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Local Favorites: New Orleans Bar Scene

If you want to laissez les bon temps rouler, look no further than New Orleans. The Big Easy has successfully emerged from the flood water as one of America’s favorite cities for food, fun and all that jazz.

While street bands will occasionally second line through the French Quarter and Treme neighborhoods, the best places to find authentic New Orleans music is the local bar scene. As a New Orleans native, I’ve pulled together my top venues for dancing the fais do-do to jazzy tunes in NOLA.

  • One Eyed Jacks: In the heart of the French Quarter on Toulouse Street, this concert hall/bar regularly hosts New Orleans favorites like Kermit Ruffins as well as hopeful up-and-coming bands with genres ranging from traditional jazz to funk to '80s tunes. The venue is split into two bars -- a smaller front bar with open French doors that pour into the street and a larger back bar with different levels, perfect for both listening and seeing the bands on stage.
  • Howlin’ Wolf: This bar has hosted a wide variety of acts from local bands to electronic DJs to popular rock bands like Foo Fighters. But its heart lies with homegrown legends like Rebirth Brass Band. Howlin’ Wolf is in the New Orleans Warehouse District, just east of the Central Business District.
  • Tipitina’s: Tipitina’s is my absolute favorite bar in Uptown New Orleans. At the corner of Napoleon Avenue and Tchoupitoulas Street, Tip's is a two-story Mecca for the New Orleans music scene, hosting gigs by Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Trombone Shorty, Flow Tribe and the Grammy-winning band Galactic. The bar runs the perimeter of the dance floor, and the second floor loft affords the best views of the stage.
  • Blue Nile: Skip Bourbon Street and stroll a few blocks to catch the sights and sounds of Frenchman Street. The Blue Nile is one of the longest-standing music clubs on the Frenchman strip and hosts many of the great bands mentioned above. Even walking around this area will provide constant musical and cultural entertainment.
  • Chickie Wah Wah: If you want a chill experience, head any day of the week to Chickie Wah Wah, a newer bar between uptown and downtown New Orleans on Canal Street. This bar is great for a quick bite while enjoying acoustic guitarists such as Anders Osborne or piano soloists like Jon Cleary.
  • Preservation Hall: Preservation Hall is the most traditional music venue on this list and has its own in-house jazz band by the same name. The building that houses all this ear candy was built in 1750 as a private residence and then served as a tavern during the War of 1812. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band has traveled the globe since its founding in 1961. The band plays jazz nightly from 8-11 p.m.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Los Angeles
Saturday, January 31, 2015
See more Tips from
Mary Walker Baus