New Orleans is the place to be for those looking to feel the vibration of music billowing up from the streets—a true mine of talent and a place where music has paved the way for all those amazing stories you hear about our great musical city. You name a genre, and we guarantee you New Orleans has touched it with the talent she homes and produces regularly.
Known for our jazz, bounce, rap, blues, and much more, there is something for everyone at every street corner. However, it should be noted that behind every performer's great sound is a venue that has played heavily in history's past, and history currently being written.
So, take a moment to check out these iconic New Orleans music venues, where shrouded inside some beautiful architecture forms a world where the celebration of our people echoes through the course of time.
With roots as an art gallery dating back to the 1950s, this iconic French Quarter venue used to lure in art buyers when the then-management would book local jazz musicians to enchant passing crowds and entice them to come in and check out what was going on. It was in the 1960s that the sound of New Orleans jazz began luring bigger crowds than the art, eventually becoming Preservation Hall as we know it today. This well-cherished space became one of the most important venues in the evolution of jazz sound worldwide, and to this day, it is where you can find the internationally known Preservation Hall Jazz Band!
In the 1970s, local music enthusiasts opened the doors in the Touro section of Uptown to our beloved Tipitina's, named after the song "Tipitina" by Professor Longhair, who performed there until his passing in 1980. In its early years, this space housed a juice bar, restaurant, and bar. However, the only reference to that now is the banana in the well-known logo. Sold in 2018 to New Orleans jam band Galactic, Tipitina's is still very much in the heart of the Crescent City's sound. It has seen performances by stage legends like Dr. John, The Neville Brothers, Tim McGraw, Lenny Kravitz, and countless other national names, local favorites, and up-and-coming artists.
Originally opened by Ernie K-Doe in 1994, the Mother-in-Law Lounge is a cherished live music venue, pub, and living monument to New Orleans' musicality. After closing for some time, Kermit Ruffins reopened this venue in 2014, nestled in the heart of the Tremé. Inside Scoop: The Mother-in-Law Lounge is a perfect spot after any downtown second line or major Saints victory!
As one of the longest continuing operations in music, the Maple Leaf Bar opened its doors in 1974. Hosting live music seven nights a week for most of its run, this Uptown hot spot is nestled in the Oak Street corridor. It has frequently seen performances by James Booker, Rebirth Brass Band, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and in recent history, Tank and the Bangas. Celebrating musical styles such as blues, funk, R&B, rock, zydeco, jazz, jam bands, and more!
As one of the hot spots for Street melodies, this jazz bistro celebrates the music of our great city in the Marigny neighborhood. Located in three rooms of a renovated 1800s storefront, there is an abundance of great food to go with great tunes! Pro tip: as you prepare for Frenchmen Street explorations, depending on timing, this street can be quite busy, and seating can be limited at the many music clubs that line the street. Plan on wearing comfortable shoes!
Located in the oldest Black neighborhood in the United States, the Tremé, Candlelight Lounge is a beloved neighborhood dive that features great live music, brass bands, good drinks, and a great time. Another local favorite post-second line parades, don't miss out on their New Orleans charm and free red beans and rice on Mondays!
Who doesn’t love an "If you know, you know" kind of place? Vaughan's is just that kind of place. To get inside this Bywater jazz and blues splendor, find the side door and ring the buzzer. Inside, you will find live music, cheap drinks, and plenty of the character that gives New Orleans its charm!
Back in the music district of NOLA, Frenchmen Street, you’ll find D.B.A, a hip-but not trendy-bar that offers off-the-cuff music geared towards local music lovers. Paired with their hundreds of craft beer options, this space is a great music venue for those who love to raise a beer glass to the band.
Hop onto the Canal Street streetcar from the French Quarter and head on over to this intimate music bar located in Mid-City. They proudly present local music of all sounds and special curated performances by touring artists. As its name suggests, this space is one of our city's well-known dance and groove spots. With daily drink specials and extensive BBQ dishes, be sure to stop by any night for live music, a good drink, and a BBQ plate, but don't forget those dancing shoes, y'all!
Since 1970, this French Quarter space has been celebrating the performing arts of all kinds for generations. It started as a single-screen Walter Reade cinema featuring first-run films and evolved in the late '70s to host live performances. It eventually became known as the Shim Sham Club, which closed in 2003. It later reopened as Rio Hackford and Ryan Hesseling's One Eyed Jacks. However, in 2021, this beloved venue returned once again to its namesake, Toulouse Theater, where you can catch a variety of talents on its stage, ranging from live music–both local and national touring–comedy, drag, and burlesque!
Gasa Gasa is on the newer side of music and arts venues in the Uptown neighborhood. Located on Freret Street, this venue supports local talent through their weekly events, which include art exhibitions, live music, and film screenings. This funky arts house, which locals rave is cool and has great sound, is the perfect place to visit to explore the music and art scene that thrives in our city!
By now, you are very aware that Frenchmen Street is a common theme among music venues to check out while you are in town. The Maison joins that list as one of the larger venues to catch a show at. Serving food until 10 p.m. each night as an added bonus to your entertainment, this three-level restaurant, bar, and music venue provides some of the best live music on the block.
"The Cat," as it is known by the locals, is recognized as an international destination for jazz music, where plenty of movies, commercials, and print media have been filmed and inspired by the unique space and musical ambiance. You can't miss this venue once on Frenchmen Street, as the spotted cat mural radiates on the side of its building! Pro tip: Visit the Frenchmen Art Bazaar where you can browse artwork, jewelry, and gifts from local and regional artists in this outdoor marketplace just steps away from this famous music club, which remains open late into the night!
The House of Blues is an American chain of live music and concert hall restaurants. Notably, it has 11 national locations, including one nestled in the French Quarter. Since opening its doors in 1994, this premier special events and live music venue has welcomed everyone from major national touring acts to local performers, gospel brunches, drag shows, and more. In addition to their main concert hall, you can find smaller, more intimate shows in their Foundation Room, including VIP experiences and a more upscale food menu.
Home to metal, punk, indie, and underground music, this Bywater neighborhood dive bar boasts not only live music but also nightly activities and shows such as trivia, comedy, burlesque, drag, and more! Serving up entertainment with a mixture of bar-fare food, don't miss this venue as a chance to get off the traditional sound path of the city.
Now that we have captured your heart's desire for grand musical adventures in our city, ensure that you also consider exploring other options. This list showcases numerous showstoppers, but it would be a crime not to seek out more, because, let's be honest, each of them possesses its own iconic charm. Feel free to explore them here!