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Sounds of the South: 7 bucket list experiences for music lovers

Leah Yeung
·Branded Content Editor
·4-min read

This article is brought to you by Travel South, USA. However, all opinions are genuinely held by the Yahoo Lifestyle Editorial Team.

For music lovers, there’s no greater experience than a trip through America’s South. Soaking up the history of some of the most iconic musical places in the world is a true bucket-list trip to plan for when we can travel internationally again. The Rhythms of the South consists of three cities - Nashville, Atlanta and New Orleans - that are steeped in musical legend. Here’s how to visit three cities, in three states – and a few extra highlights along the way…

Start in the birthplace of jazz, Louisiana’s New Orleans, that was home to Louis Armstrong and Harry Connick Jr. Stroll through the streets and take your pick of bars, restaurants and clubs that play live music day and night. Whatever you don’t miss Preservation Hall, a venue which is dedicated to preserving New Orleans jazz.

Five hours drive north is Birmingham, Alabama, that’s home to the legendary musical roadhouse, Gip’s Place. A Blues lover’s dream, the venue was first opened by Herman “Henry” Gipson in 1952 as a way for local musicians to socialise and play music together. It became so well known that people started to travel from across the state to join in. Henry died in 2019, but his family still run the venue and live by Henry’s motto: “No blacks, no whites, just the Blues."

Another two hours north is Muscle Shoals, renowned for creating some of the world’s best rhythm and blues. Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is a recording studio that become internationally famous in the 1960s, after artists such as Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones recorded there. The nearby FAME Studio, was founded in 1959 and recorded artists such as Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. Both studios offer historical tours, as well as still recording today.

Take the road north for two and a half hours and you’ll arrive in Nashville, Tennessee and pay a visit to the “Mother Church of Country Music”, the Ryman Auditorium, where you can take a behind the scenes tour and have your photo taken on the famous stage. The Grand Ole Opry is also a must-visit. Hang out backstage with a tour guide before a performance to really experience the buzz of live music. Then, head for dinner at the Bluebird Café where you can watch live music as you eat. Willie Nelson, Faith Hill and Neil Young have all sung there in the round. March 24- 28 sees the renowned Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival come to town. Over 300 songwriters sing and talk about what inspired their songs, and there are workshops for aspiring songwriters too.

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Three and a half hours drive south is the hip-hop capital of the South, Atlanta, Georgia. Whatever your musical flavor, Atlanta’s legacy of music producer masterminds, rappers and singer/songwriters will satisfy. MJQ Concourse is a nightclub bar hidden beneath the street, offering music from drum ‘n’ bass to hip-hop acts. Visit the Little Five Points neighborhood to take a photo in front of the mural featuring one of Atlanta’s most iconic hop-hop duos, OutKast. T.I.’s Trap Music Museum turned trap music culture into an art form with exhibits paying homage to rappers that define Atlanta. It is a necessary visit for any audiophile wanting to dive into the city’s hip-hop heritage. An hour away in Macon, visit the life-sized statue of their most famous resident, Otis Reading. Wander down Cherry Street to enjoy live music from today’s up and coming musicians and then head to The Allman Brothers Band Museum at The Big House which was their former home, and has been turned in to a museum dedicated to their music.

Then check out the newly re-opened Capricorn Sound Studios, now known as Mercer Music at Capricorn. When it originally opened in 1969, the studio made a name for itself cultivating artists in a new genre; Southern Rock. Today musicians can rehearse and record there, and there’s also a museum which re-lives the building’s history through visual and audio story-telling.