Maple Leaf Bar, origins

The Maple Leaf Bar, one of the city's longest operating music clubs, is a haven for local music and has been drawing crowds from New Orleans and throughout the world since the venue opened in 1974 as a place to hear jazz music and play chess.

These artifacts, images, and other materials from the Louisiana State Museum Music Collection illustrate the Maple Leaf Bar's early history.

Images

"The Maple Leaf Rag"

"The Maple Leaf Rag"

When the Maple Leaf Bar opened its doors on February 24, 1974, it was originally called The Maple Leaf Rag Time Bar and Chess Club, named after Scott Joplin's ragtime song. Originally published in 1899, this Melrose Music Corporation printing dates to 1939, . Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum. Accession no. 1978.118 (F) 248. View File Details Page

Flyer, The Maple Leaf

Flyer, The Maple Leaf

The founders, Bill Odoms and Tom Bethel, wanted to open a quiet, intellectual place where patrons could occasionally hear jazz. 1986 flyer depicts directions to the Maple Leaf Bar, illustrations, and descriptions of the bar. Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum, Music Collection Vertical Files. View File Details Page

Original sign, circa mid- to late 1970s

Original sign, circa mid- to late 1970s

Early on, the Maple Leaf started a poetry reading series every Sunday to fulfill the bar's intellectual mission. However, the ideas of a quiet place and occasional jazz did not last, as the bar soon featured music every night of the week. Artwork by "Prof Rosax" Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum. Accession no. 2007.096. View File Details Page

Andrew Hall's Society Jazz Band

Andrew Hall's Society Jazz Band

Andrew Hall's Society Jazz Band played the opening night of the Maple Leaf Bar, February 24, 1974. Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum. Accession no. 2007.034.003. View File Details Page

Bass drum

Bass drum

Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum. Accession no. 2007.034.001. View File Details Page

Andrew Hall's Society Jazz Band, circa 1970s

Andrew Hall's Society Jazz Band, circa 1970s

Andrew Hall's Society Jazz Band continued to play at the Maple Leaf Bar every Saturday night for the next seven years. This tradition launched the bar's successful formula of having a feature local act play the same night every week. Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum. Accession no. T0008.1993.758. View File Details Page

LP cover, "Junco Partner" by James Booker

LP cover, "Junco Partner" by James Booker

James Booker also played at the Maple Leaf Bar weekly, in the bar's early years. Booker was scheduled to play at the bar every Monday evening from 1978 until his death in 1983. Album released in 1976 on Island Records. Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum Music Collection. View File Details Page

Advertisement for the Maple Leaf Bar<br /><br />

Advertisement for the Maple Leaf Bar

The Figaro, March 10, 1976. Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum, Music Collection Vertical Files. View File Details Page

The Gambit Weekly,  May 1982, Advertisement

The Gambit Weekly, May 1982, Advertisement

The Maple Leaf Bar has featured local jazz, blues, reggae, rock and roll, Cajun, and zydeco musicians every night of the week, as well as poetry readings on Sundays. Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum, Music Collection Vertical Files. View File Details Page

Calender of Events flyer, August 1986<br /><br />
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Calender of Events flyer, August 1986


New Orleans residents have long been able to count on the bar for live music every night of the week. Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum, Music Collection Vertical Files. View File Details Page

"Maple Leaf turns a jazzy 20"

"Maple Leaf turns a jazzy 20"

Now open for over 37 years, the Maple Leaf Bar continues to be a nightly destination for local music fans. Andrew Hall's Society Jazz Band, the first band to perform at the bar, played at the Maple Leaf Bar's major anniversaries, including the bar's 15th, 20th and 30th anniversary shows. The Times Picayune, January 28, 1994. Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum- Music Collection Vertical Files. View File Details Page

"Maple Leaf chalks up 15 years of hometown music"

"Maple Leaf chalks up 15 years of hometown music"

Over the years, the bar has held performances for an endless number of local and national acts, including Bruce Springsteen. The Maple Leaf Bar continues its tradition of weekly acts, now hosting Rebirth Brass Band, one of the city's most popular music acts, every Tuesday night. The Times Picayune, February 24, 1989. Courtesy of Louisiana State Museum, Music Collection Vertical Files. View File Details Page

Video

Hank Staples on the opening of the Maple Leaf Bar

Hank Staples, co-owner of the Maple Leaf Bar, talks about the rapid evolution of live music at the Maple Leaf.

Video Courtesy of Dr. Michael Mizell-Nelson. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Polly Rolman and Kyle Willshire, “Maple Leaf Bar, origins,” New Orleans Historical, accessed March 23, 2017, http://neworleanshistorical.org/items/show/388.
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