With the election this week, it's particularly poignant to reflect on the incredible musical innovations that were created in America as a result of our unique multicultural heritage. To perform or appreciate live music involves focused listening and moving together through a shared rhythm. I hope we can all find our groove again as a nation too.
Americans have contributed so much to the history of music! Country music is primarily a fusion of African American blues and spirituals with Appalachian folk music. Louisiana's melting pot culture gave way to diverse musical styles and genres including jazz, zydeco, and funk. In the heart of the Mississippi Delta, the blues, and in turn, rock and roll were born from slave spirituals and work songs. Hip hop originally developed from the Bronx's 1970s youth block party culture. While its roots can be found in German electronic music, techno was officially "invented" in Detroit.
As a member of the League of American Orchestras, of course I'm going to remind you there are phenomenal classical and opera companies and venues throughout the country. This article is focused on jazz, rock, blues, and other "popular" music. Nine Muses Travel can arrange unforgettable experiences led by expert local musicologists, musicians, performers, and historians; arrange musician meet and greets and jam sessions; and go behind the scenes at iconic music venues.
Here's my top list of American music destinations that will turn your vacation all the way up to eleven!
New York City
New York is undeniably an epicenter for music; a mecca for hip hop, bebop, punk, new wave, and salsa; and one of the top places in the world for jazz, rock, R&B, funk, classical music, and opera. Venues may be closed until late spring or early summer 2021, but creative people find creative outlets! There have been lots of spontaneous live performances on the street and even on rooftops like at St. Ann's Warehouse in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Broadway is closed until May 2021, but we're still a city filled with artists; so you never know who you'll find performing in public these days! Stay at The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel, Equinox Hotel, New York City, The Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel, and The Dominick.
DJ scratch class to learn basics of spinning
Harlem walking tour with musical guides and gospel performance
NYC hip hop history tour to Brooklyn or Bronx
Madison Square Garden all access VIP tour
Broadway behind the scenes with meet and greets backstage
Carnegie Hall / Radio City Music Hall VIP experiences
The Chicago Style of Jazz has a sound all its own, combining the legacy of the Deep South with elements of rock and roll. Chicago is home to great musical traditions and is the birthplace of house music too. Stay at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, The Peninsula Chicago, and The Langham, Chicago.
Chicago blues and jazz evolution walking tour
Meet and great with jazz musician learning about 20th African American history in the city and how it contributed to the current musical scene
Chicago jazz and blues clubs evening live music tour with music expert guide
The Sunset Strip is historic for its contributions to rock music in the 1960s when bands like Doors, The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield grew to prominence here. It experienced a renaissance in the 1990s with musicians like Sublime, Beck, and Weezer. Long Beach and Compton are where Snoop Dogg and Tupac were at the start of of the West Coast hip hop and rap scene. The last 20 years brought noise rock and famous DJ culture. Stay at The Beverly Hills Hotel, Sunset Tower Hotel and Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.
Learn how to record a track at a music studio and take home your demo
Meet and greet with your favorite star
VIP concert experience before or after a show
Sunset Strip nightlife tour
Memphis & Nashville
Memphis is home of the blues and birthplace of rock and roll from W.C. Handy, Sleepy John Estes, and Memphis Jug Band in the 1910s-1930s to the legends of the 1940s: B.B. King, Junior Parker, Willie Nix, and Joe Hill Lewis. Duke Records started in Memphis, and Elvis Presley has a huge legacy here with Graceland where he lived, died in 1977, and was buried. In Nashville, a.k.a. Music City USA, you'll find the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame, and world famous Ryman Auditorium, which was built in 1892 and was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943-74. Music Row is THE place for live music venues that draws well-known and emerging musicians to perform onstage all the time. Stay at The Hermitage Hotel Nashville, Thompson Nashville, The Peabody Memphis, and The Guest House at Graceland.
The Blues Trail with a music historian - a great musical road trip!
The Johnny Cash experience at the Country Music Hall of Fame with relatives of Johnny Cash!
Private music recording studio experience
Graceland VIP tour
Grand Ole Opry VIP tour
Downtown Nashville live music tour
New Orleans is part of an epic Blues Trail road trip itinerary through America and is a really rich, cosmopolitan city with a long history of embracing multiculturalism which brought a lot of amazing musical traditions. Some of the earliest African influence on American music starts in New Orleans. Besides its strong affiliation with jazz and jazz history, many funk and rock bands emerged from New Orleans. Stay at Windsor Court Hotel, Hotel Monteleone, and The Roosevelt New Orleans, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Local musician meet and greet at a live venue before or after a performance
New Orleans live musicology & live music experience with local guide
Jazz history in the French Quarter walking tour
Roll on a Krewe parade float during Mardi Gras
Dinner reception with live entertainment at a Mardi Gras mansion
Streetcar cocktail crawl with live music emphasis
Austin has become synonymous with live music and rock, and it's official motto is the Live Music Capital of the World thanks to the South by Southwest and Austin City Limits music festivals, which hopefully will be back in 2021. Austin's music reputation began as an offshoot of the country music scene moving west from Nashville and by incorporating rock and blues from the Midwest. Stay at Fairmont Austin and Four Seasons Hotel Austin.
Live music nightlife experience
Austin music history tour and private studio performance at Moody Theater
Private recording session experience
Honky Tonk two step dance class
Other unique U.S. music destinations:
Asheville, North Carolina
Sights, Sounds, and Tastes of the Deep South (10 days, 9 nights): Road trip through Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, Natchez, New Orleans
Nine Muses Travel works with exceptional tour operators who add unparalleled value for my clients.
Expert guides for private tours: historians, naturalists, artists, unique locals
Comfortable, sanitized, and luxurious vehicles
24/7 real-time support
Competitive rates at four and five star properties with strict health and safety protocols
Deep destination knowledge
Flexible and worry-free cancellation policies, including 100% refunds until shortly before travel
You deserve journeys designed to inspire! I help highlight local arts and culture, history, and cuisine for intellectually curious clients longing to feel deeply inspired by exciting destinations, culinary delights, and authentic cultural experiences on a life-changing, joyful journey of discovery.
President of Nine Muses Travel