It’s all music, all the time in New Orleans and with the success of the pilot season of the new HBO Television series “Treme,” a much-needed and amazingly accurate light has been shed on New Orleans in the post-Katrina years and, among its virtues is its showcase on the music of the Crescent City. From the big screen, to the real thing, the live sounds now shared with a world-wide audience are heard every night of the week in New Orleans. Come on down and experience it all first-hand.
You've Seen Them on the Big Screen, Now Experience it Live
Nearly every schoolboy in America knows that jazz began in New Orleans and it is still performed here in abundance four or five generations later. However, there is more than just jazz being played here, as Treme accurately portrays. The city is a big enough stage for nearly all genres of popular music and any night of the week you can find whatever suits your taste. A check of the local listings in the daily paper or any number of New Orleans-related websites will tell you what’s going on where, but just for starters, and in honor of the HBO series Treme, here are a few of the highlights of any given night of the week on the local music scene, many of which you’ll recognize from the show!
Music Every Night of the Week
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Preservation Hall (726 St. Peter Street). Going back to where it all began – to the deepest roots of jazz – the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a must-see, must-hear for any visitor to New Orleans. Cover charge. Call (504) 522-2841. Get there early for the best seats and grab a drink while you wait in line!
Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf Bar (8316 Oak Street). For the best in New Orleans brass band sound, as seen in the premier episode of HBO’s Treme, it’s well worth taking the ride on the historic St. Charles Avenue Streetcar to Oak Street in the city’s Carrollton neighborhood. Cover charge. Call (504) 866-9359.
Jerry Jumonville at the Spotted Cat (623 Frenchmen Street). Name a famous musician and there’s a good chance saxophonist Jerry Jumonville has played with them. Chuck Berry, Bette Midler, Maria Muldaur, Rod Stewart and more. Hear him live from 6-9:30 p.m. at this quaint, intimate little club on Frenchmen Street. Free. Call (504) 943-3887.
Irvin Mayfield at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta Hotel (300 Bourbon Street). In the tradition of great New Orleans trumpeters, Grammy Award winner Irvin Mayfield has kept the unbroken, century-old chain going into yet another generation. Hear him live at his own club playing standards and originals in an inimitable style. Free. Call (504) 586-0300.
Walter Wolfman Washington & the Roadmasters at dba (618 Frenchmen Street). As one of the first musicians to return to New Orleans and bring live music back to the city after Hurricane Katrina, guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington has ascended to near-legendary status. He plays blues, jazz, funk and more with equal virtuosity and intensity. Small cover charge. Call (504) 942-3731.
Treme Brass Band at Candlelight Lounge (925 North Robertson Street). What could be more appropriate for the “Treme” series than a namesake band for the neighborhood that is now getting national exposure. Led by drummers Benny Jones Sr. and “Uncle Lionel” Batiste, the band holds court every Wednesday night in, where else? The ‘hood they’re helping make famous. Free. Call (504) 571-1021.
Kermit Ruffins at Vaughan’s (800 Lesseps Street). Along with Irvin Mayfield, Kermit Ruffins is another vital link to the greatest trumpeters of New Orleans’ past. Playing himself in the “Treme” series, “Thursday’s at Vaughan’s” is the ideal time to catch him (and his barbecue!) in his element: a neighborhood bar in the Bywater section of the 9th Ward. Small cover charge. Call (504) 947-5562.
Soul Rebels at Le Bon Temps Roule (4801 Magazine Street). True to its name, “the good times roll” at this popular Uptown hangout whenever the Soul Rebels strike up the band. More of the best good ole New Orleans brass sounds! Small cover charge. Call (504) 897-3448.
Ellis Marsalis at Snug Harbor (626 Frenchmen Street). Patriarch of a legendary New Orleans musical family, pianist Ellis Marsalis performs two shows on Friday nights at “Snug,” the longtime anchor of the Frenchmen Street live music district. Playing with such greats as Cannonball and Nat Adderley and Al Hirt, he has become one of the most respected pianists in jazz. Call (504) 949-0696 for tickets and reservations.
“Fridays at the Market,” Dutch Alley (St. Philip & Decatur streets). A full lineup of bands in many genres, plus jazz lectures by leading authorities. Free. Call (504) 522-2621 ext. 205 to find out who’s playing when.
Mike Sklar and the Hip Shakers at the Apple Barrel (609 Frenchmen Street). For country blues at its best, guitarist Mike Sklar and his gang shake it up every Saturday night in this intimate little hot spot in the heart of the Frenchmen music district. Free. Call (504) 949-9399.
DJ Soul Sister, voted "Best DJ in New Orleans," presents the now-legendary Saturday late night dance party featuring vintage underground disco breaks, old school jams, rare groove moovers and deep funk with your behind in mind. Long-running for over five years upstairs at Mimi's in the Marigny (2601 Royal Street). Free. Call (504) 872-9868
Cajun Fais Do Do at Tipitina’s Uptown (501 Napoleon Avenue at Tchoupitoulas Street). For an authentic Cajun music experience, it doesn’t come any better than this. The Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band, comprised of accordion, fiddle and a tight rhythm section, mixes traditional Louisiana French music with original Cajun and Zydeco material. Bring your dancing shoes! Cover charge. Call (504) 899-4206.
And Now Learn to Play Jazz with the Pros at the Inaugural New Orleans Traditional Jazz Camp