Cornetist Buddy Bolden, one of many jazz pioneers honored in Armstrong Park. (©Shawn Fink)
From Jelly Roll Morton to Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, New Orleans has a long and rich musical heritage. The rhythm of long-ago drumbeats rises up from Congo Square and echoes of the Al Hirt’s trumpet linger along Bourbon Street, while modern-day musicians seek to make their own marks on the local music scene.
Want to spend a music-inspired day in the Crescent City? Here’s a suggested itinerary from Where New Orleans Editor Doug Brantley:
A little music with your coffee? The Court of Two Sisters serves up omelets, etouffée and live jazz daily. Grab a table in the courtyard, shaded by a century-old wisteria vine. Or dust off a few beignets with Allen Toussaint, Fats Domino and more local greats at Musical Legends Park. Music is also on the morning menu weekends at Commander’s Palace, where the concept of jazz brunch originated.
You’ll hear legends in the making most any morning around Jackson Square, where brass bands start tuning up well before noon.
Grab a red beans-and-rice-topped “Satchmo Dog” from Dreamy Weenies and picnic in Armstrong Park, just across the street. Take a few selfies with Louis, Buddy Bolden and statues of other jazz giants. Armstrong also offers the free weekly Jazz in the Park concert series, Thursdays from 4 to 8 pm.
Head to Frenchmen Street and rummage the racks at the Louisiana Music Factory, home to the world’s largest selection of New Orleans recordings. Though it may seem quiet during the day, at night Frenchmen makes big noise after sunset with a number of great live music clubs.
Need a little music right this very minute? Settle in at the Spotted Cat, where performances begin at 2 pm on weekends (4 pm on weekdays) and keep going well into the night.
Take a spin at the Carousel Bar, which gets swinging at 5 pm on Thursdays and Fridays, or swing back to the 1940s at the Stage Door Canteen with “The Andrews Brothers” accompanied by throwback fare from the adjacent American Sector restaurant.
Music history comes alive at the historic Little Gem Saloon, a beautifully restored jazz landmark where you can drink, dine and dance the night away all under one roof. The Jazz Playhouse keeps the beat on Bourbon Street, while the Preservation Hall provides the perfect end to a music-filled day, as it has since the early 1960s.