While some tourists worry that the “real” New Orleans music-scene is made up of only never-ending jazz venues, in reality, the musical city’s voice and beat manifest in a staggeringly diverse set of genres. Indeed, New Orleans would not be the birthplace of jazz if it had not blended the other musical traditions that already had deep roots here.
seem to think that jazz is moody music played with brass instruments. But in
New Orleans, “brass” is a genre in and of itself, a rocking, danceable sound
that is definitely not what you
listen to while reading Albert Camus in a coffee shop. New Orleans brass is
dynamic; older bands may sound like the Dixieland-style Big Band orchestras from
the early 20th Century, while younger bands frequently blend in hip
hop and R&B.
the Soul Rebels at Les Bons Temps Roule (4801 Magazine Street; 504-895-8117) on
Thursday nights, and Rebirth brass band at the Maple Leaf on Tuesdays, to have all your preconceptions
about brass music blown out of the water. Both of these bars are relatively
near Tulane University, in leafy, lovely neighbourhoods. Other venues in this
area include Neutral Ground,
a coffee shop that doubles as a singer-songwriter stage, and Carrollton Station, a
bar that features similar sounds plus plenty of college rock.
New Orleans, near the city’s emerging arts and warehouse district, seeing a
band at the Circle Bar (1032 St Charles Avenue; 504-588-2616) is like watching
a show played in your living room. But because it is so small, the Circle
regularly books singer-songwriters and indie talent that the bigger clubs pass
up. Chickie Wah Wah, near the
Mid-City neighbourhood, offers a similar-sized venue and similar line-up of
independent talent that is much beloved by local music connoisseurs.
intend to stay in the French Quarter, check out One-Eyed Jacks, consistently one of the
best rock music venues in the American South. Local and international talent
regularly take the stage, and it also hosts a fantastic regular burlesque revue.
Walk 10 minutes from Bourbon Street towards Frenchmen Street (arguably the best
place in the world to listen to jazz music) and you will find the Dragon’s Den, which usually
looks (and sounds) like the set of a Metallica video. The Den always has a
crazy line-up, and regularly hosts all styles of metal and dubstep nights. Just
across the street is Maison,
where the jazz line up is supplemented by plenty of local dance DJs and indie
rock talent. Nearby, d.b.a serves up
some of the most diverse musical offerings in town and has a great beer menu to
of here to St Claude Avenue in the Bywater neighbourhood, an emerging part of
town where artists have been drawn by cheap rent. The Bywater is packed full of
music venues: the Saturn Bar (3067 St Claude Avenue; 504-949-7532) regularly
hosts punk shows; the Hi Ho lounge (2239 St Claude Avenue; 504-945-4446) has
Monday bluegrass jam sessions and bluegrass, folk, country and rock concerts
throughout the week; and at BJs (4301 Burgundy; 504-945-9256) you can catch the
blues-y rock tunes of King James and the Special Men on Monday nights. Just
around the corner is Vaughan’s (4229 Dauphine Street; 504-947-5562), where
local legend Kermit Ruffins tears up some trumpet-funk-brass fusion sounds on
For a unique
New Orleans evening, head to Club Fusion on AP Tureaud Avenue to hear bounce – a New
Orleans-born style of dance music that mixes hip-hop, call-and-response and a
high dose of synchronized dancing.
Do not forget
large venues like Tipitina’s (go to the Uptown location,
not the more touristy version in the French Quarter), a New Orleans classic
hotspot, and of course, the Rock ‘N’ Bowl,
where you can get in some time on the lanes before catching regular zydeco
shows, rock, rap and yes, jazz – because seriously, do not come to New Orleans
without hearing some jazz.
The article 'The other New Orleans soundtrack' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.