Orleans is the "other side" of the city from both the French Quarter and the more heavily traveled tourist areas of New Orleans. Things can be spread out in uptown, so we recommend planning a whole day and renting a car so that you can pop around and see the highlights with minimal hassle. Right down the street from Tipitina's is Hansen's Sno-Bliz , home of the original New Orleans snowball. Owned by a 3rd generation of the Hansen family and using original family recipes, it is so much more than just a snowcone. You can then take a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar and view the incredible architecture of the Garden District, home to Anne Rice among many other famous New Orleans residents and one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the USA.

Treme - The New Orleans Listen & Learn Tour

Described as the beating heart of culture in the city and the source of everything you love about New Orleans, Treme is--perhaps arguably--the oldest African American neighborhood in the United States. In fact, the HBO series Treme based on this neighborhood helped make it famous. If you loved our other Treme suggestions above, don’t miss the New Orleans Listen & Learn Tour through Treme (it starts at 3pm Thursday-Sunday). Our guide Luke is so passionate about music he took his degree in music from LSU and created a unique tour around it. Listen to songs of the greatest through the tour guide’s speaker while you stroll and stop at important sites to hear the history and cultural context behind the music and artists you hear. Learn about the origins of Jazz and Rock and Roll and why a certain very famous song by Little Richard may not mean what you think it means! The Treme neighborhood is home to a number of really wonderful and lesser-known museums too, including the Backstreet Cultural Museum , the Treme's Petit Jazz Museum , and the New Orleans African American Museum . Saint Augustine Catholic Church has probably hands down the best Gospel Music in the city and does a half-hour of music before Mass on Sunday morning.