Weekend Getaways: Find Good Food and Good Jazz in New Orleans

Home of Shorty, Kermit and too many foot-stomping shows to count

Chris Gaitten
Live music at The Spotted Cat Music Club

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, New Orleans has been forced to prove its resilience once more. Within days, neon was shining in the French Quarter, and soon The Big Easy will again be humming with jazz, zydeco, blues and hip-hop. (You can donate to New Orleans Ida Relief here.)

As the city springs back, venture off the tourist drag of Bourbon Street. Start nearby, at the Quarter’s famed Preservation Hall, where the namesake jazz band plays three times every evening Thursday through Sunday. (Masks and proof of vaccination or a negative test are mandatory citywide as of press time.) Two streets away, The Starlight hosts multiple acts daily inside a converted Creole cottage that also houses Avila Grill, which melds Venezuelan cuisine with Cajun flavor. Then visit the New Orleans Jazz Museum to see its 25,000 artifacts, five rotating exhibits and live shows.

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Head north into Marigny to explore the great musical hub of Frenchmen Street. Stop in anywhere: Snug Harbor, D.B.A., The Spotted Cat Music Club, Bamboula’s. Further north, Kermit’s Tremé Mother-in-Law Lounge features brass bands and occasional sets from its owner, legendary hometown trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, who can sometimes be found cooking at the grill outside.

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The Soul Rebels also host a raucous Thursday night show at Le Bon Temps Roule a few blocks over. A small plaque on the storied bar notes that Lee Harvey Oswald used to sit there; he once lived down the street. It’s more of a quirky historical footnote than a nightly draw—people mostly flock for The Rebels’ brass bombast. In New Orleans, even the man who killed Kennedy gets second billing to the band.

Flights from Columbus to New Orleans

Breeze, twice weekly to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport; seasonal service through Southwest and Spirit

This story is from the October 2021 issue of Columbus Monthly.