Walking along the Mississippi to the soulful tune of a lone sax player is a quintessential New Orleans moment. In this vibrant city known around the world as a music Mecca, a deep pool of talent not only energizes the club scene but also enervates sidewalks from Royal to Frenchmen. Playing to an all-ages crowd, unlike the 21-and-over bar and club audience, street buskers can be found during the day in the 300-800 blocks of Royal Street, with regulars like Doreen’s Jazz usually camped out in front of Rouse’s Supermarket.
Come evening, famous Frenchmen Street is alive with raucous corner brass bands. On any night of the week along this Marigny avenue, within a two-block stretch, you can second line down the street with a brass band, catch a reggae groove at Cafe Negril and swing dance at the Spotted Cat. Just across the street, get down with rootsy rock and brass at d.b.a. and pay homage to one of the first families of jazz at Snug Harbor, a straight ahead jazz club that spotlights patriarch Ellis Marsalis and his trio every Friday night.
Just don’t go cheap on the bands. When the tip jar comes your way, be generous. In a town so rich with great music, musicians are still playing hard to make ends meet.
Café Negril, 606 Frenchmen St., 504.383.5131, cafenegrilonfrenchmen.com
Spotted Cat Music Club, 623 Frenchmen St., 504.943.3887, spottedcatmusicclub.com
d.b.a., 618 Frenchmen St., 504.942.3731, dbaneworleans.com
Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, 626 Frenchmen St., 504.949.0696, snugjazz.com