Local Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Allen Toussaint's chartreuse suit and one of the WIld Tchoupitoulas' Mardi Gras Indian get-ups share the spotlight with Little Richard and Johnny "Guitar" Watson at the Hard Rock Café. (©Shawn Fink)
Contrary to popular belief, Bourbon Street wasn’t named for the libation poured in its many bars, but after the French royal family. Nor has it always been known as New Orleans’ party central. In fact, from its founding in the 1720s until the 1920s, the 14-block stretch remained largely residential. You can credit “Count” Arnaud Cazenave, of Arnaud’s restaurant fame, with bringing nightlife to Bourbon. In 1926 he opened Maxime’s in the 300 block, paving the way for numerous other nightclubs on what would become one of the most famous entertainment avenues in the world.
While the Bourbon Street scene has changed and evolved over the years from tony supper clubs to tawdry strip clubs to rowdy karaoke clubs, music has always been—and remains—a mainstay. Today you’ll find hip-hop, hard rock and jazz all coexisting in perfect harmony. Grab a go-cup and set off on a magical musical history tour.