The Best Places To Hear Live Music In New Orleans

Jazz singer John Boutte performs at d.b.a. New Orleans
Jazz singer John Boutte performs at d.b.a. New Orleans | © Jim West / Alamy
Photo of Lauren Gruber
2 September 2021

New Orleans is known for its rich cultural and musical heritages. Frenchmen Street is filled with live music clubs and bars known for their swinging jazz and folk blues, but there are other hotspots in town that book the best local acts around. Read on for our guide to the best bars and restaurants for live music in the cultural highlight of Louisiana.

The Spotted Cat Music Club

Bar, Cocktails
At The Spotted Cat, a jazz club on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans, musicians play for an audience. Note tip jar by stage.. Image shot 2015. Exact date unknown.
© Spencer Grant / Alamy
The Spotted Cat Music Club is one of the quintessential music spots in New Orleans. Located in the Faubourg Marigny, the local favorite offers all ranges of jazz, blues, funk klezmer and more. Local musicians play their hearts out, but international bands abound as well. Often rated #1 on most sites, tourists, celebrities and locals flock to enjoy the music and local brews offered at this music club.

Preservation Hall

Music Venue
Historic Jazz locations in New Orleans Louisiana USA
© Goddard on the Go / Alamy
Preservation Hall is heaven for jazz aficionados. Located in New Orleans’ French Quarter, the tiny 18th-century building with only a few benches for seating awes the crowds. The bar was opened in 1961 to protect New Orleans’ jazz tradition. Three live shows are played each night, at 8.15, 9.15 and 10.15pm respectively. They do not serve food or beverages, but patrons can bring their own in plastic containers – which actually ends up keeping the night budget-friendly.

A live jazz performance at Preservation Hall is included in Culture Trip’s four-day tour of New Orleans, in which a Local Insider will reveal all there is to know about this unique city.

Three Muses

Bar, Gastropub, Restaurant, American, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, $$$
The charming Three Muses celebrates blues, jazz, New Orleans-style bands and a mix of many other musical traditions. Three Muses is a calmer spot where patrons can enjoy new wave southern and New Orleans style plates while listening to the bands throughout the night. The gastropub offers some of the best local folk musicians in the city – about two to three acts play per evening, and reservations should be made if you have a group. This spot caters to the late night crowds.

Rock 'n' Bowl

Bowling Alley, Music Venue
AL "Carnival Time" Johnson Sr. sings for the Krewe of Tucks Queen, Susan Clinton, at the Krewe of Tucks Queen's Party at Mid-City Lanes Rock 'N' Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana, Sunday, January 15, 2006. (Photo by Vernon Bryant/Dallas Morning News/KRT)
© Sipa US / Alamy
Rock ‘n’ Bowl offers all types of fun, from delicious eats to bowling to live music. Patrons can listen to zydeco, swing, brass bands and other diverse genres on select evenings while they bowl or dance on the floor in front of the stage. Patrons can also find smaller acts and more well-known lineups. Offering a full bar with local drafts, the night becomes lively. There is a cover charge at the door and if you want to bowl, you’ll pay in the ballpark of $25.

Chickie Wah Wah

Bar, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Pub Grub, American
Chickie Wah Wah acts more as a gastropub music venue where you can easily catch a show. What makes it stand out from standard music venues is the food – chow down on their BBQ from Blue Oak. If you’re not into BBQ, then pick from their appetizers like nachos and gulf shrimp tacos all under $10. Monday through Friday you can catch happy hour from 5.30pm to 7.30pm with free live music. The bands playing here consists of local folk musicians to national jazz bands.

d.b.a. New Orleans

Bar, Beer, $$$
Palmetto Bug Stompers, d.b.a. Jazz Club, 618 Frenchman Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
BHCJBP Palmetto Bug Stompers, d.b.a. Jazz Club, 618 Frenchman Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA | © Martin Thomas Photography / Alamy

d.b.a embraces great jazz performances and a fun atmosphere. The live music club showcases local and regional bands nightly. They also have a plentiful beer selection with over 20 tap selections and over 80 bottles. Patrons may even catch a free swing dance on the floor in the evenings, and the space is large with modern fixtures. They bring in some of the best bands and solo performers.

These recommendations were updated on September 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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