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Line brass band performing in the French Quarter

Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana: Get to Know These 4 Music Hot Spots

By: Zaida Rios

Todd Coleman
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  • States:
    Louisiana

New Orleans is an easy place to love. Its larger-than-life personality all but ensures a good time.

Whether you’re taking the St. Charles streetcar up to the Garden District, touring the French Quarter or sitting down for just-shucked oysters at a local hangout, you’ll feel the excitement generated from one particular secret ingredient. Yes, in New Orleans, food may be the way to your heart, but music is the pathway to your soul.

Royal Street: The Spirit of Street Music

Don’t just stick to Bourbon Street. Get inspired and venture to Royal Street for authentic local flavor. Here you’ll stumble upon buskers, some of the best musicians in the city ready to share their talents with impromptu street performances. You’ll hear everything from stripped-down, acoustic guitar to avant-garde bands with instruments ranging from the bass and brass instruments to washboards and plastic buckets. They even haul keyboards onto street corners. The largest concentration of performances occurs daily between the 200 and 800 blocks. New emerging musicians intermingle with veteran street performers to create a free-spirited spontaneity that’s contagious. A large influx of musicians tends to crowd around the intersection of Royal and Conti streets, just outside the police station. Eccentric maybe, but this is New Orleans; everyone loves the Blues.

Dancing to street busker rhythms in New Orleans

Dancing to street busker rhythms in New Orleans
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Zack Smith

Frenchmen Street: A Hub for Music Clubs

Within walking distance from the French Quarter, you’ll happen upon the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood and its famed Frenchmen Street. You know you’re in the right spot when you hear it: The live music scene is condensed into a three-block section jam-packed with clubs and lounges. First stop is The Spotted Cat, a quintessential Jazz club that caters to a diverse crowd: locals, tourists and celebrities. A happy vibe emanates from the patrons, musicians and staff. On Wednesdays, stop in for free swing dance lessons. Next walk down to Maison – a mega club with three floors dedicated to quality live music, drinks and good food. It’s non-stop entertainment seven days a week. If you prefer something more intimate and cozy, visit Three Muses. A tiny enclave, it serves up lively Jazz combos, craft cocktails and original small plates. Scoot in for a cocktail or dinner; stay longer for the enchanting music.

Jazz act at The Spotted Cat Music Club on Frenchmen Street

Jazz act at The Spotted Cat Music Club on Frenchmen Street
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Upscale Jazz in the City

For a little luxury and a lot of Jazz, move downtown to the Ritz Carlton New Orleans. Historic elegance greets you in the 1908 Beau Arts Maison Blanche building. Popular trumpeter Jeremy Davenport will play for you in his namesake club, the Davenport Lounge. Headliner Davenport studied with preeminent Jazz wonder, Wynton Marsalis, and was once a touring member of Harry Connick, Jr.’s Big Band. These days he’s wooing audiences in an intimate setting with sets on select weekday and weekend nights. Indulge in a well-curated menu of cocktails, wine, champagne and hors d’oeuvres.

Posh setting for Jazz performances at the Davenport Lounge

Posh setting for Jazz performances at the Davenport Lounge
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Getting There

Fly into Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans then rent a car, take a taxi or shuttle into the city.