Austin may tout itself as the live music capital of the world and Nashville may call itself “Music City,” but New Orleans holds its own when it comes to fantastic live music. Local and regional musicians taking to stages every night offer an array of styles, sounds and good times. Bourbon Street and its hipper counterpart Frenchmen Street have become well-known music hubs, but New Orleans boasts many other great venues in the Quarter and beyond. Next time you’re in town, venture off the beaten path and into the arms of these welcoming music venues to hear the most authentic New Orleans-style music.
1. Gasa Gasa
Gasa Gasa (pictured above) doesn’t limit itself to one musical style, but it does showcase more contemporary bands and artists. The exterior’s eye-catching mural reflects the venue’s youthful, vibrant neighborhood on blossoming Freret Street. Inside is a cozy space with a retro feel replete with a distinct geometric backdrop behind the stage, and a killer sound system. Even though the venue’s on the smaller side, music still packs a punch here.
2. House of Blues – Voodoo Garden
House of Blues may be known for booking major acts, but it’s their Voodoo Garden in New Orleans that provides the best access to local talent. This courtyard space regularly books up-and-coming local and regional bands, so audiences can enjoy new sounds in an outdoor setting. The best part is getting there; venture down an alley and through an entryway hanging with beads, skeletons and other kitschy New Orleans décor.
3. Circle Bar
Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty
A dive bar for the music lover, Circle Bar is not only located off Lee Circle but its main room is a circle. There are a few booths by the entrance, but the real action happens in the circular room, painted red to lend a warm ambiance to the small space that hosts indie bands. Worn down bricks and deteriorating plaster behind the bar make this feel like an authentic New Orleans spot both inside and out.
4. Hi Ho Lounge
Like many a New Orleans bar, Hi Ho Lounge comes in all shades of red to represent it’s bold hometown. The red also brings out Hi Ho’s bohemian-mixed-with-burlesque theme. Mirroring its interior, the venue’s red brick facade sets it apart from other buildings on St. Claude Ave. Hi Ho Lounge has a neighborhood feel, and they regularly book a range of musical styles like bluegrass, funk, indie rock and jazz.
5. Dos Jefes
Not only is Dos Jefes a great spot to hear jazz in all its incarnations, but it also doubles as a cigar bar. Situated near Tchoupitoulas Street’s end, its nondescript exterior belies the character inside. Wood paneling, picture-lined walls, plush couches and of course the warm glow of a cigar case make a night at Dos Jefes one of a kind. While the music plays, try one of the bar’s many tequilas or whiskeys.