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New Orleans top bars with live music 

Compare notes at these barrooms

click to enlarge Patrons drink draft beer at Sidney’s Saloon.

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

Patrons drink draft beer at Sidney’s Saloon.

BJ's Lounge
4301 Burgundy St., 504-945-9256; www.facebook/com/bjs.bywater
The vibe: This dim, beer-and-a-shot dive has a loaded jukebox and occasional live music blasting from an even-dimmer corner of the bar from locals like Little Freddie King and Guitar Lightnin' Lee. There are red beans and rice on Mondays and weekly hot plate dinners.
What you'll drink: Budweiser.

Blue Nile
532 Frenchmen St., 504-948-2583;
The vibe: In the heart of the Frenchmen Street strip, Blue Nile packs reggae, experimental jazz, funk and brass bands onto its two stages — one downstairs among its cosmic decor, the other upstairs with a balcony view for people-watching (drinking game: out-of-season beads and Hand Grenades).
What you'll drink: Double fist longnecks to cut down on waiting at the bar.

Chickie Wah Wah
2828 Canal St., 504-304-4714;
The vibe: Stripped-down alt-country outfits, intimate sets from singer-songwriters, blues howlers and music from around the globe are the soundtrack at this chilled-out (see: Jazz Festers) bar off the Canal streetcar line. Alexis & the Samurai holds a Monday night residence, Jon Cleary has Tuesday and Meschiya Lake & the Little Big Horns are Wednesdays.
What you'll drink: Local beers on tap.

Circle Bar
1032 St. Charles Ave., 504-588-2616;
The vibe: Let the chalkboard art be your guide. The daily lineup will give you an idea what kind of night you'll have. Punk rock, rock 'n' roll, scratchy-throated singer-songwriters and everything else in a stage-less, shoulder-to-shoulder dive. Or come in for a $20 haircut and a shot on Wednesday.
What you'll drink: Mixed drinks and beer.

618 Frenchmen St., 504-942-3731;
The vibe: The small, low-key but lively 15-year-old Frenchmen Street club hosts a who's who of local trad jazz, brass brands, roots rock and blues on its red-curtained stage.
What you'll drink: A globetrotting selection of beers in bottles and a rotating selection on tap.

Gasa Gasa
4920 Freret St.;
The vibe: A decidedly different kind of music club: bands (and the multi-colored panel behind them) are the screen for trippy film clips; a boat's prow and figurehead emerge from a wall; and hardcore punk and obscure metal releases are sold in the lobby's Sisters in Christ record shop. New York's The Bowery handles the lion's share of bookings, bringing in buzzy indie rock bands. There's also experimental jazz and a strong, young local lineup.
What you'll drink: Craft and domestic beers on tap or in bottles.

House of Blues
225 Decatur St., 504-310-4999;
The vibe: Choose your own adventure: Find big headliners in the club's main room, up-and-coming acts upstairs at The Parish, and free shows from local blues and funk players in Big Mama's Lounge and in the outdoor Voodoo Garden — all outfitted with New Orleans-centric folk art.
What you'll drink: mixed drinks and domestic beers.

Kerry Irish Pub
331 Decatur St., 504-527-5924
The vibe: Heavily decorated in bric-a-brac and all the comforts of a French Quarter dive with a slight Irish accent, the pub hosts Irish folk and singer-songwriter types every night of the week.
What you'll drink: Guinness.

One Eyed Jacks
615 Toulouse St., 504-569-8361;
The vibe: There's a Twin Peaks feel to the main room, where heavy red curtains line the stage and a black-and-white checkered dance floor is beginning to fade. A disco ball glimmers above the horseshoe bar, while black-clad, tattooed bartenders deftly handle concertgoers there for one of the city's best rock 'n' roll lineups.
What you'll drink: Mixed drinks and cans of PBR and Miller Lite.

Ooh Poo Pa Doo
1931 Orleans Ave., 504-435-3384;
The vibe: Just shy of its two-year anniversary, this Treme bar doesn't look a day past 50. The bar is named after the hit by Jessie Hill, whose daughter Judy owns the bar and sees it as a neighborhood institution-in-the-making. Hill's grandson James Andrews holds a weekly residence, along with New Orleans giants like Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Brother Tyrone & the Mindbenders.
What you'll drink: Domestic beer and the fruity Ooh Poo Pa Doo cocktail.

2227 St. Claude Ave., 504-265-8855;
The vibe: Black metal gauntlets and corpse paint or neon leggings and booty shorts. King Diamond or Katey Red. This St. Claude bar is home to metal mammoths as well as bounce superstars. Its nightly lineup also has garage rock, singer-songwriters and DJ dance parties.
What you'll drink: Beer in a bottle, liquor in a cup.

Sidney's Saloon
1200 St. Bernard Ave.,
The vibe: Recently renovated and reopened by Molly's at the Market veterans, the neighborhood bar has a room for dancing. You'll need it for rhythm-and-blues outfit King James & the Special Men, who hold a Monday night residency.
What you'll drink: Cocktails and local beer.

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