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Place and identity are interrelated concepts. Where one is influences who one is. Few states speak to that relationship the way Louisiana does. A state off the Gulf Coast in the southeastern part of the United States, Louisiana’s culture is in conversation with its positioning. A port where French, African, Spanish, German, Irish, Canadian, Native American and American cultures combined throughout history, Louisiana’s sound was forged. Read more to discover what Louisiana's music culture means for listeners today.

Louisiana has one of the world’s most interesting music histories.

Since its founding in 1718, Louisiana’s music industry has been a marvel. Often, new things are created when old things collide. This principle applies to music. Louisiana has a complicated history in which people, goods, services, and ideas were passed along from a number of cultures. Battles from the War of 1812, slave trade occurred in the 1800s, and general trade made this water-access state a natural spot for contact and exchange. The human tragedies related to its colonial past left people with stories to tell. In this multicultural hotbed, new sounds were created regularly, because music was a way to express, reflect, and redefine one’s unique ethnic and cultural identity.

Over time, countless artists have devoted songs to the very conflicted music history of the state. From songs of enlivened excess to songs of morose tragedy to songs of fierce resilience, the state has it all. Patti LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” Louis Armstrong’s “St. James Infirmary,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Born on the Bayou,” Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Apache Rose Peacock,” Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” Foo Fighters’ “In the Clear,” The Animals’ “House of the Rising Son,” Waylon Jennings’ “Louisiana Women,” Cher’s “Dark Lady,” and many other songs pay tribute to this place. Concert attendees today can expect live music worthy of such tributes. Expressing a range of emotions in a range of styles, Louisiana makes for a unique concert experience.

Louisiana is known for being a place of genre unification, which makes concerts manifold shows of unexpected invention for listeners.

In the start of the 20th century, Dixieland—also known as traditional jazz—came from African Americans living in New Orleans. Rural blues, ragtime, and marching bands brought about the backbone of jazz, making the popularized contemporary jazz heard today possible. Part of the Mississippi Delta river system, Louisiana also contributed to the creation of the blues. A spin off the phrase “blues devils,” which described a melancholic and sad feeling, the blues are characterized by music techniques that generate emotion. The roots extend to 19th century plantations, but it really took off post-slavery in juke joints. In the 1940s, Louisiana also influenced R&B. Jazz, blues, and African American mainstream music of World War II made this hybrid genre. Zydeco is another genre that would not have been without Louisiana. It was created by the black Creole community in Louisiana, during weekend social gatherings of dancing, singing, and accordion playing. Hardships of being multi-ethnic are embedded in song. Bounce is a genre characterized by quick tempo, heavy brass, and call-and-response chants, which sprung up in the 80s and became a vital part of Louisiana hip-hop history.

People interested in live music should look to the genres invented my Louisianans to pick up new sounds. Contemporary artists such as Big Freedia, Sissy Nobby, Vockah Redu, Harry Connick Jr., and Lil Wayne carved their sounds out of their home state’s traditions. For those who want to keep an eye on the newest and most diverse sounds, check out the sounds of Louisiana.

In Louisiana, music venues are everywhere.

Louisiana is place where music is ubiquitous. Coming from shops, bars, corners, homes, and streets, count on someone somewhere playing something. The lines between audience and performers are blurred in street parades, honky-tonks, and juke joints, building an energy that cannot be found elsewhere. This happens year-round, not just during Mardi Gras. Whether visitors to the state or locals, listeners should let the music find them. Explore the state by chasing its sounds around cities such as New Orleans, Lake Providence, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Alexandria.

For those who would rather pick from a selection of venues, Louisiana’s travel agency recommends Buck and Johnny’s (Breaux Bridge), Fred’s Lounge (Mamou), Teddy’s Juke Joint (Zachary), Tipitina’s (New Orleans), Preservation Jazz Hall (New Orleans), Ruby’s Roadhouse (Mandeville), Jolly Inn (Houma), Enoch’s Irish Pub (Monroe), Dew Drop Jazz & Social Hall (Mandeville), Varsity Theatre (Baton Rouge), Maple Lead Bar (New Orleans), or The Bar Chord (Shreveport). Concert-seekers cannot go wrong in this state.