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Touring Bands Coming to New Orleans

Given New Orleans’ obsessive focus on music, the scene here can be FOMO-inducing at any time of year, even after Jazz Fest’s onslaught of visitors has thinned.

Across town, day and night, options range from game-changing brass band shows like the Rebirth’s regular Tuesday night slot at the Maple Leaf to modern jazz combos at the Mint and Snug Harbor to songwriting-focused rock projects from the likes of Alex McMurray, Luke Allen, and Ryan Scully at venues on St. Claude Avenue.

But touring acts are a big part of the club scene, too, particularly in the spring and summer when the festival circuit lures many of our local favorites out on the road. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of some of the noteworthy out-of-towner artists headed to New Orleans’ clubs in the coming months, organized by venue.


501 Napolean Ave., New Orleans

This Uptown mecca for New Orleans R&B, brass and beyond also maintains a strong schedule of touring artists.

  • On May 21, Tip’s presents An Evening with Keb Mo Band. A soulful singer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist with roots in Delta blues and gospel, the Grammy Award winning Keb Mo’s music exudes warmth and emotion even at its most rocking. That might explain why he was tapped in 2014 for a memorable surprise appearance with the Preservation Hall Band at the hall’s Midnight Preserves series during Jazz Fest last year.

Blue Nile Balcony Room

532 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116

Trombonist Jeff Albert’s Open Ears creative music series upstairs at the Blue Nile Balcony Room on Tuesdays provides a weekly mix of the city’s most talented improvisers, often paired with visiting jazz artists from other parts of the country or the world.

  • On May 26 at 10:30 p.m., Open Ears features award-winning flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell. Combining elements of jazz, gospel, pop and African percussion with a focus on experimentalism, Mitchell has regularly been named the Top Flutist of the Year in DownBeat magazine’s annual critics’ poll. She was also the first woman to lead the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, an organization in Chicago that’s played a large part in the careers of local artists such as Kidd Jordan.

Civic Theater

510 O Keefe Ave, New Orleans

Complete with balconies and soaring ceilings, the recently restored Civic Theater is the city’s oldest, having been built in 1906. It’s currently booked by The Bowery Presents – the folks behind New York’s Bowery Ballroom, The Music Hall of Williamsburg, Terminal 5 and the Mercury Lounge.

  • On May 10 at 9 p.m., the Civic welcomes Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. In 2009, former Oasis guitarist and songwriter Gallagher split from the band he and his brother Liam fronted. Since then, he’s been slowly working his way up to this project, which tunes into much of the same psych rock and glam that influenced Oasis. Their latest album, 2015’s “Chasing Yesterday,” features Johnny Marr of the Smiths and has earned favorable national reviews. A number of the shows scheduled for their summer tour have sold out months in advance.
  • Shock rocker and horror film director Rob Zombie hits the Civic on June 2 in support of his first live album since 2007, “Spookshow International Live.” Think grinding guitars, industrial metal grooves, and costumes and makeup that would make Alice Cooper proud.
  • Today’s thriving jam band festival circuit owes much of its success to Blues Traveler, slated to headline the Civic on Sept. 22. The long-running quintet’s improv-centric blues-rock set the tone for the H.O.R.D.E. festival they founded in 1992. Blues Traveler also has a special connection to New Orleans, courtesy of their late original bassist, the talented Bobby Sheehan, a prominent figure and friend in the local music community when he lived in New Orleans prior to his death in 1999. Blues Traveler’s new album, “Blow Up the Moon,” spans genres and guest artists from the pop, reggae and hip-hop worlds.


618 Frenchmen St., New Orleans

Cozier and more appealing to local crowds than many of Frenchmen Street’s newer clubs, dba boasts an impressive lineup of whiskeys and beers from around the world. Though the club focuses on presenting New Orleans acts, top Acadian artists appear there regularly as well.

  • Texas-born, Lafayette-based accordionist, singer, banjoist, and guitar player Cedric Watson brings his blues-laced Creole dance outfit Bijou Creole to d.b.a. May 29 at 10 p.m.
  • On June 12, Soul Creole – an Acadian supergroup led by Grammy-nominated fiddler Louis Michot of the Lost Bayou Ramblers and zydeco accordionist Corey Ledet – play their unusual combo of Creole/Cajun/zydeco dance-pop.
  • Pennsylvania garage rockers The Cynics mix things up with local swamp pop group the Lonely Lonely Knights on July 3.

Howlin’ Wolf

907 S. Peters St., New Orleans

Your best bet for music in the Central Business District is the Howlin’ Wolf, which features both a mainstage and a smaller side venue called the Den.

  • On May 17, both sides of the club are likely to pack ‘em in thanks to ‘90s indie rock innovators and influencers Built to Spill, whose new album, “Untethered Moon” features an updated rhythm section and plenty of dark and dreamy guitar work.
  • Also on May 17, the Grammy-nominated Hot 8 Brass Band, one of the city’s best, holds it down in the Den. Built To Spill hits at 9 p.m., while the Hot 8 take the stage next door at 10 p.m.

Saenger Theater

1111 Canal St., New Orleans

The historic Saenger Theater is the city’s crown jewel venue, which re-opened in 2013 following substantial Katrina-related water damage. National and international acts often stop at this beautiful theater– some even make it their first stop (see below).

  • Former Smiths frontman Morrissey kicks off his six-week U.S. tour in New Orleans on June 11. The politically minded Brit-pop forefather ain’t exactly known for the kind of party-starting sounds that define the New Orleans music landscape. But a well-crafted dose of darkness like “Late Night, Maudlin Street” could provide a nice – if melancholic – change of pace.

House of Blues

225 Decatur St, New Orleans

New Orleans’ version of the House of Blues chain is relatively intimate, with local folk art decorating its walls and a cozy Foundation Room annex for special and private events.

  • Touring in support of his new album, “Global,” influential rock songwriter and producer Todd Rundgren hits HOB May 26 at 8 p.m. Warning: Don’t cross your fingers for 2015 renditions of his ‘70s hits; recent reviews suggest he’s leaning more toward material from his last three releases on the road this spring.

Essence Festival, New Orleans Superdome

1500 Sugar Bowl Dr., New Orleans

Essence Magazine’s sprawling July 2-5 celebration Essence Festival is like an R&B, soul, and hip-hop Jazz Fest of sorts. Single-night tickets for the headliners also offers access to the Superlounges, smaller stages off to the sides of the venue’s mainstage.

  • This year’s lineup features Charlie Wilson, Common, Erykah Badu, India.Arie, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Maze feat. Frankie Beverly, Missy Elliott, Trey Songz and Usher on the mainstage. Self-professed local “supafunkrock”-er Trombone Shorty and his band, Orleans Avenue perform as well.
  • Superlounge highlights include local rapper Dee 1, Kool Moe Dee, Doug E. Fresh, Mystikal, Slick Rick, Esperanza Spalding, Bilal and Robert Glasper, plus local acts like Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk and the eccentric and theatrical Tank and the Bangas.

Jennifer Odell is a freelance music writer. Her work appears regularly in DownBeat, Jazz Times, Offbeat and the Gambit, among other publications, and she leads the New Orleans chapter of the Jazz Journalists Association. In her spare time, she enjoys second lining to the Hot 8 or TBC, costuming, and eating all of the crawfish.

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