New Orleans is a top destination for many reasons, but our live music is always a front runner. Everywhere you wander around the city, you will stumble across energetic and soulful sounds. Your feet will want to start moving as the beat begins shift. Dance, clap and groove away. We’ve created the ultimate New Orleans Live Music Bucket List to appease your musical heart.
There’s no better way to hype yourself up for a trip to New Orleans than by listing to the funky sounds that fill the New Orleans air. Head to Spotify and hit play on the New Orleans Offline Playlist. The tracks of blues, jazz, hip hop and soul from top local artists like Jon Batiste, Irma Thomas, Curren$y and more will have you dancing in no time.
Since 1961, this famous jazz hall has honored the New Orleans’ founding genre. Open daily for concerts, this is the most authentic place to hear live music in the city. In fact, the artists featured on the New Orleans Offline Playlist got together and recorded their hits at the venue. Play “Side B” to hear.
Throughout the French Quarter, you will hear the sounds of trumpets, saxophones and drums, and will often run into a crowd of people tapping their toes. The street performers have become an iconic part of the New Orleans landscape and add to the magic of the streets.
On the weekend, restaurants across the city host jazz or gospel brunch-- more traditionally on Sunday. Kick off your day with soulful tunes and scrambled eggs-- or whatever you may fancy. The House of Blues is known for their Gospel Brunch, while some favorite jazz brunches include Commander’s Palace, The Court of Two Sisters, Arnaud’s and Palace Cafe.
The queen of bounce often returns to New Orleans and shakes it like no other. Check her schedule and see if you’ll get the chance to see her live. She also performs at Jazz Fest every year. Otherwise, she recommends Lyve Nite Club or occasionally, The Republic, to see real bounce in action.
Head to Oak Street Uptown to this hole-in-the-wall hotspot on Tuesday nights. The bar hosts bands nightly, but Rebirth Brass Band continues to jam every Tuesday night. Known as one of the top shows in the city, the crowd continues to show up each week.
High school and college marching bands are a beloved part of New Orleans culture. A parade is not complete without one. Mardi Gras is the ideal time to hear the best of the band’s sets. Cue the percussion and horns. It will be hard to resist dancing!
Buck-jumping in New Orleans is a part of life. Grab a handkerchief and jump into a passing second line. This historic, local tradition is used to honor or celebrate a person, place or thing. This city stops traffic to dance in the street, and we like it that way.
As the festival capital of the world, New Orleans hosts a number of festivals that are purely dedicated to music. From major fests like Voodoo Music Experience, Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest and Essence to smaller events like Satchmo Summerfest, Crescent City Blues and BBQ and Cajun-Zydeco, the beats are rocking year-round. See a full list of music festivals.
“Tips”--as the locals call it-- has served as a premier concert venue since the late 1970s. Check out their ever-changing, always booming schedule to see who is gracing their stage during your vacation.
This legendary Bourbon Street bar has a room dedicated to songs on the piano, and after a few hurricanes, everyone is singing their hearts out. Bring some dollars to put in your diverse requests, and sing a tune until the wee hours.
Many would argue that New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is the top music festival that takes place in not only New Orleans, but the south. For over fifty years, the festival has highlighted various musical genres on numerous stages, from the beloved gospel tent to the zydeco sounds at Fais do do and the headliners gracing the Acura Stage. Come on down on the last weekend of April or the first weekend of May and spend your days hopping from stage to stage, and your nights at one of the many late night shows that take place after the festival.
The Treme Mother-In-Law Lounge is owned and frequented by Kermit Ruffins himself. Various live music can be found here weekly, but some nights, the local trumpeter can be found preparing barbecue for his patrons.