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Fun Facts about New Orleans Bars 

Tips, trivia and inside info on New Orleans' music spots

click to enlarge Dave James and Tim Robertson do a live set at The Kerry Irish Pub. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

In New Orleans we are passionate about our history and rarely pass up opportunities to tell people what we know about the city we love. We never tire of learning tidbits about our streets, our buildings, people who have lived here and those who have visited. We keep our history alive by telling its tales over and over — and quizzing our companions about them. Here is some fuel for the next round of trivia — focusing on New Orleans music clubs:

  The Warehouse District music destination 12 Bar on Fulton (608 Fulton St., 212-6476; www.12barnola.com) is housed in a former coffee warehouse. Its name alludes to the chord progression popularized by 12-bar blues.

  Ancient Babylon was famous for its hanging gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Robert Burke, owner of Babylon Music and Sports Bar (2917 Harvard Ave., Metairie, 324-9961; www.babylonsportsbar.com) shares the Babylonians' interest in horticulture. Along with the Babylon, he owns Warrior Services LLC, a lawn maintenance company in Metairie.

  Banks Street Bar & Grill (4401 Banks St., 486-0258; www.banksstreetbar.com) wears its love for a diversity of music on its sleeve, with a collection of album covers and vintage guitars hanging on the walls. There's local music every night — ranging from singer-songwriter sets to rollicking indie bands — and there's never a cover charge. The bar is open 24/7.

  The renovated deck and lush landscaping alone are worth a trip to Bayou Beer Garden (326 N. Jefferson Davis Pkwy., 302-9357; www.bayoubeergarden.com), then there's also the long menu of beers from around the world (and a fully stocked bar), and the eight large plasma TVs for watching the Saints and LSU.

  Bayou Park Bar and Grill (542 S. Jefferson Davis Pkwy.,n.a.) — formerly the Delta Blues bar — showcases both musical legends, such as Walter "Wolfman" Washington, and talented newcomers. The bar recently unveiled a new coconut drink served in a 16-ounce coconut cup that customers get to keep. At barely 6 months old, the bar was voted one of New Orleans' top 10 bars by Gambit readers.

  The Beach House (2401 North Woodlawn Ave., Metairie, 456-7470) bar, restaurant and karaoke club was one of the first restaurants in Metairie to open after Hurricane Katrina, and many of its customers were military personnel, firefighters and police assisting with the recovery. The bar still offers a 25 percent discount to all men and women in uniform.

  The building housing Blue Nile (532 Frenchmen St., 948-2583; www.bluenilelive.com) was constructed in 1832 and is one of the oldest structures in the Marigny. In the early days of the Frenchmen Street music scene, it was the Dream Palace where the Radiators got their start. Today everyone from new brass bands to musical legends perform here.

click to enlarge Grab a cocktail and listen to a live band like the Revealers at Bayou Park Bar. Give the bar's new coconut drink a whirl. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Grab a cocktail and listen to a live band like the Revealers at Bayou Park Bar. Give the bar's new coconut drink a whirl.

  Boomers (Boomtown Casino, 4132 Peters Road, Harvey, 366-7711; www. www.boomtownneworleans.com/boomers-nightclub.aspx) covers a lot of taste bases with its signature Boomtown Bomb, exploding with a variety of flavors from the Hurricane mix, pina colada mix, Watermelon Pucker and rum used to concoct it.

  Although it's now a space for dining, drinking and live music (and, when Treme is on, viewing parties and concerts with musicians who have been on the show), the "back room" at Buffa's Lounge (1001 Esplanade Ave., 949-0038; www.buffaslounge.com) used to be where owner Vincent Buffa Sr. ran books before New Orleans made it illegal.

  The Capri Blue Bar (3100 19th St., Metairie, 834-8583; www.andreasrestaurant.com) was added on to Andrea's Restaurant after Hurricane Katrina and was inspired by the charm and ambience of Italy's Isle of Capri — where Chef Andrea Apuzzo was born and raised. The lounge features live piano music on Fridays and Saturdays. Ronnie Kole used to play here regularly.

  The Mid-City music club Chickie Wah Wah (2828 Canal St., 304-4714; www.chickiewahwah.com) is home to the stationary outlet of Taceaux Loceaux, a food truck font of creative tacos.

  Stevie Wonder has been known to sit in with whatever band happens to be playing at d.b.a. (618 Frenchmen St., 942-3731; www.drinkgoodstuff.com) when he's in town, and the club has been credited with anchoring Frenchmen Street as a music destination since it opened in 2000 — not to mention the place to go for a seemingly endless selection of good beers, wines and liquor from around the world. Look for a newly renovated stage in the music room and a Ponderosa Stomp showcase.

  There's a happy hour on Fridays in the lakefront lounge at Dish on Hayne (9734 Hayne Blvd., 301-0356; www.dishonhayne.com).

  The Funky Pirate (727 Bourbon St., 523-1960; www.tropicalisle.com) is the regular hideout of blues and R&B vocalist and adult nursery rhyme improviser Big Al Carson. Catch him and his band the Blues Masters Tuesday through Saturday.

  The Northshore music hub The Green Room (521 E. Boston St., Covington, 985-892-2225; www.myspace.com/green_room) offers a varied musical menu. It hosts live bands Fridays and Saturdays, DJs on Thursdays, open-mic nights on Wednesdays and karaoke on Sundays.

  The Hermes Bar (713 St. Louis St., 581-4422; www.antoines.com) at Antoine's was opened as a lounge just before Mardi Gras 2009. Before that, it was the second dining room opened by the restaurant (which was founded in 1840) and was later named the President's Room. In the early 1990s, it was decorated with Carnival artifacts and renamed for the Knights of Hermes.

click to enlarge Bayou Beer Garden is known for its menu of beers from around the world, but the bartenders can mix any concoction you want to drink while viewing sports on its many large plasma TVs. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Bayou Beer Garden is known for its menu of beers from around the world, but the bartenders can mix any concoction you want to drink while viewing sports on its many large plasma TVs.

  The Hookah (309 Decatur St., 943-1101; www.hookah-club.com) opened in 2003 on lower Decatur Street as a small coffee shop. It was one of the first hookah lounges in New Orleans before it moved to the corner of Frenchmen Street and became a restaurant. At its present location on Decatur Street, the Hookah has become a destination for nightclubbers who want to hear internationally acclaimed DJs and live bands.

  House of Blues (225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.houseofblues.com) lays claim to the largest collection of folk art in the country (almost 300 pieces are on the walls of the restaurant and music hall alone). There's also a metal box of mud from the Mississippi Delta under the stage, a tradition observed at all HOB venues.

  Irvin Mayfield, who opened his I Club (JW Marriott Hotel, 614 Canal St., 527-6712; www.iclubneworleans.com) in July, is the youngest member and the only musician on the National Endowment for the Arts' advisory council. President Barack Obama appointed Mayfield to a six-year term on the board in 2010.

  Twice featured on HBO's Treme, Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse (Royal Sonesta Hotel, 300 Bourbon St., 553-2299; www.sonesta.com) boasts a star-studded roster of regulars, including CNN's Soledad O'Brien, actor Wendell Pierce and political correspondents James Carville and Mary Matalin.

  Although Kerry Irish Pub (331 Decatur St., 527-5954; www.kerryirishpub.com) has expanded its musical offerings to include country and acoustic rock bands, it is one of the few venues around town consistently hosting live traditional Irish and Celtic performances.

  Maison (508 Frenchmen St., 371-5543; www.maisonfrenchmen.com) is a triple threat on Frenchmen Street. The tri-level bar/restaurant/music venue features live music every day as well as dinner service.

  The Maple Leaf Bar (8316 Oak St., 866-9359; www.mapleleafbar.com) has been home to many legendary New Orleans musicians, but its patron saint was pianist James Booker. And its poet laureate was Everette Maddox, who inspired the bar's weekly Sunday poetry readings. The bar's impromptu sit-ins by musicians such as Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt don't hold a candle to its first post-Katrina gig: Walter "Wolfman" Washington, powered by a generator.

click to enlarge 12 Bar on Fulton is located in a former coffee warehouse. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER

  Located in the heart of Harrah's New Orleans Casino is Masquerade (8 Canal St., 533-6000; www.harrahsneworleans.com), a cavernous space featuring gaming and a circular bar with an ice top and a video tower rising from the center for light shows. There are live music shows, a dance floor and an ultra lounge, with stylish banquettes and more private seating.

  Find Happy Talk Band songsmith Luke Allen manning the bar at the two-story watering hole Mimi's in the Marigny (2601 Royal St., 872-9868; www.myspace.com/mimisinthemarigny).

  Mojito's (437 Esplanade Ave., 252-4800; www.mojitosnola.com) specializes in rum, offering more than 40 brands from the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America. There's everything from light and dark rums and aged and spiced versions, to spirits from behemoth Bacardi and smaller labels like Haiti's Barbancourt, Jamaica's Appleton and Barbados' Mount Gay.

  Scenes from the 2006 film All the King's Men (based on Robert Penn Warren's novel about Huey Long) were filmed in the space that now houses Oak (8118 Oak St., 302-1485; www.oaknola.com).

  One Eyed Jacks (615 Toulouse St., 569-8361; www.oneeyedjacks.net) is riddled with secret passageways (the front bar connects with the bar in the main stage area, and the balcony connects to the DJ booth) to facilitate restocking during hectic, sold-out shows and accommodate low-profile visits from high-profile guests.

  Parlay's Bar (870 Harrison Ave., 304-6338; www.parlaysbar.net) in the heart of Lakeview has been a neighborhood institution for 30 years, where locals and foreigners alike come together for drinks, music and socializing. Maybe it's the $3 margaritas and Bloody Marys all day Sunday.

  The normally swanky interior of Republic New Orleans (828 S. Peters St., 528-8282; www.republicnola.com) got swathed in Visqueen and what director of marketing Nick Thomas calls "insane amounts of garbage bags" when Insane Clown Posse played there last December, dousing the audience with more than 500 gallons of Faygo.

  In its century-old history, the property where Rivershack Tavern (3449 River Road, Jefferson, 834-4938; www.therivershacktavern.com) sits has housed grocery and liquor stores, bars and residents. Rivershack opened in 1990 and two years later introduced the bar stools — shaped like wacky legs (cowboys, shrimp boots, etc.).

click to enlarge The staff makes sure guests have what they need to enjoy the piano performance of Joe Krown at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • The staff makes sure guests have what they need to enjoy the piano performance of Joe Krown at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse.

  There are five musicians rendered in artistic images in Rock 'N' Bowl (3000 S. Carrollton Ave., 861-1700; www.rocknbowl.com): Johnny Adams, Ernie K-Doe, Eddie Bo, Snooks Eaglin and Beau Jocque — all of whom had their last paid public appearance at the bowling alley/music club.

  The Rusty Nail (1100 Constance St., 525-5515; www.therustynail.biz) music club, housed in the building that formerly was the indie-rock institution the Mermaid Lounge, occasionally hosts New Orleans Ladies Arm Wrestling competitions. Now that's something to see.

  St. Claude Avenue newcomer Siberia (2227 St. Claude Ave., 265-8855) has an antler chandelier looming over the dance floor.

  While she was in town shooting a movie, Miley Cyrus once jumped on stage at the Shamrock Bar & Grill (4133 S. Carrollton Ave., 301-0938; www.shamrockparty.com) to join the cover band, which was playing a Joan Jett song.

  From the bar at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro (626 Frenchmen St., 949-0696; www.snugjazz.com), customers can often hear the modern jazz being played in the club room. One can also order the bar's longtime signature drink, the Monsoon, a rum punch with a house mix of juices served in a big cup. It'll keep you snug.

  The Esteve family, owners of Speckled T's After Dark (158 S. Military Road, Slidell, 985-646-1728; www.speckledts.com), are contractors for NASA. They run the Rocketeria Restaurant and catering facility at the John C. Stennis Space Center, a NASA rocket-testing grounds in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

  Tarpon Joe's Bar & Grill (2205 David Drive, Metairie, 887-9944; tarponjoes.com), the 30-year-old bar whose backyard is Lafreniere Park's two-mile walking track, attracts the Chuggers on Tuesday nights, a runners' club with members who buy pitchers of beer before and after their evening workout.

  If the staff at Three Muses (536 Frenchmen St., 298-8746; www.thethreemuses.com) looks eerily familiar and displaced, don't worry — you aren't suffering from an acute case of deja vu. Nearly half the staff, ranging from the chef to the bartenders, used to work down the street at Marigny Brasserie.

  LSU fine arts grad Kathleen Joffrion added the banana to Tipitina's (501 Napoleon Ave., 895-8477; www.tipitinas.com) logo in 1977 when the club opened — as a music hall and juice bar.

  The original Tropical Isle (435 Bourbon St., 525-1689; 600 & 610 Bourbon St.; 721 Bourbon St., 523-1927; www.tropicalisle.com) location was on Toulouse Street and opened right after the 1984 World's Fair. All locations serve its signature cocktail, the extra potent, melon liqueur-flavored Hand Grenade.

  Before it was the Columns Hotel, the popular St. Charles Avenue mansion was the private residence of cigar magnate Simon Hernsheim, whose New Orleans-based Hernsheim Brothers & Co. was the largest manufacturer of cigars in the U.S. Where the bar in the Victorian Lounge (Columns Hotel, 3811 St. Charles Ave., 899-9308; www.thecolumns.com) now stands used to be Hernsheim's dining room/study, where he would make deals with businesses all over the world.

  The land where Zaddie's Tavern (1200 Jefferson Hwy., Jefferson, 832-0830) now stands used to be next to a 21-acre horse-riding academy, until Ochsner Hospital purchased the land for $126,000 in 1951.

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