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Charles Wooten – New Orleans, the Mecca of Live Music

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I have heard a lot about the cities in the United States which are supposedly the home of live music, and having been to most I can honestly say that New Orleans is the very best for live music. It was Charles Wooten who originally mentioned this idea in a column that he wrote, rejecting the likes of Austin and Nashville in favor of NOLA. I had always wanted to visit the city anyway, and when Charles wrote this I knew that I just had to get myself down there.

Not only is there some of the country’s finest record stores in the city, but when it comes to live music, there really is nowhere better. Here is why I think that NOLA is the perfect place for live music.

Range of Genres

In none of the cities which I have been to around the country have I witnessed as many genres of music being played in the bars quite like they were in New Orleans. In fact sometimes on the same street you’d see jazz, blues, rock and rap, all blaring out of the bars as you walk past them. As someone who really loves a wide range of music this was such a wonderful experience because it means that you can pick and choose what you see, and you don’t have to go too far to hear it.

Small Town

Something else which I love about New Orleans is the size of the area where you will find live music. For example New York has some amazing live music, but it is just so spread out that you have to really plan where you are going to go. With NOLA however you don’t have to walk very far at all to switch things up and hear something new.

High Quality

Previously I felt that Austin had the highest quality of music which I had seen, but having witnessed multiple acts in New Orleans I can honestly say that this blew Austin out of the water. Honestly I have no idea why more of these artists aren’t already signed to labels, perhaps they are in fact. Some places you go to have great live music but there is very much a default level which they reach, good enough for a bar, but perhaps not for an album. I have bought many albums from the people I saw in NOLA and they sound just as good as they did live.


Something that often frustrates me when I see great artists is the way that the audience reacts, which really does have an impact on how much you enjoy yourself. I can honestly say however that in New Orleans, the audience loves to get involved, dance, jump, sing and let themselves go. I witnessed it more in this city than any other, which is another reason why I enjoyed the live music in this city more than others.

Which is the best city for you regarding live music?

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