The 10 Best Music Venues in New Orleans
Nashville might be The Music City, but no place is known more for their live music scene than New Orleans. From small jazz clubs to historic theaters, local hot spots to tourist destinations, there’s something for everyone on our list of the city’s best venues.
Blue Nile (532 Frenchmen Street)
Located on Frenchmen Street, the Blue Nile is known as the club that started it all. It’s one of the longest-standing establishments on the famed musical strip, and has had the likes of Trombone Shorty, Soul Rebels and Kermit Ruffins grace its stage.
d.b.a. (618 Frenchmen Street)
Established in spring 2000, d.b.a. is another Frenchmen Street club only with a twist. It’s one of the first music venues in New Orleans to opt for a smoke-free environment (if you’re into that sort of thing), and stands strong in its mission to be conscientious members of the New Orleans community.
Tipitina’s (501 Napoleon Avenue)
Since its inception in 1977–known then as The 501 Club–Tipitina’s has seen a lot. Besides its name change, an homage to a well-known Professor Longhair song, the club used to also house a juice bar (which explains the banana in their logo), and before it was a music venue it served as a gambling house and brothel. Now it’s one of NoLa’s most beloved venues, especially during Jazz Fest.
Gasa Gasa (4920 Freret Street)
This small club located on Freret Street prides itself on upholding the musical roots an eclectic nature of NoLa, with a diverse lineup of artists on any given week. They also host live art exhibitions, film screenings and recording sessions. Gasa Gasa also host a happy hour from Tuesday to Sunday, 12pm to close.
Preservation Hall (726 St. Peter Street)
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, this 57-year-old jazz venue is a New Orleans institution made famous by its touring troupe, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. In addition to hosting over 350 concerts a year filled with local legends and jazz greats, the venue is also tightly connect to the city through its music outreach program and hurricane relief fund.
Republic NOLA (828 S. Peters Street)
One of the largest venues on this list, Republic NOLA is a versatile event space in the warehouse district that houses three separate performance areas. The main room is equipped with high-end lighting and a projector, while the mezzanine has more of an artsy historic vibe. For an even more intimate experience, the 500-square-foot Artist’s Room is perfect for small functions. Music at Republic ranges from indie to rap, jam bands to local musicians.
BMC (1331 Decatur Street)
If you’re in the mood for a down-home vibe, bar and pub grub, with music ranging from jazz to blues to pop, then you might want to check out the Balcony Music Club (BMC). Standing proudly at the corner of Decatur and Esplanade, this laid-back atmosphere promises fun and live local music seven days a week.
House of Blues New Orleans (225 Decatur Street)
Although you can find several House of Blues scattered across the country, don’t let this chain of venues fool you. It’s New Orleans location– at 225 Decatur Street–boasts not only the main ballroom, but also the VooDoo Garden outside, the Foundation Room, Mama’s Lounge and the Parish Room. On Sunday’s head to the main stage where they do a killer gospel brunch.
Joy Theater (1200 Canal Street)
Had your fill of intimate local clubs? Check out the Joy Theater. Another hot spot during jazz fest, this 10,000-square-foot venue holds up to 1,200 guests with performers ranging from Papa Roach to Karl Denson, St. Paul and the Broken Bones to Beats Antique. The venue is also quite historic, as it was one of the original movie theaters to grace downtown NoLa in 1947.
The Howlin’ Wolf (907 S. Peters Street)
Named after legendary bluesman Chester “Howlin’ Wolf” Burnett, this large performance space plays host to concerts, comedy and even private parties. Painted on the building’s facade is a large mural depicting old New Orleans neighborhood scenes, and inside is space for up to 120 patrons. The venue, located at 907 South Peters Street in the warehouse district, is also a popular spot for artists to record live albums in.
(Cropped image courtesy Infrogmation of New Orleans via Flickr.)