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Music

GoNOLA Find: The Best Blues Clubs in New Orleans

See our hand-picked guide from our music expert.

BB King's Blues Club (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

As a native Chicagoan-turned New Orleanian, my connection to and love for blues music has followed me out of the Windy City and into the Crescent City. It’s downright easy to stumble upon jazz or funk in most venues around the city but with a little bit of searching—and knowing where to look—you’ll be enjoying one of the many blues clubs we boast in New Orleans in no time.

The Spotted Cat (Photo: Zack Smith)

We begin our blues club crawl, tour, showcase (it doesn’t matter what you call it!) at The Spotted Cat Music Club on Frenchmen Street. You’ll know it by the mass of musicians and spectators “making the hang” on the curb out front while peering into the windows to catch whoever is on stage at the moment. Home to eclectic blues groups like Sarah McCoy & The Oopsie Daisies and the Washboard Chaz Blues Trio, this is one of a handful of Frenchmen clubs that has retained its New Orleans spirit amidst its vibrant neighborhood.

Be careful not to pass by our next stop as we continue on our journey. Apple Barrel is one of, if not the smallest, clubs on the block – but don’t let that fool you. This tiny dive is home to some of the best blues bands in New Orleans including rising stars like Deltaphonic. Self-described as the result of all the different styles of music that make their way down the Mississippi and come together in New Orleans, the duo blends “finger licking” blues, funk, and rock into a surprisingly big sound. The band itself was born on Frenchmen Street in 2014.

The Funky Pirate (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

The Funky Pirate Blues Club is the place to find blues on Bourbon Street. The club hosts internationally acclaimed “Big Al” Carson & The Blues Masters as well as other great local talent spotlighted for blues and jazz like Marc Stone and Mark Pentone. Grab a cocktail, kick back, and enjoy.

BB King’s Blues Club (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Last but certainly not least is the aptly named BB King’s Blues Club next to The French Market. At this French Quarter club you’ll find the BB King’s Blues Club All-Star Band, the house band complete with a full horns section, and Willie Lockett & The Blues Krewe, both of whom will have you dancing to the music we all grew up on. Not only that, but BB King’s is also serving up some of the best BBQ the city has to offer.

Whether you are a blues connoisseur or a tourist following the party, you will not be disappointed upon stepping foot into any (and hopefully all) of these wonderful clubs and venues. In a city known for its musical history, these hidden gems sparkle even brighter.

Katie Sikora graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Visual Journalism and worked as Photo Editor at The Peninsula Pulse in Door County, Wis., Media Strategist for Levy Restaurants in Chicago, Ill., and an Archivist at The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, La. before pursuing her namesake photography business shooting everything from shark tagging research to vodou ceremonies and—you guessed it—weddings! Her photographs have been published by The Chicago Sun-Times, Gambit, The Times-Picayune, RedEye Chicago, The New Orleans Advocate, Houseshow Magazine, Antigravity Magazine, In The Bite Magazine, Thrillist, CBS Chicago, NBC Chicago, and the World Wildlife Fund amongst others. She is the creator and director of The Sexism Project, an ongoing portrait and interview series featuring the stories of real women in real industries experiencing real sexism.

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