A city’s music scene is an essential part of its culture and helps to define its overall identity. So where to go to find echoes of your heroes? In truth, each American state has some sort of musical tale to tell. But you could certainly start your search in one of these 7 cities…
7 Cities in the USA that will add a musical experience to your Vacation
Let’s dig in.
1 Seattle, Washington
Seattle is on everyone’s list for best live music; the place credited with the creation of its own music genre; a musical journey destination. Seattle is a music lover’s haven, spawned back in the early 1990s. Sub Pop is famous as a promoter of the grunge movement, producing early albums of grunge bands like Nirvana, Mud Honey, and Soundgarden.
Sea-Tac Airport hosts a stand-alone Sub Pop Records store – in fact, the famous record label with the same name credited with launching the movement is still based in Seattle and continues to give birth to great indie rock artists like The Postal Service and The Shins. London Bridge Studio also has its share of famous artists, including Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, 3 Doors Down, and OneRepublic. They also offer historic tours of the studio when it is not in use. Hip hop artist Macklemore is another one of its more recent music innovations. During your stay in Seattle, get a glimpse of the live music scene at great venues like The Showbox, Café Racer and, Columbia City Theater.
2 San Francisco, California
The City by the Bay was the heart of the 1960s counterculture movement, with names like Janis Joplin, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead playing at famed venues like The Fillmore, which still hosts great musicians today. Some of the most famous San Francisco concerts have included the Beatles’ final live show ever at Candlestick Park and Led Zeppelin at Kezar Stadium. Just a few of the legendary acts to come out of the S.F. Bay Area have included Journey, Credence Clearwater Revival, Metallica and Green Day. Today, there is practically an endless number of places across the region to catch great bands.
Amoeba Music in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is not only a great record store, but it’s an amazing spot to see a live show.
3 Nashville, Tennessee
The Tennessee state capital is one vast shrine to all things country music. Performers as diverse as Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, and Taylor Swift have all worked at their oeuvre in a city so obsessed with the genre that it has the Country Music Hall of Fame – an enormous museum of more than 2.5million artifacts (countrymusichalloffame.org)
Nashville is also the home of the Grand Ole Opry (opry.com), a weekly country stage show which has been broadcast since 1925. These days, this extravaganza largely takes place at the Grand Ole Opry House, a 4,000-seat arena. But it still pops up at the wonderful Ryman Auditorium, a theatre of exquisite acoustics that acted as Opry base from 1943 to 1974. You can also catch an intimate live show at the Bluebird Cafe, which features up-and-coming as well as experienced songwriters. But Music Row isn’t the only draw here, as the city also has a thriving rock scene that can be found at a number of venues, including The Basement, located just below Grimey’s New & Preloved Music store. This intimate venue has hosted everything from acoustic to metal shows, and even some “secret” shows like Metallica.
4 Washington, D.C.
America’s capital may have a stuffy reputation, but it’s actually had a thriving underground music scene for years now, including hardcore bands like Fugazi and Bad Brains as well as the Godfather of Go-go, Chuck Brown, who was from D.C. Of course, this is also the place to go for those who enjoy visiting museums, with almost more than one could see in a lifetime, including the National Museum of
American History, which features old cassettes and a plethora of other pop culture items in its collection. You’ll find lots of places to see live music too, such as the 9:30 Club, which has hosted everyone from Rob Zombie to Arcade Fire. John Coltrane and Miles Davis are among the many top musicians who’ve played the legendary Bohemian Caverns.
5 Boston, Massachusetts
With its rich musical history and fertile breeding ground for new music, Boston’s music scene is one of the most lively in the world… Just a few of the great recording artists birthed here include Pixies, Aerosmith, The Cars, Boston, and James Taylor. It tends to cater to the college crowd, and whether you’re a student of music or a student who just loves music, the cutting edge scene offers the chance to rock to great local bands or the best of pop culture. In the summer, you can catch an outdoor concert or festival along the Charles River at the Hatch Shell. Classical music is still an important part of the city’s cultural heritage, driven by its colleges of music and conservatories such as the Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra is known as one of the most versatile ensembles across the globe, embracing both traditional and contemporary scores. No matter what your style, you’re sure to find an energizing experience in Boston’s live music scene.
6 Detroit, Michigan
The contribution of Michigan’s largest city to the American musical tapestry should never be underestimated. Acts as diverse as Eminem, the White Stripes and Iggy Pop all found their feet in this Midwest metropolis, while Madonna grew up in the suburb of Rochester Hills.
Detroit is the birthplace of Motown Music and the home of the Motown Museum where you can listen to the sounds of Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, the Supremes and more. Here, you can see artifacts and even stand in the studio where those artists laid down tracks. Of course, Kiss dubbed the town as “Detroit Rock City.” Fans of hip hop, soul and the blues certainly won’t be disappointed by the current music scene in Detroit either.
7 Austin, Texas
Austin calls itself the “Live Music Capital of the World” for good reason. Some cities have more history, others have bigger stars, but none have better fans. The secret is passion. There are over 250 live music venues in Austin, more per capita than anywhere else in the country and, despite the old joke about Texans liking both types of music (country and western), you can find any style you want, seven days a week.
The Texas capital established itself nationally years ago with the television show “Austin City Limits,” followed by the ultra-hip annual festival South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Some of its must-experience venues include the Broken Spoke, the Continental Club and Antone’s.