Snug Harbor started in 1964 as a place for live jazz music. It is located at 626 Frenchman Street, an area surrounded by many famous jazz venues. Snug Harbor has been known and valued for its special atmosphere and exceptional live music. Snug Harbor has live music every night of the week and includes two artists a night. Some of the regular artists who perform weekly are Chairmaine Neville, Treme Brass Band, Amasa Miller, Ellis Marsalis, and La Verne Butler. The club also includes a restaurant in the back, which serves New Orleans style food like BBQ shrimp and crawfish etouffee (“Snug Harbor.” Washington Post. 4 April 1978).
Snug Harbor’s unique sign welcomes visitors. Photo by Wally Gobetz.
On the interior, the club is made of high wood beam ceilings, about seven feet above the brick floors in the bar. The area is described as being “snug,” hence the name, and having a community feeling to it. The tables are placed closely together to each other. Inside, there is minimal decoration, but the dark lit jazz club has some nautical theme inspired décor. There is a bar in the back of the club, and the stage is in the center, surrounded by tables where people can sit and enjoy the music. A wooden balcony surrounds the club on the second floor with more seating, and the stage can be seen from all angles. The inside has been described as “feeling like a place of jazz, as if the music is home there” (Harmeyer, Thomas. Times Picayune. 7 March 1989).
Today, the club is described as having contemporary jazz every night. Frank Colbert claimed the jazz club to be “true harbor- snug keeps jazz alive in the city where it was made famous” (Smith, Frank. The Times Picayune. 14 January 1990). Unlike many other music venues, where shows usually start around 11pm, Snug Harbor has the reputation of catering to “jazz-hungry professionals who want to hear good music but have to get to work in the morning” (Kinzer, Stephen. “ Keeping the Beat In New Orleans.” The New York Times, 14 January 2001, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/14/travel/keeping-the-beat-in-new-orleans.html?pagewanted=3&src=pm (accessed October 30, 2012)). With the daily shows starting at 9pm, after a nice dinner prior, Snug Harbor attracts a classy crowd that contrasts greatly from the nearby Bourbon Street customers.
A poster for Jasmine’s performance at Snug Harbor. Photo provided by the Hogan Jazz Archives.
Since its start, Snug Harbor has brought in some of the top names in the jazz industry, in addition to a variety of artists. Jasmine, The Uptown Jazz Orchestra, Lady B.J., Walter “Wolfman” Washington, and many other artists make this the “unchallenged jazz club anchor on Frenchmen, [that] has been bringing in fans longer than any” (Bruce, Taylor. “Meet the Musicians of Frenchmen Street.” Southern Living Magazine, 11 February. 2011. http://www.southernliving.com/travel/south-central/new-orleans-jazz-blues-00417000070863/ (Accessed October 30, 2012)).
Another add for Snug Harbor, boasting both Lady B.J. and Walter “Wolfman” Washington. Photo provided by the Hogan Jazz Archives.
This is made possible by establishing the values of the club on the importance of making it a “musicians-come-first” type of establishment, where playing at Snug Harbor is an exciting event, for the musicians and the audience alike (Kinzer). Further, this was one of the few jazz clubs in the city that opened only a few months after Hurricane Katrina, and for some “to see Snug Harbor open, we knew the city would survive (Bruce).