Discovering Jazz and Live Music in New Orleans
Whether you come during Mardi Gras or on any time of the year, there are only a few places on the planet that touch the senses the way New Orleans does. As soon as you enter the French Quarter, which is the small historic center of the famous town on the Mississippi, you are enveloped by the visual beauty of its 18th century colonial buildings, by seductive scents of Cajun cuisine and the sounds of jazz coming out of restaurants and street corners.
Listen to Music in the Birthplace of Jazz
Of course, aside from Mardi Gras, New Orleans is mostly known as the birthplace of jazz. This uniquely American art form developed here 100 years ago when African American musicians absorbed European music elements and created their own unique sound. To this day in New Orleans, you can still enjoy it casually on almost every street corner or visit a real jazz club. No matter where you decide to listen, your New Orleans experience is not complete without hearing some authentic jazz.
Top Jazz Venues
There are countless music halls and jazz venues to choose from throughout New Orleans, but both jazz lovers and novices should catch a performance at Preservation Hall. This is a true New Orleans institution, where you can witness this quintessentially American art form still played in its original form.
Another great location to catch live jazz is Frenchmen Street, just about a block outside the French Quarter. This lively area has come to be known by the locals as one of the best places to enjoy live music and food in the city. There are countless music halls and jazz clubs to choose from, and one particular favorite is the Spotted Cat Music Club. The sign outside the door said the music begins at 4 p.m. and doesn’t end until 2 a.m. (a schedule typical of New Orleans entertainment), so there’s no excuse for missing out!
Music & Dancing in the Streets
All throughout the French Quarter, expect to see street musicians, performers and fine artists showing their work in public view. The street musicians in particular are often the source of visitors’ most unforgettable moments. Imagine coming out of one of the shops on Royal Street as a street parade is just passing by. Known as “Second Lines,” these impromptu street parades are a proud New Orleans tradition. Or, you might be wandering the streets when a local Dixieland band complete with washboard, tuba, upright bass and drums sets up on a street corner. Passersby might just start dancing while a crowd of locals and visitors casually gathers on the sidewalk to listen as the sun sets.