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The Beat Is On

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New Orleans is alive with the sound of music

The heart of New Orleans beats to the sound of music. Music shapes our calendar and envelops us like the smell of night jasmine. Over time, the unique music of New Orleans becomes the soundtrack of our lives. At least that’s the way it is in my life and the life of my many nocturnal friends. As a veteran of the New Orleans entertainment scene, I have become a skillful nighttime denizen.

The great thing is that I can go out and see live music almost every night, whether its dancing in a ballroom at a fabulous charity event, savoring an intimate cabaret performance at a plush hotel, jamming to the hot band of the moment at a cool live-music venue, or losing myself to the aural beats of a late-night DJ in the underground scene. The journey of the night is what I live and work for. My friends and I see everything from local stalwarts to emerging bands, from cover bands to DJ’s; even stiletto-wearing, lip-synching female impersonators are not off-limits and can be fun on occasion.

On any given night we may begin the evening by attending an awesome charitable event, like the recent American Heart Association gala where The Nobles had guests swirling around the dance floor. Our beloved local party bands are typically one of the most entertaining parts of these events, like Harvey Jesus and Fire, who recently had the Moulin Rouge–attired guests partying at the Ballet Association’s gala held at Republic.

Or we may ease into the night by visiting one of the posh hotel lounges where your options vary from the sultry sounds of Anais St. John at the Windsor Court’s Polo Club on Saturday nights to the swinging jazz of Jeremy Davenport and the bluesy beats of Marva Wright in the French Quarter Bar, a swanky outpost inside the Ritz-Carlton.

The Royal Sonesta’s Mystik Den is where the Ladies of Jazz (Julia Lashea, Betty Shirley and Anais St. John) infuse Bourbon Street with sensual jazz. Supremely talented, each of these ladies holds down a weekend night where they set their own mood. The 528 Club at Harrah’s Hotel also presents great local entertainment nightly, and John Boutte’s set is not to be missed. Preservation Hall, the French Quarter institution, is also a nice way to begin an evening.

Elevating the groove means dropping into one of New Orleans’ cool live music spots. One of my favorites is One Eyed Jacks, where I recently became a big fan of TV on the Radio, a Brooklyn-based pulsating art-rock band. One Eyed Jacks delivers one of the most eclectic music schedules in the city, not too mention that they have a pretty cool staff.

House of Blues remains one of the best rooms in the city to see national artists or developing talents. Reggae superstar Toots & the Maytals recently had folks dancing in the rafters. No House of Blues experience is ever complete without visiting lounge manager Dwight Payne in the Foundation Room, the ultra-posh private club, where he reigns supreme and makes everyone feel like a rock star.

Republic New Orleans is another great alternative for progressive live music. The rustic yet hip Warehouse District club is perfect for indie darlings like Bright Eyes who recently performed a sold-out show. Robert Leblanc and his team have pulled together a special multifunctional room that appeals to a diverse local clientele and thrill-seeking visitors alike.

And, if classic crooner tunes are more your style, then head out to the Max, a distinctively local watering hole in Metairie where the Yat Pack, lead by vocalists David Cook and Tim Shirah, brings back the “swing era” with an added Vegas flair every Sunday night at 9pm. The affable duo has an extensive repertoire, singing songs from Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin to Michael Bublé and Harry Connick Jr.

The most awesome aspect of our local music scene is that no matter what type of sound your soul craves, you’re sure to find it.