Country music is all about roots, and in Southern USA they run deep. This Country Music Day (September 17) fill up your gas tank, strap on your cowboy boots, sing along with the radio, and take a drive down country roads. A country music trip is about more than just great entertainment. With these destinations, you’ll take a closer look at how country music came to be. Learn about its roots in folk music and bluegrass, commemorate musical legends and discover up-and-coming artists.
Nashville, Tennessee – Popular Country: This is the city where country legends are born. New stars such as Taylor Swift and Jason Aldean come together on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium, home of the famed Grand Ole Opry, and you can trace the legends of yesterday at the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Johnny Cash Museum. Broadway boasts legendary honky-tonks (Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge), traditional country clubs (Robert’s Western World) and shops selling Western apparel (Boot Barn). For six years, the city was also home to the hit TV show “Nashville.”
Bristol, Tennessee – Birthplace of Country Music: Straddling the border of Virginia and Tennessee, the city of Bristol was the site of the first country recordings. The 1927 Bristol Sessions are among the moments and artists captured at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. For live music, there’s the annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, which takes over chunks of both sides of the state border every fall. For some eats, check out the Burger Bar which, according to legend, was the site of the legendary Hank Williams Sr.’s last meal. The U.S. Congress officially declared Bristol the birthplace of country music in 1998.
Owensboro, Kentucky – Bluegrass Roots: The birthplace of bluegrass hosts the annual ROMP Festival, which features all-time greats such as Ricky Skaggs and Alison Krauss and new acts such as Fireside Collective. If you want to get schooled on the history, check out the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum. You can also see live shows at the museum or the Owensboro Sportscenter, which has hosted numerous concerts by legendary performers, including country greats Merle Haggard, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry.
Louisiana, New Orleans: The city’s music is its beating heart – especially true during Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest and other celebrations. The musical notes of jazz, brass, country, shine bright. Take a walk down Frenchmen Street, the main artery of the Marigny neighbourhood adjacent to the French Quarter and take in the vibrant blocks of cafes, music clubs and restaurants including Snug Harbor, d.b.a. and the Spotted Cat. New Orleans has produced its share of musical giants, from greats like Louis Armstrong, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint to contemporary acts like Trombone Shorty, Big Freedia and Hurray for the Riffraff. Preservation Hall on Bourbon Street is always a hit but also visit the Mother-In-Law Lounge on Claiborne Avenue, Rock-N-Bowl in Mid-City, the Maple Leaf Uptown and Vaughn’s in the Bywater. These local dives and music venues will keep you dancing all night. It’s all part of the magic.
Exploring the city’s rich musical tapestry can be exhilarating, and to fully immerse yourself in this vibrant culture, considering a comfortable stay becomes essential. For those looking to extend their journey in the heart of this musical paradise, top-notch extended stay New Orleans hotels offer the perfect respite, blending seamlessly into the rhythm of the city’s life, ensuring every moment is steeped in the local ambiance.
Clarksdale, Mississippi: The state of Mississippi is the birthplace of the blues and has influenced many other genres of music from jazz to country, rock’n’roll to gospel. Many legendary musicians have a history in Mississippi including Elvis Presley, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, Charley Patton, Son House and WC Handy. Although Mississippi is known the world around for its connection to the blues, it also boasts an incredible collection of historic country artists that have helped shape the genre as we know it today. If you’re down for some live Country Music, head to The Thirsty Hippo, Smoot’s Grocery, Duling Hall. Get to know the musical history on the Mississippi Country Music Trail.