Music-lovers and stars of the future should hop on a flight across the Atlantic – nowhere other than America can you find such opportunity and diversity. Rock n roll, the Blues, hip-hop and country and western, genres that have straddled the music world, their history begins here.
From New Orleans at the foot of Highway 61, where Cajun, Creole, jazz, blues and zydeco mix it up like gumbo with myriad other styles, to New York, joint-birthplace with London of the punk scene and home to CBGBs, and the Mercer Arts Centre in Greenwich Village, to Seattle, where the Grunge movement originated before rapidly taking over the world.
Considering experiencing some of America’s finest cultural exports on their home turf? Here’s why you should, and where you ought to go.
SXSW – One of the world’s best-known festivals, SXSW is held every spring in Austin, Texas. There are three strands, actually three separate festivals, celebrating music, film and interactive, which focuses on emerging technologies. The SXSW music festival is the largest of its kind, and features thousands of artists on the bill every year, from major players to up-and-coming chancers. Music industry bigwigs are to be found here in abundance – the festival played a major part in launching the careers of James Blunt and Hanson – whether you think that’s a good thing or not is open to debate.
New Orleans – Aside from the food, the beautiful architecture, and just the general easygoing vibe, the other main reason to visit the Big Easy is of course the music. Head to Bourbon Street and the French Quarter to see headline acts performing in the many bars and clubs, or just walk around and you’ll catch some incredible acts playing for coins in the street. New Orleans has some fantastic festivals every year too, obviously Carnival is the main one, but try the Ponderosa Stomp or Swamp Fest as well.
Miami – The Miami Winter Music Conference has been running now for nearly thirty years. Thousands of artists and DJs swarm the city to perform at over 500 events during a week-long celebration of electronic music. Highlights of 2013 included the premier of Daft Punk’s new track. Partying all day and night can be an expensive business but if you love electronic music then this is the place to come. Also in attendance are plenty of influential music industry folk, so if you’re looking for your big break then you should either try and play here, or get someone to play your track for you.
Nashville – The state capital of Tennessee, aptly known as Music City, is a byword for the country music sound. Still attracting hopefuls to its venues and honky-tonk bars to this day, Nashville has many sites of interest including the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry, and the CMA Music Festival held every June. Gospel and jazz also have strong roots here, but country and western is in this city’s soul.
Seattle – It’s over twenty years since Nirvana’s Nevermind came out and flung the Grunge sound onto the world stage, along with fellow Seattle acts such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. Seattle is also where legendary acts such as Quincey Jones and Jimi Hendrix started out. USA travel need not be expensive, so for grunge-lovers, this is the way to cut yourselves a slice of musical history.
Lollapalooza – Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction started this touring festival when the band split, and it’s now based in Chicago, taking place every August. Stars of alternative rock, hip-hop, punk, and comedy, are to be found here, with some of the biggest names in music performing at the three-day event.
Rob is a country music aficionado, with wall-to-wall shelves of legendary performers and a longing to meet Dolly Parton.