The Best Live Music Venues in New Orleans

Jazz clubs like Preservation Hall are the beating heart of the New Orleans music scene
Jazz clubs like Preservation Hall are the beating heart of the New Orleans music scene | © Image Professionals GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Shay Lee
1 September 2021

Whether it’s with large clubs or small parades, the New Orleans music scene never disappoints the eight million visitors it gets each year. We have compiled a list of the best places to enjoy live music in the music city par excellence.

If you’d like to catch an exclusive live jazz performance at the storied Preservation Hall, consider booking Culture Trip’s four-day New Orleans tour, which includes this must-do activity – and several more – to give you an all-round excellent experience of the Big Easy.

Chickie Wah Wah

Bar, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Pub Grub, American
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Located in Mid-City, this music bar is a great place for visitors to relax and hang out with their friends. Chickie Wah Wah is a smoke-free club due to the artists’ strict no-smoking policy. The room adapts to bands of different sizes and welcomes different styles. Each artist or band that plays at the club is in charge of setting the entrance fee for their visitors. Here, music lovers can dress in any attire; the bar is laidback and allows casual outfits.

d.b.a.

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

Established in 2000 and located in the historic Fauburg Mariginy, d.b.a. was among the first music venues in New Orleans to become smoke-free. The goal of this venue is to create a healthy environment for you, as well as the staff and musicians. This allows patrons and artists alike to rejoice and connect through a cultural and entertaining space. d.b.a. features local and regional acts nightly, which means everyone is welcome to join the festivities every day.

House of Blues

Music Venue
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House of Blues, New Orleans, Louisiana
© Irene Abdou / Alamy Stock Photo
This music venue grew out of founder Isaac Tigrett’s love for blues. The goal was to introduce people to the music of the rural south, including genres such as blues, gospel, rhythm and blues, and jazz. Offering a mix of Louisiana favorites and mid-sized touring acts, House of Blues (HOB) embodies the Crescent City nightlife. The club offers three performance spaces: the main hall, the Parish and the Voodoo Garden. As well as featuring stellar shows, HOB serves Southern-style entrees: burgers, pork sliders, ribeye steak, and shrimp with grits.

Preservation Hall

Music Venue
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New Orleans, Louisiana, USA - 2020: People wait in line before a live performance by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the famous Preservation Hall.
© Roberto Michel / Alamy Stock Photo
Preservation Hall is a cornerstone of music and culture. It was established in 1961 to honor traditional New Orleans jazz. Every night, you can witness the wonderful musical evolution of jazz culture. The popular bar hosts a variety of musical performances, including gospel, hip-hop, bluegrass and rock. The best aspect , though, is the non-profit affiliation. This is more than a music hall; it is a place for the community, helping with education and social programs.

Maple Leaf Bar

Bar, Cocktails
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27 Sept 2005 - New Orleans, LA - Hurricane Katrina aftermath, New Orleans, Louisiana. Music returns to the city at the infamous Maple Leaf bar in Uptown New Orleans. Legendary local jazz man Walter 'The Wolfman' Washington (far left) and Tom McDonald (at
© Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo
Maple Leaf Bar is home to two types of artistic events: musical performances and poetry readings. Sometimes called the Leaf, this bar hasn’t stopped being a place for up-and-coming bands and for local music students from Tulane University, Loyola University and University of New Orleans. Other than being a popular music bar, the Leaf hosts fashion shows which showcase the latest New Orleans fashion.

Rock 'n' Bowl

Bowling Alley, Music Venue
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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 Stock Photo
Located in the heart of New Orleans, Rock ‘n’ Bowl is a unique venue that promotes both live music and bowling. Due to the rustic Southern roots, this famous bar and bowling alley tends to have a full house every night. To make sure you receive a bowling lane and place to dine, you must reserve long in advance.

Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro

Bar, Bistro, American, $$$
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Musician having a nap outside a jazz club in Frenchmen Street, New Orleans
© Laura Prieto / Alamy Stock Photo
Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro has been hosting live jazz performances for more than 30 years. Located in the Faubourg Mariginy, the place has been home to most major modern New Orleans jazz musicians. In this space young musicians gain real-world music experience from veteran bandleaders. The Bistro is only able to host 80 people; their stage is small, but it can hold a grand piano and large bands have played on it. Every night, patrons can witness two shows, at 8pm or 10pm.

Tipitina's

Bar, Cocktails
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New Orleans, Louisiana/USA - 8/8/2020: Tipitina's music club in Uptown New Orleans - side entrance with logo
© William Morgan / Alamy Stock Photo
Established in 1977, Tipitina’s has encouraged the development of the best New Orleans artists for almost four decades. Located near the Mississippi River, the bar is dedicated to piano wizard Professor Longhair, one of the most renowned rhythm and blues musicians in New Orleans music history. His visage overlooks the stage and greets guests at the door. Tulane University and Loyola University music students frequent the music club. Tipitina’s also support a variety of community-based projects.

Blue Nile

Music Venue
Map View
Large crowds turn out at the Blue Nile on Fridays. It's one of the top clubs for live music on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Granger/Charlotte Observer/MCT/Sipa USA)
© Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo
Blue Nile is a long-standing music club in the heart of the historic Frenchmen street. It was originally called Dream Palace, and has been home to funk, blues, soul and brass music concerts. It offers a full bar and features live local, national and international performances; they have music acts on most nights of the week. Renowned artists like Kermit Ruffins, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and Soul Rebels Brass Band have played here. Blue Nile also offers special party rooms for private occasions.
These recommendations were updated on September 1, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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