NOLA's Finest: Top New Orleans Musicians and Where to Find Them
We're probably not surprising anyone when we call New Orleans a musical city. You can't throw a tomato in this town without hitting a saxophonist, and a five minutes' walk is usually all it takes to find a solid free concert. As you'd expect, more than a few of NOLA's native sons and daughters have gone on make waves on a national level. We've compiled a (very) short list of New Orleans' best musicians that covers a few (very) different genres. But we didn't just choose them on name alone – nope, all four are going to be in town soon. If you've got an itch to hear some live music, you're in the right place.
You know we couldn't make this list without the Night Tripper. Dr. John is as quintessentially New Orleans as red beans and rice, and he's been around almost as long. A true cajun, with NOLA roots two centuries deep, Dr. John's been playing since the 50's. His 1968 Gris-Gris was a mashup – half classic rhythm and blues, and half wild psychadelic rock. It was a little ahead of the '68 curve, but in 1972-74, he hit the mark with a string of funk and R&B releases, peaking in 1973 with the blockbuster In the Right Place. The album secured him a place as a cornerstone of the NOLA music scene, one that he's kept to this day. His most recent album, Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satchmo, a tribute to Louis Armstrong caught positive reviews just this past September. The accompanying tour is in progress right now, and while Dr. John's overseas at the moment, you can catch him in Lafayette this coming February.
Sludge metal might not be the first genre to come to mind when you're talking NOLA music. Even so, the Big Easy has produced some of the most influential metal acts of the past couple of decades. Crowbar is right at the top of the list, along with a couple of other bands with names we we're a little hesitant to put on a family-friendly website. Menacing, moody, downtuned guitars – all part of the sound that Crowbar helped make synonymous with the NOLA metal scene. They also come with a reputation for incredible live shows (with much less mayhem than their famous 90's performances) that make them more than worth a walk on the metal side. Jump over to Florida in December if you're curious.
Ask an out-of-towner about New Orleans' hip-hop heroes, and you're probably going to catch an earful about Lil Wayne. We'll put personal feeling about Weezy aside here, but that does seem a little limiting. Especially when NOLA can lay claim to someone like Jay Electronica. Electronica's brand of cerebral music took some time to catch on, but catching on it is. After years of generating buzz with his enigmatic, ambitious mixtapes, he signed with Jay-Z's Roc Nation label in 2010. An album has been dangling ever since, and after four years, it looks like it's nearly arrived (fingers crossed). In the meantime, you can see him live right here at the Howlin' Wolf in early December.