Best of Bourbon St

Sabrina Stone

Many tourists visiting New Orleans won’t make it off of Bourbon St, which is unfortunate, but not altogether unworkable. You’re here for a bachelor/ette party, a 21st birthday, a 30th birthday, you’re on a strict schedule of boobs and booze and blackouts — you can still squeeze in some good music.

Preservation Hall is the best place to catch a classic jazz band, filled with lifelong players, in a respectful setting. They offer five gigs a night, so a trip there is easy to fit into the schedule. They don’t have a bar or a bathroom (old school New Orleans) and you’ve got to pay cover in cash, so you’ll have to leave your drunk friends behind or bribe them with beers from next door or across the street and beg them for their patience– but this is the place to be. This is where the movie stars and celebrities and serious musicians come to humble themselves by sitting on the floor to drink in the music.

Musical Legends Park is a favorite place to sit and enjoy a coffee with open-air music at any time of the day or night. There’s a Cafe Beignet parked in there, so you’ve got lots of satisfyingly gluteny options to sustain you until the next bar. It’s a lovely lyrical respite.

Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub,a classic since the 60s, Maison Bourbon, a poshy jazz club, Bourbon O Bar, another “classy” joint, The Jazz Playhouse, a jazz club with a courtyard are all decent places to see jazz without stepping off the main stumble.

Famous Door is a raucous cover band bar, Fat Catz Music Club is another sporty cover band bar, B.B. King’s Blues Club, Tropical Isle, they’ve all got that classic, sloppy, good times Florida Keys style party vibe.

The main thing is, we’re in New Orleans, after all. All of these clubs hire locals and locals here know what they’re doing. They work hard, they’ve done their due diligence, they know the scales, they know the songs, they’ve got the requests, they’re happy to please. It’s hard to go wrong in this city when it comes to quality of musicianship. If you’re looking to not be stepped on or shoved and fall into vomit, I’d suggest going anywhere but Bourbon St. If you’re willing to pay the big bucks for the classier places on Bourbon but you’re still surprised by the lack of authenticity, that’s because you’re at Epcot Center. Head over to Frenchmen to see musicians enjoying themselves a bit more, and head to any other neighborhood to see musicians enjoying themselves fully.

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