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RE: New Orleans Club Recommendations Please

Frenchmen Street still has some good music, but it has transitioned from a scene for and by local musicians and fans to more of a tourist party scene. Still worth a visit, but mainstream jazz club Snug Harbor is really the only destination (i.e., one would make special plans to hear someone in particular perform there instead of just checking out the scene.) Besides Tipitinas' (not nearly as vital a place it was 20 or 30 years ago) the other long running Uptown stalwart The Maple Leaf bar is still going strong with the Rebirth Brass Band every Tuesday night when they are in town, and George Porter Jr. (the Meters bassist) and John Vidacovitch (Astral Project drummer) most Thursdays with special guests (such as trumpet whiz Nicholas Payton.) These two are absolute legends. Another club a similar roots bar aesthetic is Chickie Wah Wah in MIdcity. And New Orleans best roots band the Iguanas now hold down the early set most Wednesdays at the Circle Bar. And like Frenchmen Street, some good musicians can still be heard on Bourbon Street. Modern jazz saxophonist/composer Rob Wagner holds down the Sunday morning slot at Cafe Beignet in the 300 block of Bourbon (pleasant place for coffee and breakfast--not the average Bourbon St. clip joint.)

Some of the older Frenchmen Street vibe can be found on St. Claude Ave. where the Hi Ho Lounge, The Allways Lounge, and Siberia are all within half a block of each other. They are all eclectic spaces presenting everything from folk and punk to burlesque to avant-garde jazz and improv. If the latter is of interest, the Instant Opus series at the Hi Ho on Mondays and Anxious Sound on Thursdays should be on your agenda. (You can follow both on Facebook.) And if you are interested in this scene, you should check out the Sidebar. Set right behind the criminal court building and near the jail, the D.A. and police headquarters, you will be the only tourist in sight at the intimate bar that regularly books some of the most creative musicians in town and lets them do their thing.


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