I'm not sure, but I'm almost positive, that all music comes from New Orleans. Does it? The historians can apply themselves to the question, but meanwhile, visitors and residents alike find themselves offered an embarrassment of musical riches, both day and night, in this town: You'll mingle with brass-band street parades and dance sweaty-haired to post-midnight funk jams and sway to hot touring acts performing in glimmering fin de siecle amusement palaces. There's no closing time in New Orleans, the city that probably invented American nightlife -- so head out into that swampy, sultry, electric night, and see where it takes you. The ornate walls of One Eyed Jacks' odd-capacity showroom are edged with scarlet sparkle-vinyl banquettes and hung with midth-century pinup nudes painted on black velvet -- a louche, swank atmosphere appropriate to its history as an old French Quarter movie house and reputed speakeasy, the latter of which apparently left the club with a pair of ghosts. A slightly raked floor means there's not a bad sightline in the room, which is the premier downtown New Orleans destination for touring indie acts, hip local bands, and DJ nights, like the long-running and beloved Thursday night "Fast Times" '80s dance party. College kids mix with old punks and visitors, too, who are lucky enough to wander into the coolest spot in the touristy Quarter. Just off the streetcar line in the mostly residential Mid-City neighborhood, Chickie Wah Wah -- named for the tune by '60s rhythm and blues icons Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns -- is more than anything else a temple to the song.
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In our new series, we look at eight cities where live music has exploded — from legendary hubs like Chicago and Nashville, to rising hot spots like Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Portland, Maine. The latest? New Orleans , where Bourbon Street is only the beginning. Live music is thriving in the city beyond Bourbon Street, from the steadily growing number of clubs on Frenchmen Street to unlikely, one-of-a-kind venues like Music Box Village, where artists including Norah Jones and bounce legend Big Freedia have played among a backyard full of ramshackle sonic art projects. Any given night in NOLA you can catch traditional jazz, zydeco, swamp pop, funk, rap, and bounce — sometimes on the same bill.
Culture Trip stands with Black Lives Matter. From the s until his death in the s, Louis Armstrong was an acclaimed trumpeter and one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time. Today, the city continues to honor him with an eponymous park, which happens to be the site of numerous music festivals and events along with a three-day festival in August held around his birthday. Even the airport, where visitors are often greeted by jazz over the loudspeakers, if not a live band, is named after him. Allen Toussaint was a much-beloved musical icon and popular member of the community who was frequently spotted around town in one of his many classic cars, waving to passersby. Over the years, he recorded with both local artists and international superstars, including the Rolling Stones and The Who. Music remained his passion up until his death, where he died on tour at the age of 77 in Spain. He grew up in the Treme neighborhood, where music is a way of life.
Few cities have the kind of rich musical heritage that New Orleans does, its unique blend of Southern and creole culture producing sounds unlike those just one state over. From jazz to blues, soul to zydeco, New Orleans is one of a kind, and these 15 songs deserve a spot on any playlist of Big Easy essentials. But it became a standard of New Orleans jazz in the s, once Louis Armstrong put his own signature spin on it.