Whether you’re in the mood to listen to some “rhythm and blues” in the birthplace of ragtime music, or you enjoy pounding your fists to sludge metal, New Orleans is the place to be. You don’t have to stray far from the French Quarter to experience all the “Louisiana Sounds” either. Check out the following venues and bars, most without cover charges.
Preservation Hall – 726 St. Peter Street
Allegedly the best place in the French Quarter to listen to the traditional jazz-style music. Jazz aficionados from around the world frequent this small cabaret hall. No bar, so bring your own refreshments, as you please. Expect to stand in line for standing-room only, or pay $30-40 to sit first to second row in front of the stage. Don’t let the standing, waiting, and small environment deter you though – This is a MUST, as the music, described by viewers is “Unbelievable!”
Pat O’Brien’s Bar – 718 St Peter Street
After you witness the amazing performance at the Preservation Hall, wander next door to Pat O’Brien’s Bar, home to the legendary Hurricane cocktail. The establishment features an array of bars and patios, as well as a large piano bar with twin copper-covered “dueling” pianos, where local entertainers take requests from the audience.
Balcony Music Club – 1331 Decatur Street
Located between the raucous Bourbon and booming Frenchman streets, BCM is a popular music venue, featuring new, local talents of blues, jazz, and funk. No cover charge, and locals strongly advise to check this place out on your trip to New Orleans.
The Funky Pirate – 727 Bourbon Street
Even if you’re planning to avoid the well-known, rowdy Bourbon Street, this is well worth stumbling into, with its amazing jazz and blues sounds, and Big Al performances most nights. There isn’t a cover charge, but it does have a one drink minimum. This should be doable, being the home to the famous Hand Grenade cocktail.
Spotted Cat – 623 Frenchmen Street
A couple blocks east of French Quarter, listen to new jazz artists and dance the night away without paying a cover. Do bring cash, however, since credit is not accepted, and plan on arriving early if you wish to not dance – This place quickly becomes standing room only. Fun Fact: It’s the only bar in town with an upright piano in the ladies’ bathroom.
d.b.a. New Orleans – 618 Frenchmen Street
If you’re lucky, you can catch a Zydeco or Cajun act here. Though another mainstream New Orleans beat, live Zydeco music is rare to come by, but is usually performed once a month here. Cover charge is $5-20 depending on the band. Featuring two bars with a vast selection of craft beers from around the world, don’t expect to be served a Coors Lite here.
Snug Harbor – 626 Frenchmen Street
Located on the iconic Frenchman Street, this is the oldest club on the street, but still a main spot for enjoying the live musical vibes of jazz. Call ahead to order tickets and reserve seats, as this place sells out quickly. Tickets range between $10-30, depending on the act. Visit their website to see who’s playing.
Candlelight Lounge – 925 North Robertson Street
Less than a mile north of the French Quarter in the Tremé neighborhood, this is a Wednesday evening must. Disregard the $10 cover charge, because it gets you a bowl of the customary red beans and rice, as well as the “ticket in” to listen to the funky and traditional jazz sounds of the notorious Tremé Brass Band. Also, if mini liquor bottles are your style, the Candlelight Lounge is one of the last places in New Orleans where you can order a “set up,” which is a half-pint of liquor, a can of soda, a bowl of ice and a few plastic cups.
Siberia – 2227 St Claude Avenue
If rock and heavy metal are more up your alley for musical preferences, check out Siberia, located a little more than a mile away from the French Quarter. Critics refer to this place as “the start of the next big thing,” delivering ear-splitting sounds of sludge metal, rock and rap music.
Kerry Irish Pub – 331 Decatur Street
We told you New Orleans has a little something for everyone, in terms of music. Located slightly “off the beaten path,” hang out with locals and enjoy a delicious Guinness stout while you listen to live beats, ranging from Celtic and bluegrass to alternative country and rock. No cover charge.