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New Orleans jazz band
New Orleans jazz band
Credit: Louisiana Dept. of Culture, Recreation & Tourism

"So many genres of music got their start in Louisiana," says Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, "not just jazz."

You will also find gospel, rockabilly, Cajun, rock 'n' roll, zydeco, hip-hop, rhythm and blues, country, bluegrass, classical, brass hop and swamp pop in Louisiana.

The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (code: MSY) is named after the famous trumpeter and singer who made Hello Dolly and What a Wonderful World classic songs. Louisiana even has two state songs, You Are My Sunshine and Give Me Louisiana.

New Orleans jazz

Musicians play on street corners, in nightclubs, in dance halls and in restaurants for jazz brunches. You can still encounter bands performing When the Saints Go Marching In as they lead processions during jazz funerals.

Preservation Hall (address: 726 St. Peter in the French Quarter) is undoubtedly the most renowned music venue in New Orleans. Whether you sit on a bench or on the floor, you will enjoy musical performances of old-time favorites as well as creative compositions.

Zydeco musicians with rubboard and accordion
Zydeco musicians with rubboard and accordion
Credit: Louisiana Dept. of Culture, Recreation & Tourism

Music spills out of the doors and windows of Bourbon Street nightclubs. You can hear concerts in the French Market, jam sessions in bars and bounce (a mix of rap and brass band jazz) in the streets of New Orleans.

Cajun and zydeco

No matter where you travel in Louisiana, you will find places to hear music, from roadhouses on Louisiana's Northshore to Delta juke joints in the rural northeast.

Opelousas, in St. Landry Parish, is a great place to hear zydeco music (a mix of Creole La-La music with rhythm and blues). Zydeco musical instruments include the accordion, rubboard (froittoir), fiddle and drums.

Zydeco and Cajun music have similarities and differences. Cajun instruments also include fiddles and accordions and sometimes the iron triangle (tit fer) and keyboard. Contemporary Cajun music is influenced by American country-western and rock 'n' roll genres.

Dancing to live music at New Orleans festival
Dancing to live music at New Orleans festival
Credit: Louisiana Dept. of Culture, Rec. & Tourism

Two-step dancing

It's nearly impossible to resist dancing to the toe-tapping music. One of the most popular places to two-step to live music is at the Liberty Theater in Eunice, LA.

Want to dance the Cajun two-step? Join the foot-stomping dancers at Randol's in Lafayette, Mulate's in New Orleans, La Poussiere Dancehall in Breaux Bridge and McGee's Landing in Henderson, LA.

Music museums

Across the state, museums document the performers, musical history and instruments used in Louisiana. At the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge, you will find zydeco, Cajun, jazz, blues and country music exhibits.

On North Louisiana's Music Trail, you can explore the Delta Music Museum in Ferriday. The Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans displays Louis Armstrong’s childhood bugle and cornet, photos and other memorabilia in its jazz collection.

There is even a Louisiana Swamp Pop Museum (address: 205 NW Railroad Avenue) at Ville Platte, in Evangeline Parish. Recordings and exhibits on swamp pop musicians, such as Johnnie Allen, Bobby Charles and John Fred, highlight the sounds and history of the music that originated in South Louisiana bayous.

Festivals & special events

Year-round events showcase all types of Louisiana music. In New Orleans, don't miss the Jazz and Heritage Festival and the French Quarter Festival in April, Essence Music Festival, in July, and Crescent City Blues & BBQ in October.

Capitol Park Museum music exhibit
Capitol Park Museum music exhibit
Credit: Visit Baton Rouge

Lake Charles in Southwest Louisiana celebrates the Cajun French Music & Food Festival in July. The Baton Rouge Blues Festival takes place in April.

Iberia Parish hosts the Clifton Chenier Zydeco Celebration in June at Loreauville. There is even a festival featuring up-and-coming musicians — the Ponderosa Stomp, held in October in New Orleans.

What's playing where?

You can search for musical entertainment by venue, from bars to dancehalls, on the LouisianaTravel website. Alternatively, search for places to hear music in Louisiana cities and regions.

A calendar allows you to search for music festivals by date. Most events in Louisiana, including Mardi Gras parades, feature bands and musicians. In addition, the GO NOLA app for mobile devices provides information about places where you can listen to live music in New Orleans.


Louisiana Travel