The gray, bombed-out building that looks as if it were erected just shortly after the dawn of time (or at least the dawn of New Orleans) doesn't seem like much, but it's a mecca for traditional-jazz fans. This is an essential spot for anyone coming to New Orleans. No amplification, no air-conditioning -- it doesn't get any more authentic than this. It's not quite as dirt-cheap as it used to be, but it still is one of your must-do stops on your trip. After all, this place is so awesome, U2's Edge sat in for a set when in town working on his New Orleans music charity.
With no seats, terrible sightlines, and constant crowds, you won't be able to see much, but you won't care because you will be having too fun and cheerfully sweaty a time. Even if you don't consider yourself interested in jazz, there is a seriously good time to be had here, and you very probably will come away with a new appreciation for the music. Patrons start lining up at 6:15pm -- the doors open at 8pm, so the trick to avoid the line is to get here either just as the doors open or later in the evening. The band plays until midnight, and the first audience usually empties out around 10pm.
A sign on the wall gives prices for requests -- figure on $10 for "Saints Go Marchin' In," $5 for everything else. (One night some big spenders tossed seven $100 bills for seven rounds of "Saints.") Or just offer something. Thanks to the casual atmosphere, not to mention the cheap cover, Preservation Hall is one of the few nightspots where it's appropriate to take kids. Early in the evening you'll notice a number of local families doing just that. Call ahead for current open hours.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Live Music Venue 2007
- Very Highly Recommended 2009
- Very Highly Recommended 2010