MAPLE LEAF BAR HISTORY
Maple Leaf Bar is a neighborhood watering hole located on the funky Oak Street corridor, way uptown, New Orleans, Louisiana, and host to live music 7 nights a week for most of its existence. You’ll find a unique mix of local legends, Grammy Award winners, musical heroes and up-and-coming talent on the stage nightly, and on occasion -all at the same time.
Opened on Feb. 24th, 1974, it is one of the longest continuing operation of New Orleans’ music clubs with live performances seven nights a week. On that first night Andrew Hall’s Society Jazz Band played and were there every Saturday for 7 years.
Many of the old time musicians were featured including numerous members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The Society Jazz Band left in the summer of 1981 but have played there several times since including the 30th birthday party in 2004.
Musical styles represented include blues, funk, R&B, rock, zydeco, jazz, jam bands and any combination thereof, and beyond, hosting both local performers and touring national acts.
Currently home to 2018 Grammy Lifetime Achievement winner George Porter Jr. and his trio every Monday night, frequent performers at the Maple Leaf have included local legends James Booker, the Rebirth Brass Band, Papa Grows Funk, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, “Money Mike” Armstrong, The Radiators, Henry Butler, and untold more.
Unannounced sit-ins are not uncommon; Bruce Springsteen once dropped in to jam with The Iguanas. Jon Cleary’s band was once joined by his frequent employer, Bonnie Raitt.
The Leaf, as it is sometimes referred, has also been an important incubator for the city’s many up-and-coming bands formed from the ranks of local musicians and music students at Tulane University, Loyola University and the University of New Orleans.
The poet Everette Maddox was a famous denizen of the Maple Leaf and as of 2006 famed psychologist Dave Corey can often be found holding forth at the bar. The Everette C. Maddox Memorial Prose & Poetry Reading, held every Sunday in the courtyard at The Maple Leaf, is the longest running poetry reading in North America.
The Krewe of OAK, a neighborhood New Orleans Mardi Gras krewe, starts and ends its parades at the Maple Leaf, where it also holds its Krewe Ball, and their infamous Midsummer Mardi Gras parade and party.
The Maple Leaf is portrayed in many books and stories by New Orleans writers. It is thinly disguised as “The Raintree Street Bar” in the Ellen Gilchrist short story “The Raintree Street Bar and Washerteria” (the bar formerly housed a small laundrymat within it).
Poems about it can be found in books and chapbooks such as Mirror Wars and Shards, by Nancy Harris; Body and Soul and Rhythm & Booze, by Julie Kane; and The Everette Maddox Song Book, Bar Scotch and American Waste by Everette Maddox. There have also been three anthologies of poets who have read their work at the Maple Leaf: The Maple Leaf Rag (1980), The Maple Leaf Rag 15th Anniversary Anthology (1994), and the Maple Leaf Rag III (2006).
Click here for more information on the history of the Maple Leaf.