Frenchmen venue offers local music for New Orleans scene

Jake McLaughlin, Contributing Reporter

If you’re looking for high quality live music, go to d.b.a. A live music venue located at 618 Frenchmen St., d.b.a is the prime location for good music and drinks. Venue owner Tom Thayer seeks to create a space that filters out tourists and prioritizes music lovers.  

Before Thayer opened d.b.a, he established a club in the East Village of Manhattan in 1994. Inspired by his yearly visits to New Orleans for Jazz Fest, Thayer had a “fantasy” of opening a club in New Orleans. He opened d.b.a. in 2000. Despite his New York background, Thayer didn’t want to bring New York City to New Orleans. 

“The thing that ties it all together is that it’s regional bands,” Thayer said. “So it could be a brass band, a funk band, a stoner metal band, a Cajun band from Lafayette, could be some hill country blues, occasionally some traveling bands.”


Just as d.b.a. is an outlet for area bands, it attracts a crowd from New Orleans locals. d.b.a. always requires a cover charge — they are not just an “extension of the street,” as Thayer describes it. The crowd is filled with “people that really love music” and is designed to be a place that people “feel comfortable in.” 

“I was the first club in New Orleans to go nonsmoking. People were like, ‘Oh no, you’re gonna lose people.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, but I’m gonna gain people,’” Thayer said. “It’s been 10 years. The whole city is now non-smoking.”

d.b.a.’s goal for the future is to keep doing what they are doing and to stay open, which has proven to be challenging as a result of COVID-19 and Hurricane Ida.

“I’ve been doing this for many years and the challenges over the last 18 months are like nobody in this industry has ever seen before,” Thayer said. “I literally went a year without having anybody in my venue.” Staying resilient, Thayer has managed to keep his venue alive.

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