Preservation Hall, New Orleans
To get a taste of some authentic New Orleans Jazz, you must go to Preservation Hall. It is open nightly from 8 pm - Midnight. Rustic interior, bench seating, no smoking or drinking. It is a real "Nawlins" experience. Lines can be long, so get there early.
On a mission to overload my senses with as much of NO as possible in one long evening, I didn't have the patience to wait for space to open up at Preservation Hall. But the meta-tourist in me was intrigued by what I saw looking inside through the windows from the street. The place was absolutely packed with what I'd describe as 'happy NPR listeners'. The audience was overwhelmingly older, white, sober and oh so intent. They were clearly having a wonderful time with the 'museum' jazz experience.
Don't get me wrong -- I believe in the importance of preservation and I like traditional New Orleans Jazz. It just didn't happen to be what I was looking for during my short stay. Luckily I got a hot tip later on in the evening that sent me to Vaughn's for a gutsier, less wholesome, more authentic(?) NO jazz experience.
Notes: $5 admission, open 8 - midnight, all ages venue
No trip to New Orleans is a valid trip without a visit to this place, right next to Pat O'Briens on St. Peter St.
Preservation Hall opens at 8:00 pm nightly, and the entrance fee is reasonable at $5.00 (though only a few decades ago, it was just a donation to get in)
Be prepared for mostly standing room only during 20 minute sessions of authentic old rag-time jazz (you're only allowed to be there for 20 minutes and trust me, you won't be able to take much more than that as you'll most likely be jam packed in there.)
I don't think flash photos are allowed, but I'm not sure. These days, you have to pay an extra donation if you want to hear "When the Saints Go Marching In" - which kind of makes me mad, but usually there's someone in the group who will spring for it, and it's a real highlight.
No trip would be complete without a stop at Preservation Hall. This is old-time New Orleans Jazz at its finest. A fantastic interactive show with a very personal feel.
Grab a seat on the floor if you can, so that you can make eye contact with the band. They feed off of the enthusiasm of the crowd.
It's only $5 to get in, and it's quite a show!
Opens nightly 8:00 pm til midnight. The first set is at 8:30 pm. There are no food or drinks, but the sets are only 35 minutes long.
Go enjoy a set, and then go for snacks.
Dress Code: No dress code
For a taste of the New Orleans jazz scene, Preservation Hall is always on the top of the list. It's been featuring jazz for 45 years and continues to do so 8pm-11pm every night.
Established in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe to counter the rising popularity of modern jazz and rock n' roll, it quickly became a "sanctuary to protect and honor New Orleans jazz".
Music fans of all ages are welcome, so youthful fans should feel comfortable here. Bench seating is limited and standing or sitting around the room is common.
Although we didn't attend a performance here, we absolutely wanted to see it! The rather plain exterior contrasts with the lively atmosphere within. A cover charge of about $10 gives one entrance unless a special performer is highlighted. (No beverages or smoking permitted).
The Preservation Hall was really high on my list because I knew about the legendary jazz venue in the French Quarter that was founded back in 1961. I took pic 3 early in the morning, yes, this old place is a great jazz venue!
The place itself is a unique experience. You have to go early, an hour before the doors open the line forms outside the old building and when the doors open there will be a limited amount of people that will go inside(first come first served).
The admission is $12 and really worth it if you want to hear some traditional New Orleans jazz music in a traditional venue. Once inside you will realize that’s the place is not only old but also tiny and that you have to sit at some really uncomfortable wooden benches or down on the floor in front of the band(check pic 2). The second surprise is that there is no bar, yes you cant drink anything here but maybe that’s good because there’s no restrooms too!! :)
But when the music starts you wont really care, you will get lost in the music. This is New Orleans, Dixieland jazz is the thing that you will be served here, a true cultural experience although you wont be the only tourist inside! :)
Doors open at 20.00, the music starts at 20.15 (till 23.00) daily. A sign informs that traditional requests cost $2, others $5 and The Saints $10 :)
Don’t forget that you can buy band’s music from the stand at the entrance(pic 4), they have some really good cds there (with old bands that play here but also the new one) although I preferred the vinyl edition that I found at record stores in NO.
Preservation Hall is the place to go to enjoy traditional jazz performances. Come early and queue for entrance to this legendary place. There aren't many seats so keep in mind that you have to stand for 30 minutes, but if you like jazz, it's worth it.
Dress Code: Casual
This place is dedicated to preserving the art of jazz. They take their music seriously. There is no food or drink served in the hall, which is really just an old horse stable that has been renovated into a performance hall. You walk in and drop $5 into a collection bowl and then around 8:30 the music starts. Sets last around a half hour with brief intermissions in between. If you want to step away from the insanity of the Quarter and into a place as pure as they come, this is it.
Dress Code: Come as you are.
preservation hall is located in a 1750 building on st. peter street. in 1961 preservation hall was established to honor and protect new orleans jazz. preservation hall is home to the world famous preservation jazz band. for those you like new orleans jazz music this a must do stop in new orleans.
Dress Code: casual.
Preservation Hall is a great place to go and listen to jazz. We did not get in, but heard good things about it from locals. The tickets are $5 and the show is a couple of hours. It is in a very old building (as a bartender said "It costs a lot of money to make a building look that old"). They are great musicians (I did buy a CD) who love to play and have for several decades there.
The only trick is you have to get in line about an 1-11/2 ahead of show time to get tickets. You will see a large line forming. My advice: Go into the bar across the street and watch the line and get in when you feel comfortable.
The only draw back to PH is you can not drink, smoke, or eat inside (very contradictory to other Bourbon Street bars)
Dress Code: I didn't see any dress code posted.
While it remains one of the most touristy things to do in the Big Easy, one of the best nights spent in New Orleans is to go out for a good creole dinner, followed by listening to jazz at Preservation Hall, and drinks at Pat O'Brien's.
For food, you can't go wrong. Any bad restaurant would go out of business in New Orleans in a heartbeat.
You might have to wait in line for a while, but Preservation Hall is definitely worth it. The band members are old school jazz musicians who love to play and it shows. The $5 it costs to get in is the best cheap thrill you can get in NO.
Once you've had your jazz fill, go next door to Pat O'Briens for hurricanes or other drinks. A lot of the Bourbon Street bars can be loud and obnoxious. Pat O's is way more low key and has an awesome courtyard area for spending time with friends. Also has a good piano bar.
There are many jazz and blues clubs in the French Quarter, but make sure not to miss Preservation Hall; this is the authentic experience! The club is small and spartan, with no frills. Don't expect food or drinks, just pure good old jazz music. The music starts at 8pm, and you'd better show up earlier. People queue up outside on the street until there are seats available. But once you are inside, sitting on an uncomfortable bench and listen to the music, you can imagine yourself back in the golden age of the New Orleans jazz.
Back when I was a kid, in 1970, my family and I visited New Orleans. The one thing that I remember best was our visit to this club in the French Quarter. Up to that point, jazz had never appealed to me. But from that night on, I couldn't get enough of it.
The music here is traditional Dixieland jazz--the first kind that I learned to love. Later, my tastes evolved; I acquired an ear for big band, bebop, latin, and modern jazz. But Dixieland will always be special to me. This is one of the best places to hear it. Too bad they don't serve alcohol here.
Dress Code: Come as you are.
Preservation Hall is a must for jazz lovers. The venue is aptly named – this is the venue for classic American jazz – no Kenny G. modern stuff. Jazz greats have played here and are still playing here. Get there early before one of the sets so you can grab one of the few coveted seats for the audience. If not, you will still enjoy the sounds standing up. Take home a CD as a souvenir from your visit.
Dress Code: Casual
It's the most obscure and decrepit building on the street but once inside, you'll discover it has the most energy and history. Great jazz club. Go here for an authentic New Orleans experience!
Dress Code: Casual. Don't be surprised if you have to sit on the floor or stand.