If you’re a music fan, when you think about your favourite city, one of the first thing that springs to mind is popular bands that originated from there or its music venues. It’s amazing how a city’s culture can be so strongly influenced by its music scene. However, it’s difficult to decide which U.S cities to visit in order to experience the best live music out there. Fortunately for you, we’ve compiled a list of ten of the best cities in the country to find great live music.
New York City
Inspiring one of Frank Sinatra’s most famous classics, music owes a lot to the Big Apple. From the world famous Madison Square Garden attracting some of the biggest pop stars in the industry, to Irish folk groups playing dingy dive bars and Jazz bands playing blues until the small hours of the night, there’s something here for everyone.
New Orleans, Louisiana
If you love jazz, then there’s really no city on earth that can quite top New Orleans. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival includes a whole host of different Jazz bands to draw impressive crowds of fans young and old to the city. It’s also home to The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which tours around the whole country and has even played Coachella. There’s also an unbelievable number of bars where you can find some incredible talents that are just starting out.
Black Keys, White Stripes and The Kings of Leon; three of the most successful bands on the planet have put Nashville well and truly on the map. The blues-y guitar riffs are integral to the city’s culture, inspired by artists like the legendary Johnny Cash. There’s plenty of venues if you’re looking to see some talented independent acts, but you’ll also find well known artists playing at the Ryman Auditorium. What’s more, the airport itself hosts live acts to play, so you can get a taste of the city’s music scene as soon as you arrive! Music is truly Nashville’s lifeblood.
Los Angeles, California
It’s impossible to take a trip to L.A and not see live music, whether you purposely buy tickets to see a world famous artist, see an up and coming act in a bar or a busker making a name for themselves on the street. Raising acts such as the legendary Tupac, Guns ‘N’ Roses and Kendrick Lamar, fans of any genre will feel at home in this town. You can even find The Los Angeles Philharmonic playing at the Walt Disney Concert Hall if you’re looking for truly epic sound.
If you’re passionate about hip-hop then you owe it to yourself to take a trip to Atlanta. At the Fox Theatre, you can find huge names playing to smaller crowds, which makes for an incredibly intimate event. You can also find the A3C Festival here, attended by some of the largest names in hip-hop alongside new talent just breaking onto the scene. With acts like OutKast and T.I originating from here, the cities musical culture has inspired many hip-hop artists to showcase their talent on the global stage. It’s certainly worth checking out for yourself.
Many know Memphis as the home of The King, Elvis Presley, but other famous musicians such as Justin Timberlake and Aretha Franklin were also born and raised in this beautiful city. Memphis is steeped in a culture in which music plays an integral role. Many tourists looking for their fix of live music flood Beale Street in droves, where you’ll find the world famous BB King’s Blues Club. Memphis also has its fair share of larger venues to see your favourite bands and pop stars, like Bartlett Performing Arts Centre and the FedEx Forum. Looking for something more intimate? There are many smaller venues to get away from the tourist hot spots.
This world class city is not just famous for its deep-dish pizza. Many would argue that if you’re a true Blues fan, then there’s no destination on earth to find a more authentic Blues experience than Chicago. With so many Blues bars, you’ll easily be able to find a great live band playing every night of the week in this city. The Green Mile is one of the more popular venues to get your fix. Beyond the blues, the Lollapalooza festival attracts visitors and musicians from all over the world to experience an intense three days packed with the very best rappers and rock/metal bands.
If you love nothing more than relaxing in the summer sun listening to your favourite live acts, then Austin, Texas has to be near the top of the list of places you need to visit. With more festivals than anywhere else in the country, you can find an event to suit any genre. The aptly named Fun Fun Fun Fest and SxSW draw impressive crowds to Texas’ capital. Of course, there’s still an unbelievable amount of bars hosting live acts for you to tuck into whilst enjoying some delicious Southern BBQ ribs. Austin really does have something for every music fanatic.
Branson isn’t somewhere that immediately springs to mind when you think of cities to find great live music. It’s known more for its glitzy theaters and huge productions rather than high quality local talent. The venues can be a bit over the top; some are even themed, like the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre that has a strong Gatsby vibe with chandeliers and grand staircases. However, there are over 50 venues along its streets to choose from, so you’re bound to always be able to find decent live music whenever you go.
Las Vegas, Nevada
If you love Pop, then Las Vegas offers a unique experience, mainly due to the impressive music venues that you can find here. Huge international acts such as Elton John, Nicki Minaj and Celine Dion can be found performing somewhere, whilst popular musicals are on every night if that’s more your thing. Dozens of venues such as the Double Down Saloon or the House of Blues will provide you with the perfect distraction to stop you from gambling your life savings away.
From coast to coast, music fans will find US destinations worth visiting just for the live music. Every genre is represented in these American cities and you’ll find everything from huge arena productions to intimate local bars. The one thing they all have in common is that live music is a defining part of their identity and culture.