DownBeat Venue Guide 2011: New Orleans, LA

February, 2011

Blue Nile
532 Frenchmen St.
(504) 948-2583
Prepare to shake a tail-feather with a mish-mash of college students at this no-frills funk mecca, where super groups and Neville-peppered outfits are the norm. Check the lower-fi upstairs Balcony Room for projects by local jazz composers like Jonathan Freilich or Jeff Albert.

Chickie Wah Wah
2828 Canal St.
(504) 304-4714
Catch a dose of traditional jazz vocal harmony, courtesy of the Pfister Sisters, whose rich, three-part classics cast a ‘40s vibe on this busy Mid-City room once a month. Local blues, swamp rock and Latin outfits add to the charm – as does the affordable, Caribbean-inspired dinner menu.

618 Frenchmen St.
(504) 942-3731
A mixed music bag, d.b.a.’s whiskey worshipping walls are often lined with sweaty fans, devouring the club’s locavore rock bills. But when the vibe mellows, bills featuring sousaphone-washboard-guitar trio, The Tin Men, vocalist John Boutte and blues legends like Walter Wolfman Washington and Little Freddie King sweeten the deal.

Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse
300 Bourbon St.
(504) 553-2331
Harkening back to the days when Bourbon Street was all about music, this elegant space inside the Royal Sonesta presents the city’s leading modern jazz players at no cover charge. A great opportunity to catch new work by the likes of Jason Marsalis, David Torkanowsky, Shamarr Allen and the venue’s namesake.

The Maple Leaf
8316 Oak St.
(504) 866-9359
Brass band fans and funksters sweat it out nightly under the Leaf’s pressed tin ceiling, while less rambunctious listeners enjoy the show from beneath the banana palms out back. ReBirth, Papa Grows Funk and Johnny Vidacovich’s trio make up the club’s staple, danceable menu. BYO air conditioning.

Ogden Museum of Southern Art presents Ogden After Hours
925 Camp St.
(504) 539-9600
The museum casts an educational net on music lovers at this weekly, family-friendly, 6 p.m. series focused on introducing both emerging and veteran southern musicians to new audiences. Following each live music segment, featured artists discuss their careers in an interview with a local music journalist.

Palm Court Jazz Café
1204 Decatur St.
(504) 525-0200
Old world New Orleans lives at this sometimes touristy but undeniably charming Creole restaurant and traditional jazz venue. The crowd skews a bit older, but then, so do the tunes. Aim for a night featuring Lionel Ferbos, Wendell Brunious, Lucien Barbarin or Tim Laughlin.

Preservation Hall
726 St. Peter St.
(504) 522-2841
The Hall has kept the traditional New Orleans jazz flame alive since 1961 with a house band featuring a host of esteemed local players. The all ages audience queues up 30 minutes before each set, except during special events, when anyone from U2’s The Edge to Trombone Shorty is likely to sit in, and advance ticket buys are recommended.

Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro
626 Frenchmen St.
(504) 949-0696
An intimate room with great acoustics, this downtown classic presents two straight-ahead New Orleans jazz shows nightly, featuring names like Ellis Marsalis, Herlin Riley, the Thelonious Monk Institute Young Lions and Astral Project. Chatty diners can avail themselves of the mezzanine to avoid disturbing serious listeners.

The Spotted Cat
623 Frenchmen St.
(504) 943-3887
Roots-influenced jazz dominates this airy, Frenchmen strip room. Stop by to catch Brett Anderson’s daily 4 p.m. solo piano set and keep an eye for out Washboard Chaz, whose bluesy vamps have inspired an entire music festival to be named in his honor.

Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club
1931 St. Claude Ave.
(504) 945-9654
For a somewhat formal experience in a classic New Orleans environment, get a little gussied up and head to the 9th Ward to catch world renowned bandleaders like Nicholas Payton, or the Sunday jazz brunch. Live jazz and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday — call for schedule.

Three Muses
536 Frenchmen St.
(504) 298-TRIO
This art-adorned, newbie tapas joint and jazz club is somewhat more serene than many of its frenzied Frenchmen Street neighbors. Expect solid contemporary jazz with a Louisiana bent and lots of vocalists: Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown, Glen David Andrews and anything featuring Debbie Davis are good bets.

501 Napoleon Ave.
(504) 895-8477
What began as a fan-made venue for Professor Longhair, now pays homage to the greater music community through a variety of jazz-influenced bookings and a foundation devoted to supporting the local culture and music education. Free, Sunday afternoon workshops, taught by popular New Orleans musicians, are a worthwhile treat.

Vaughn’s Lounge
4229 Dauphine St.
(504) 947-5562
Mayor Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers preside on Thursday nights, where, with a little good mojo and an early arrival, you might get some food hot off the grill. Drinks are cheap and generous, and the music happens barroom-style at this low-key corner spot in the Bywater.


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