If you visit New Orleans, chances are you’ll go out and hear some awesome music. Maybe you’ll hit Frenchmen Street and stop in at the Spotted Cat to hear Panorama Jazz Band on a Saturday evening; or maybe The Three Muses, where you can get some terrific food while hearing the latest neo-traditional jazz band. Or if you’re Uptown, you might go to The Maple Leaf on Oak Street on a Tuesday night and catch the Rebirth Brass Band; or maybe you’re in the Bywater neighborhood and you’ll make it Vaughan’s on Thursday night (again, food is involved as long as Kermit Ruffins has his barbecue truck).
After hearing all that great music, you’ll probably think about taking some of it home with you. That’s when Louisiana Music Factory comes in. It’s at 210 Decatur in the French Quarter, across the street from House of Blues. It’s got the best collection of Louisiana recorded music you’ll find in town, and probably in the world. Owned and operated by Barry Smith and Jerry Brock, it’s been around since 1992 and in its present location since 1996. Barry just happens to live across the street from Southern Comfort Bed and Breakfast
During Hurricane Katrina, the employees stayed in the store on the second floor and protected the merchandise. It didn’t suffer too much damage and was one of the first stores to reopen after Katrina, and it’s still going strong today. Louisiana Music Factory has won the “Best of the Beat Award” sponsored by Offbeat Magazine – Readers’ Choice: Best Record Store, from 1996 through 2009. The employees are friendly, knowledgeable, and would love to help you find the perfect musical souvenir to take home with you. They’ll be happy to ship any of your purchases home for you too; or you can always order online when you get home.
But the best thing to do is to go there on Saturday afternoon, when the store hosts local live music performances. During Jazz Festival, it also holds in-store concerts all day long, for six days. The employees call it “Factory Fest,” and it’s got a following for sure. You never know who might show up, and in what musical configuration. It’s quite the local scene, with New Orleans musicians, music fans, and music journalists hanging out in front of the small store in between sets.
It’s absolutely free, and you can even get a coupon for $2 draft beer down the street at Attiki Bar and Grill . The food is good there too if you decide to stay in the neighborhood! During the Christmas holidays, you might catch Ellis Marsalis playing the funky piano that Louisiana Music Factory has on its tiny stage in the store. Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, the virtuoso blues guitarist and fiddle player from Texas and Louisiana who lived in nearby Slidell, played there to a reverent crowd. Up and coming young zydeco musicians, Cajun fiddlers, brass band players, singer-songwriters, pianists, gospel groups, crooners—they’ve all been there, and they keep coming back to play for appreciative audiences. You can see all the photographs, from 2004 on, on the Music Factory’s website. It’s always an experience; an impromptu, casual, fun way to experience live music in New Orleans. You’ll feel like a local!