Great Venues for Live Music in New Orleans

New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, offers music-lovers a variety of live-music venues to suit all musical tastes.

I love live music—nearly any type. I’m constantly awestruck by those who can get up on stage, totally put themselves out there and sing their hearts out. I envy them, but mostly, I enjoy their art and sense of self-expression.

So, when I had the chance to go to New Orleans a few months ago, the first thing I did was surf the web for any shows I could catch.

Here are five venues I came across while exploring New Orleans that are some of the best places to see a live show in all of the Crescent City.

Frenchmen Street

Located in the Marigny, just two blocks from the French Quarter, Frenchman Street is home to numerous live-music clubs. These busy bars fill up quickly so you’ll definitely want to make reservations.

  • Blue Nile: Local and international acts perform at the “Nile”. Grab a cocktail, find a seat and enjoy a night of great music in this colourful bar.

  • DBA: Catering to local-music lovers, DBA also offers an extensive beer list. Head down between 6pm to 9pm on Sundays and enjoy the musical renditions of the Palmetto Bug Stompers.

  • Apple Barrel: With nightly performances, the Apple Barrel is where you’ll get your blues and R&B fix.

  • Spotted Cat: A small space with great acoustics the Spotted Cat is where ‘real’ New Orleans jazz can be found.

  • Snug Harbor: This restaurant has a solid selection of burgers and steaks as well as nightly shows at 9pm and 11pm.

Maple Leaf Bar

The Maple Leaf Bar is one of the longest standing clubs in New Orleans offering music seven nights a week. Head here on Tuesday nights to catch the Rebirth Brass Band.

Preservation Hall

For nearly 50 years, this historic venue has dedicated itself to preserving music in the city—catching a jazz set here is a real treat!


Lace up your shoes and bowl a set while enjoying great live music at this bowling alley / live music hybrid. Expect pins falling, spontaneous dancing and lots of music—all the makings of a great night!


Mainstream musicians (think Wilco, Pearl Jam, Goo Goo Dolls and Lenny Kravitz) as well as not-as-well-known bands make it a point to stop at Tipitina’s when making their way through the south. This 1000 person capacity club also has it’s own recording studio and record label.

Don’t Miss Harvest the Music

For a night out under the stars, catch Harvest the Music which presents free, live concerts in the Square during the spring and fall when the weather’s perfect. All proceeds from this festival go towards the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana.

Even with all these great venues, some of the best music in New Orleans is found right on the streets!  Horns start to trumpet, crowds gather and the dancing begins—this is what New Orleans is all about. 

Photos by Shanna Riley, fw_gadget, Infrogmation, Jeff Turner, Louisiana Travel

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Susan B. Barnes

Susan B. Barnes is a travel writer and photographer. A proud Army brat, she was born on a military base in Belgium and has been on the go ever since. While Susan has traveled across the United States and into Canada, she has also managed to visit such European cultural hot spots as Paris, London, Ireland, Athens and Rome, and has even explored the second largest reef in the world off the coast of Belize and the cloud forest of Venezuela, among many other exotic locales.

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