Combining a love of travel and music has never been easier thanks to these musically focused cities. Many of today’s top destinations are a breeding group for superstar acts and talented musicians. A visit to these hot spots can include a number of amazing live performances along with a visit to famous venues or festivals. Music fans will love visiting any of these U.S. cities where live performances and talented acts migrate to be heard.
1. Nashville, Tennessee
With folks like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift and Dierks Bentley coming from this city, it’s no wonder it’s the country music capital of the world. The concentration of music businesses along the famed Music Row is unlike anything else in the country and offers amazing opportunities for aspiring stars. Despite the explosion of energetic country-pop acts, there’s still a great appreciation of the singer-songwriter tradition in this city, as it can be experienced at intimate venues like The Bluebird Cafe.
2. Memphis, Tennessee
Head to Memphis to see blues musicians bring this genre to life. Blues legends like B.B. King and Willie Nix hail from this Tennessee city. On Beale Street, there are amazing blues performances going on every night of the week. In addition, the city is home to the Blues Music Awards and the Blues Foundation. Don’t miss the opportunity to stop by B.B. King’s local restaurant and music venue. Be sure to check out the Memphis in May Festival for a full month of great outdoor performances, including the week-long Beale Street Music Festival which highlights popular local and national music acts.
3. New York City, New York
With training grounds like Julliard and other conservatories, NYC is a launching pad for many of the most talented musical performers of today. These musicians and singers may go on to a variety of work, including Broadway shows, opera houses, symphony orchestras, DJ gigs, rock bands and café performances. Because it’s so huge and so varied, NYC has something for every music lover, whether you want to see an avant garde jazz band in an intimate venue, a punk show at an underground club or a talented diva in a Broadway hit. Be prepared for an adventure that could take you from a classic venue like Carnegie Hall to a gritty club in Brooklyn.
4. Los Angeles, California
While LA’s show biz reputation may reign supreme here, it’s still one of the hottest places for rock music in the nation. Musicians abound here, with many forming bands once they arrive and meet other aspiring rockers. From the Hollywood Bowl to the Greek Theatre and everything in between, there are a number of iconic venues in the City of Angels. Huge rock acts have launched here, including Beck and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Record labels for rock groups are still thriving here, and a significant amount of work goes into the production of music for movies and TV as well.
5. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is a real mix when it comes to musical influences. Everything from rock to blues to house to hip-hop gets a lot of attention in this Midwestern city. Gospel music is also big in the Windy City thanks to electric performers like Mavis Staples and James Cleveland. Venues like Schuba’s Tavern, Metro, Bottom Lounge, Double Door and Reggie’s are beloved by both musicians and music fans. Chicagoans also love a good outdoor festival, which has led events like Lollapalooza and the Chicago Blues Festival to become some of the most popular music festivals in the world.
6. New Orleans, Louisiana
Jazz is the main draw in soulful New Orleans, and arguably the birthplace of this important musical genre. A number of local venues host formal performances along with more casual pick-up sessions where musicians jam together. Local artists like Wynton Marsalis, Kermit Ruffins and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews offer some of the most in-demand shows in town. And of course, it’s impossible to forget that legends like Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet launched their careers here.
7. Austin, Texas
The singer-songwriter vibe has never left Austin. The city sprouted legends like Stevie Ray Vaughn and Willie Nelson and continues to be called home by artists from a number of genres. Local artists are well-supported here, which makes it easy for smaller act to make a name for themselves. The SXSW festival held every March welcomes some of the hottest up-and-coming acts from around the country. More than 2,000 performers and bands play in over 100 venues at this event which has led to the discovery of artists like John Mayer and James Blunt.
If you’re a music lover, be sure to check out these U.S. cities. Even if the city’s preferred music genre isn’t your favorite, you might find a new appreciation for other musical styles when you check out the talented performers at each destination.