Louisiana is made of live music. The beauty of Louisiana’s musical tradition is that it's a participatory one. People of all ages and backgrounds dance, often in the same club to the same bands. The lines between the bands, the music and the audience are often blurred in the juke joints, honky-tonks and dancehalls of Louisiana, creating an energy you are hard-pressed to find anywhere else. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are 10 live music venues where you can be sure to pass a good time.
Buck and Johnny's, Breaux Bridge
Whether you start your music adventure here with zydeco breakfast or end the night here with rocking live music, you have to experience the zydeco breakfast served every Saturday morning. Live music and tasty brunch fare are just a few of the highlights at Buck and Johnny's. Located on Breaux Bridge's picturesque main drag, this formerly abandoned car shop has been brought back to life as a multi-use restaurant and event space. Head to the Filling Station (a.k.a the bar) and enjoy the open air patio in between music sets. Definately wear your dancing shoes!
Fred's Lounge, Mamou
Fred's is only open during Mardi Gras and Saturday mornings, when they host the Cajun music radio show that has been running there since the 60s. It's a good time out in the Acadiana prairie. Don't be too shocked when Tante Sue takes a pull from the Schnapps bottle holstered to her waist and pops a piece of boudin to your mouth from a cardboard box as she makes her way around the dance floor.
Teddy's Juke Joint, Zachary
Teddy Johnson was born in the house that is now one of the last juke joints on Highway 61. He holds court, sometimes wearing a cape, from the shrine-like DJ booth in the back, carrying on and shouting out to the crowd over blues and R&B records or summoning the band to the stage. A dizzying, Christmas light-draped piece of living history, Teddy's is not to be missed.
Tipitina's, New Orleans
A trip to New Orleans would not be complete without experiencing live music at Tipitina's. This jamming venue, located in an old warehouse off Napoleon Ave. and Tchoupitoulas St., was founded in 1977. The name Tipitina's was inspired by the song "Tipitina" by Professor Longhair who played at the venue until his passing in 1980. The venue has played host to so many New Orleans music legends including Dr. John, the Neville Brothers and "Trombone Shorty" who have all graced the stage at this standing-room-only venue.
Preservation Jazz Hall, New Orleans
There is no more traditional a jazz haunt than Preservation Hall, a sparse square room in the tourist riot of the French Quarter. Pull up a spot on the floor and prepare to find out what New Orleans jazz has always and continues to sound like as the world’s finest practitioners of it wail every night of the week. Be prepared to tip at the end when those saints come marching in.
Ruby's Roadhouse, Mandeville
Located in Mandeville, on the north side of big ol' Lake Pontchartrain and a quick drive from New Orleans, this simple little roadhouse features big and local musicians. The sounds of New Orleans style jazz and brass funk, as well as the Cajun tunes born from the bayou pour out of this venue. The building is more than 100 years old, and has been known as a popular venue for African-American performers since the 1930's. Read more about the past performers.
Jolly Inn, Houma
Werlien Prosperie and his band Couche Couche keep the Cajun fais-do-do tradition alive every Friday night at the Jolly Inn, a charming restaurant and dance hall in Houma. You need not be an expert dancer; there is always someone ready to show you a step or two to get you in sync with this great Cajun tradition.
Enoch's Irish Pub, Monroe
This homey pub in Monroe has been playing congenial host to area blues and folk musicians since 1980. Artists like Jerry Jeff Walker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown have graced the stage that also hosts the occasional bluegrass and Irish music session. Like any proper pub, Enoch's is the kind of place you like to make your home base.
Blue Moon Saloon, Lafayette
This combination bar/live music venue/tourist hostel hosts Lafayette's finest music seven days a week. Everyone from the young blood Cajun groups like Lost Bayou Ramblers to world-renowned groups like Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys tear into it on the Blue Moon's back porch. It's pretty much a guaranteed good time no matter who's on the bill.
Rocky's Cajun Kitchen, Eunice
Welcome to Rocky's where live music fills the air multiple times a week. This restaurant and Cajun dancehall hosts jam sessions every Wednesday, while live music from Louisiana's Cajun musicians happen Thursday through Saturday nights. Drop in for a jam session, hear songs in Louisiana French, dance, eat and take in the Cajun culture.