New Year’s Eve is one of those holidays that can either be unforgettable or unbearable. From catching elusive cabs to paying exorbitant prices at your regular watering hole, it’s tempting to just stay in and watch New Year’s Rockin Eve (even though Ryan Seacrest will never truly replace Dick Clark) rather than fight the crowds. But there is still one guaranteed great way to ring in the new year: live music.
It doesn’t get much better than dancing with hundreds of strangers as you collectively celebrate another great year of life and embrace the promise of a positive year to come. And even if it might cost you a little more than usual, the unique nature of a live show makes the memories worth it.
Like most nights in New Orleans, there are plenty of options for live music. Here are our top picks for live, local music to get you into the new year dancing on the right foot:
Dumpstaphunk, The New Mastersounds, Jon Cleary @ The Joy Theatre- $60-125
Wrapping up a great year that featured killer Jazz Fest shows and the acclaimed This Is NOLA series, The Joy Theatre hosts one of the biggest New Year’s parties in town with Dumpstapunk and The New Mastersounds. Each band will play extended sets, with Dumpsta laying down some of the dirtiest grooves in the city and The Mastersounds showing how the British do funk. Jon Cleary will kick things off with a solo set of his authentic New Orleans piano R&B. For those looking to spend a little more, VIP options get you open bar and access to the Joy’s awesome upper balcony.
After a year of electrifying shows that added yet another element to their shape-shifting sound, Galactic has parted ways with singer Maggie Koerner. The band has hinted that a big-name singer will be joining them in 2015 for their spring tour, but in the interim they’ll enlist frequent collaborator Cyril Neville and rising local soul singer Erica Falls to handle vocal duties for their annual New Year’s gig at Tipitina’s. West Coast soul band The California Honeydrops will kick off the evening with some classic grooves and local DJ Quickie Mart will spin between the bands’ sets to keep the bodies in constant motion.
There’s no better way to start a new year than by dancing your way into it, but sometimes those downtown crowds can become too much of a hassle. Thankfully you can head uptown to the Maple Leaf and hear some music that stands as some of the best in the city. Big Sam’s funky blowout features an all star band that will play deep into the night with surprise guests from the local trombonist’s extended network. The Colin Lake Band, whose country-swamp rock reached new heights this year, will also be on hand to kick off the party. Throw in the usual Leaf hospitality (including a “guaranteed kiss at midnight”) and you have all the ingredients for a great 2015.
Sometimes it’s hard to satisfy the diverse tastes of a large group of partiers – some want to dance, some want to drink, some want to kick back. Thankfully Blue Nile has a little bit of everything, including one of the city’s finest brass bands, Mardi Gras Indians, an acclaimed young blues singer, and a DJ spinning late-night. And even if all that variety doesn’t appeal to everyone, the upstairs balcony overlooking Frenchmen Street should be an ideal spot to take in the fireworks at midnight. Who can argue with that?
For a slightly classier Frenchmen Street experience, the wood-paneled glory of d.b.a. has you covered with their extensive selection of craft beers and whiskeys. Walter “Wolfman” Washington plays a weekly gig at d.b.a., so he should be right at home when he takes the stage with his Roadmasters to ring in the new year. Opening the show will be Washboard Chaz, Alex McMurray, and Matt Perrine, playing under The Tin Men moniker and effortlessly pulling off everything from Zeppelin covers to New Orleans classics.