Quick GoNOLA PSA: Frenchmen Street is just one of New Orleans’ many hubs for some of the best live music in America. Whether you’re new to the city or just passing through, don’t forget to expand your music search beyond the offerings at venues like Snug Harbor, dba, the Spotted Cat, or Three Muses.
Below, we’ve compiled a very basic primer on some of the highlights, music venue-wise, off the now-well-beaten path of Frenchmen. Check ‘em out, then expand your personal search to the dozens of other great bars, clubs, concert halls and music-soaked hideaways that make this city the live music capital that it is.
Le Bon Temps Roule
4801 Magazine St.
The back room of Le Bon Temps hosts live music on weekends, while the front room gives its regular pool shooters (and shot shooters) a quieter place to kick back and enjoy a drink or three in a chill, old-school Uptown environment. The Soul Rebels usually hold down Thursdays. On Fridays, Joe Krown plays an after-work live piano set accompanied by free oysters. On the Sunday before Mardi Gras Day, Indians in full costume get a morning practice in before the Wild Magnolias play their Mardi Gras Kickoff party as the Krewe of Thoth rolls by.
4920 Freret St.
Indie rock, DJs, movie screenings, and singer/songwriters abound at this comfy, new-school Freret Street club. Grab a cocktail between sets, and relax on the patio or stop to check out some of the quirky art and books that line the walls.
8316 Oak St.
One of Uptown’s most revered local venues, the Leaf specializes in funk, groove, and jazz, although all kinds of music turns up from week to week. The Rebirth Brass Band on a Tuesday, Joe Krown Trio with Walter Wolfman Washington, Russell Batiste, and a Seither’s crawfish boil on a Sunday, or Johnny Vidacovich’s reliably amazing trio on a Thursday all make for some of the best music nights you can find in the neighborhood.
501 Napoleon Ave.
Created in 1977 by a krewe of Professor Longhair fans who wanted to ensure he had a venue to perform in during his sunset years, Tip’s has become a cornerstone of the New Orleans music scene. The spacious-yet-intimate club hosts a mix of local and touring artists who range from New Orleans icons like the Neville Brothers and Dr. John to rising star indie pop acts like Royal Teeth, plus a wide spectrum of visiting artists from genres spanning funk, rock, hip-hop, reggae and beyond. The Tipitina’s Foundation, the club’s non-profit arm, supports music education for young players across the state; it also sponsors free shows by local musicians on Friday nights in the summer and a Sunday afternoon music workshop for students. Tip’s also boasts some of the best acoustics of any room in town.
CBD & Warehouse District
1032 St. Charles Ave.
Rock usually governs this cozy bar on St. Charles Avenue, although jazz, Tex-Mex, and country make plenty of appearances, too. The cover is usually cheap, the guests are usually local, and the bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly. The Circle Bar also hosts a super fun Mod Dance Party featuring British invasion, garage, and soul. Check out the old K&B clock on the ceiling and the shout-out to New Orleans’ Cajun Country pals in Eunice, La., behind the bar.
907 S. Peters St.
Previously housed in the building that’s now Republic, the Wolf and its next-door-neighbor sibling bar, The Den, host a wide variety of rock, funk, brass bands and hip-hop in a spacious, music-focused setting.
Music at the Mint
400 Esplanade Ave.
The Performing Arts Center on the third floor of the Old U.S. Mint is an acoustically pristine, relatively new auditorium where predominantly local jazz artists ranging from Debbie Davis and Josh Paxton to Aurora Nealand and perform afternoon and evening shows. The Mint’s state-of-the-art recording setup also gives performers the opportunity to capture a live show for future release, which means when you attend a show at the Mint, you’re supporting an artist’s recording career as well as their touring.
One Eyed Jack’s
615 Toulouse St.
The red and black, velvet-heavy interior of this former burlesque theater and speakeasy exudes an old-world French Quarter vibe, but the rock-heavy music calendar at Jack’s is the opposite of nostalgic or stodgy. Think rock, punk, metal, and ‘80s nights complete with go-go dancers and rap, all hosted by some of the city’s most talented bartenders.
726 St. Peter St.
The home of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and generations of great traditional New Orleans jazz musicians, Pres Hall was established in the early ‘60s to incubate a style of music that seemed to be fading. Today, the Hall continues to showcase and help preserve that music, but it goes beyond its initial goals as well, opening its doors to music educational programs and more. Pro tip: Though PHJB has become a staple on international festival circuits, the Hall books incredible jazz and brass band music every night.
Marigny and Bywater
2240 St. Claude
Theater, often featuring plenty of skin, is central to the slate of performances at the Allways, which also hosts a great selection of local contemporary jazz and comedy.
Music Box Village
4557 N. Rampart St.
This outdoor, levee-side enclave of shanty-esque structures was made with music in mind. Each of the pieces in the Music Box Village features architectural elements that double as instruments of one kind or another. Percussionists, Cajun artists, bounce performers, avant-garde jazz musicians, and rockers on their way through New Orleans have all performed live here during the Music Box Village’s season, which runs most weekends, fall(ish) through Jazz Fest(ish) and includes plenty of educational opportunities for kids and adults.
2227 St. Claude Ave.
Between the taxidermy on the walls, the excellent Slavic soul food coming out of the kitchen in the back til the wee hours and the open-minded rock/blues/folk/funk/punk/bounce music programming, Siberia is as unique as it is essential to St. Claude’s ever-growing music corridor.
Bullet’s Sports Bar
2441 A. P. Tureaud Ave.
The Original Pinettes Brass Band and Kermit Ruffins are the go-to acts for this cozy, neighborhood joint, although R&B, comedy, and other kinds of programming find their way into the lineup here.
925 N Robertson St.
The long-running Treme music mecca the Candlelight, located next to Tuba Fats Square, remains most famous for its Wednesday nights with the Treme Brass Band, which has been packing in locals and, increasingly, tourists, for years. When it comes to live music info for other nights of the week, call ahead or check their Facebook page.
Julius Kimbrough’s Prime Example
1909 N. Broad
Located in a modest, purple-walled space on the downtown edge of Gentilly, the Prime Example serves up consistently great live, local modern jazz courtesy of regulars like Jesse McBride and Nicholas Payton. Upstairs in Germain’s Kitchen, Germaine Gains keeps jazz fans satiated with top-notch soul food.
Chickie Wah Wah
2828 Canal St.
Chickie Wah Wah’s mix of cocktail tables and a long bar area add to the low-key vibe at this roots and rock-focused Canal Street club.