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Best music: Frenchmen Street

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sacramento
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Best music: Frenchmen Street

I'm just back from the weekend with 10 people in NOLA and one of our best late nights was on Frenchmen Street. If you're looking for great music, this 2 block long neighborhood is the real deal. The Bourbon Street bars are trying to outdo one another with the loudest music and the most scantily clad girls offering drinks in test tubes, but the clubs on Frenchmen are much better venues for music and the people are actually there to listen and dance to it! Most of the people were 20s or 30s, and local. Especially liked The Spotted Cat and Maison. Maison also serves food (though I don't think I'd eat there) and has some couches at the back if you want to get a little farther back from the music; the sign at the host podium reads, "If you are going to take someone home tonight you should eat something first". Most of the clubs don't seem to charge a cover; they just ask you to have at least one drink. Outside in the street, more musicians played for tips... and they were terrific, too. (One pitched, "You can buy an imaginary CD for just $5!")

hamilton ontario
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1. Re: Best music: Frenchmen Street

I agree, Frenchman Street is the best. Sure you have to see Big Al Carson at the Funky Pirate, Preservation Hall if you get tickets, and Fritzel's is great also, all on Bourbon Street. But the true essence of what I thought NOLA would be, as a first time visitor, was Frenchman Street. How is this for one night, drinks at the Spotted Cat where we caught the Panaroma Jazz Club, followed by great beers at the d.b.a with the fantastic John Boutte. To cap the night off, great late night burgers at the Snug Harbour. Frenchman Street hooked me, definitely coming back to NOLA soon and spending much more time there.

Ipswich...
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2. Re: Best music: Frenchmen Street

I agree, once I discovered the music on Frenchmen I never went back to Bourbon Street!

Minnesota
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3. Re: Best music: Frenchmen Street

We were in New Orleans just a few weeks ago and completely agree with your assessment. The clubs on Frenchmen are so close to each other that you can walk from one to another in seconds and enter the pub that has the music that appeals most to you. We loved d.b.a. and the Spotted Cat for the music. There are many B&Bs too in the Marigny neighborhood and places to eat as well. I heard that Frenchmen is what Bourbon St. was like some decades ago before the music on Bourbon came to what it is today plus the strip clubs. Of course, there are places for music all over the city but Frenchmen gives you such good choice all in one small area.

New York City, New...
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4. Re: Best music: Frenchmen Street

unclelouie, it's true that Bourbon Street was all live jazz once upon a time, and by that measure, Frenchmen Street feels more authentically New Orleans than Bourbon Street has felt in eons. I love Frenchmen Street, and pray it hangs onto its integrity.

Strip clubs are an old presence on Bourbon Street, dating back to the demise of vaudeville. Old-fashioned, classic striptease peaked in the nineteen forties and fifties. By the sixties, things were starting to get raunchy on Bourbon Street and now.....well, it is what it is.

Some burlesque history:

frenchquarter.com/history/vintageburlesque.p…

Edited: 06 April 2011, 15:26
Minnesota
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5. Re: Best music: Frenchmen Street

Yes, I guess I was really referring to the raunchy type of clubs along today's Bourbon St. plus the music seems really to be blasting from the pubs that feature music. There's little that seems classy about what's there today. However, Fritzel's (it's on Bourbon St.) was a favorite pub of ours when we were in New Orleans recently and it seems to be the exception rather then the norm. There you can hear traditional jazz played by really good musicians. I too hope that Frenchmen keeps up its current vibes going.

Regina, Canada
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6. Re: Best music: Frenchmen Street

Hey, even the lower stretch of Decatur with the balcony Music Club across from Checkpoints is fun. Yes, definitely, Frenchmen is probably the hottest, most creative five blocks of music in the world right now.....amazing stuff, while I was there a fine brass band began playing in the corner right by the Frenchmen Hotel....they gathered a few more musicians, a crowd...and led us all into a bar right by Checkpoint....blasted the brass blues...a legless trumpet player in a wheelchair rolled in and blew the place away!

They proceeded up Frenchmen and I followed that band as it evolved and players came and went. At least four other clubs and maybe 35 total musicians,,,,

And that doesn't describe the streetlife. I' basically a hippie so I was right at home...lets say that.

Orlando, Florida
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for New Orleans
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7. Re: Best music: Frenchmen Street

The locals evolved to Frenchmen St. quite awhile ago but as others suggested do not miss the Funky Pirate and Fritzels (right next to each other) or preservation Hall.

Regina, Canada
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8. Re: Best music: Frenchmen Street

Sure, and don't miss the Maple Leaf with the Rebirth Brass or Rads...Rock and Bowl with anyone...Vaughn's with Kermit....NOLA music is NOT static, that's for sure....the Quarter is real fine....but sometimes, when you seek a jewel you need to search.

Frenchmen is a good place to start. Maple Leaf is a good place to stop.

New York City, New...
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9. Re: Best music: Frenchmen Street

>> "I guess I was really referring to the raunchy type of clubs along today's Bourbon St. plus the music seems really to be blasting from the pubs that feature music."

- - - - - - - - - - -

Unclelouie, I knew exactly what you were talking about.

The charms of Bourbon Street have always been raffish. In my 60 years, I can't say that I've ever known the street to be "classy," but the vibe has certainly changed over the years. In the '50s and early '60s, Bourbon still had a dark and somewhat mysterious "carnival" atmosphere, and the live jazz didn't make your eardrums bleed. Nowadays, the sleaze 'n' cheese is in your face, and really loud.

It's still worth seeing if you've never seen it, and there are, as you say, clubs and bars on Bourbon Street well worth visiting. It's just nice to have Frenchmen Street as an alternative.

Love your story, Sachabear. Serendipitous musical happenings are one of the great glories of this city, and anyone willing to go with the flow will invariably stumble into some amazing scenes.

And yeah....dynamite street life on Frenchmen.

; )

Colorado
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10. Re: Best music: Frenchmen Street

I think it is folly to peg any part of New Orleans the best for this or that. Frenchman Street is great for music, but so is uptown (Tips, Maple Leaf and others) so is warehouse district (Republic, Howlin Wolf), so is the quarter for certain events; so is mid city (Rock and Bowl) so is the Bywater (Vaughns) and numerous other venues.

New Orleans = the best music!