You may still be on the fence about the Super Bowl Halftime Show (did Madonna lip-synch? Did MIA flip the bird?) but we can assure you that there are plenty of musical havens for all genres around the earth. Whether you want to rock and roll all night, or honky tonk all day, these music meccas are must-sees for any true fan.
Photo by Mashka
This Mathew Street venue was witness to the birth of one of music’s greatest bands: The Beatles. The Fab Four cut their performance teeth with 292 performances at the Cavern Club between 1961 and 1963, before rocketing off to super-stardom the following year. The club is still open for visitors, who are greeted with a sculpture of John Lennon reclining outside the front door.
New York, NY
This Greenwich Village mainstay is legendary as a launching pad for the careers of some of the 20th century’s greatest musicians. Since its heyday in the 1960s, Cafe Wha? has seen the likes of Bob Dylan, the Velvet Underground, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Kool and the Gang, Peter Paul and Mary perform on its humble stage - not to mention legendary standups like Joan Rivers, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Woody Allen and Lenny Bruce.
Photo by zabelle
Grand Ole Opry
Housed appropriately in the Grand Old Opry House, east of downtown Nashville, this weekly country music concert has feature the cream of the country music crop since 1925. The Opry specializes in a mix of classic and current artists in genres including country, bluegrass, gospel, folk and the occasional funny sketch. Legends like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and the Carter family were regulars on the Opry in their time, while current stars like Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire and Brad Paisley still grace the stage. Shows typically take place on Tuesdays, Friday and Saturdays, and there’s plenty to do in the meantime, with numerous hotels, restaurants and shopping opportunities nearby.
Stax Records Museum
While the original Stax was demolished in 1989, this museum is an almost perfect replica, sitting on the same lot as the original. This studio was ground zero for the birth of early soul and funk, launching the careers of legendary artists like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Booker T and the MG’s.
Photo by RoBoNC
The Country Music Hall of Fame
Located in downtown Nashville, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum charts the evolution of the genre from its humble beginnings, to the stadium filling acts of today. Visitors are treated to exhibits, artifacts and rare recordings, not to mention highlights like Webb Pierce’s “Silver Dollar Convertible”, a 1962 Bonneville so named for the more than 1,000 silver dollars in its upholstery. Or Elvis’ “Solid Gold Cadillac”, a Lincoln limo with 24 karat gold highlights, and a gold-plated TV and record player inside. The Hall of Fame rotunda is the central draw, its round walls lined with brass plaques honoring inductees like Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson.
Once the birthplace of the Motown Sound, Berry Gordy’s Hitsville, USA is now home to the Motown Historical Museum, one of the city’s most popular destinations. Visitors can trace the roots of the Motown sound and measure its impact on 20th century music through exhibits that celebrate legendary artists like the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, Martha and The Vandellas, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Temptations and Stevie Wonder.
Photo by Shady Ady
Graceland may be the most fun, most opulent and most downright crazy musical museum on the planet. Visitors can walk in the steps of The King as an audio tour (with commentary and stories by Elvis himself, and daughter Lisa Marie) guides them through Graceland spaces like the living room, music room, Elvis’s parents’ bedroom, his dining room, his kitchen, TV room, pool room and the famed Jungle Room. Tours of the 14-acre estate also include visits to his father’s business office, The King’s royal racquetball building and his trophy building, housing his massive collection of gold and platinum records. Gearheads will love the Elvis Presley Car Museum, housing over 33 automotive treasures owned by The King, including his Pink Cadillac, 1975 Dino Ferrari, 56 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible and even the red MG from Blue Hawaii. Even Elvis’s jet is open for exploration, allowing visitors to tour its living room, conference room, sitting room and private bedroom, all with their gold-plated seatbelts, sueded chairs, and leather-covered tables. Finally, you’ll visit the peaceful meadow where Elvis and his parents have been laid to rest.
Whiskey a Go-Go
Los Angeles, CA
A Sunset Strip anchor since 1964, this West Hollywood club can arguably be called the birthplace of LA’s rock scene. Legendary artists like The Doors, Janis Joplin, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield launched their careers from the Go-Go, while bands as legendary as Led Zeppelin and Guns n’ Roses have frequented the stage. It’s still open to this day, so head over and check out what (may) be the next big thing.
Photo by RoBoNC
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The crown jewel of Cleveland’s redeveloped North Coast Harbor, this bastion of rock history offers visitors no less than seven levels of history to explore. You’ll spend plenty of time on levels 1 through 5, exploring the permanent and temporary exhibits about the history of this musical art form. Highlights include exhibits like ‘Women Who Rock”, “The Beatles” (where you’ll see George Harrison’s striped suit from the 1966 US tour, Ringo’s jacket from Strawberry Fields Forever film, John Lennon’s black wool coat worn in Help! and Paul’s handwritten arrangement for “Birthday”), an Otis Redding exhibit, “Cities and Sounds”, “Cleveland Rocks” and “Music of the Midwest”. Don’t miss the actual Hall of Fame on the third floor, where you can pay homage to all of your favorite rock gods.
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