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Top 5 USA cities for music

Published July 16th, 2014

Scan any music download chart and you’ll see that USA is usually top of the pops. The States has birthed a number of musical genres from chicken scratch to riot grrl and thrash metal to swamp pop, plus those slightly better known styles like blues, rock, jazz and rap. And there’s more musical shrines than you can write an alt country song about. Retro rockabilly wannabes will find their Mecca in Memphis with a pilgrimage to Graceland and Sun Records, punk’s not dead at New York’s  Hotel Chelsea (although Sid and Nancy are no longer with us), and grunge’s musical nirvana will always be Seattle. While by no means an exhaustive list, for live venues, music festivals, street performances or word-of-mouth gigs, check out these top 5 USA cities for music.

 

 

Austin, Texas

Heard of a little festival called South by Southwest? Yep, with around 2,000 acts performing on over 100 stages across SXSW, Austin more than earns its self-titled moniker of ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ in that festival week alone. Outside of SXSW, check out Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon for roots country (and the weekly Chicken Shit Bingo),  The Hole in the Wall college bar for up-and-coming acts and the aptly named Beerland for punk, metal and garage.

 

 

Miami, Florida

Bringing the beats back, Florida is famous for more than just Flo Rida, if you get my drift. Proponents of Miami bass and Miami sound, the city is also a stronghold of Cuban, Latino, Southern rap, disco and rock all distilled into the heady club scene. EDM, that’s electronic dance music to the uninitiated, is also massive in Miami with the annual Winter Music Conference (WMC) showcasing  dance music acts from around the world, plus the Ultra Music Festival on the same week.

 

 

Nashville, Tennessee

While Nashville is usually synonymous with just two types of music: country and western, and even a TV show about the country music recording industry (called, duh, Nashville), Music City has a thriving indie scene with over 120 live venues and plenty of music museums. Head to Grimey’s, a local institution with The Basement venue above a record store; The End dive bar for punk rock; and Robert’s Western World for honest-to-god honky tonk tunes. BYO boots.

 

 

New York City, New York

Cutting its teeth on punk rock at CBCG in Alphabet City all the way up to Showtime at The Apollo in Harlem, Manhattan has a history of straddling music genres and generating buzz at famous venues. You can still see a show at The Apollo Theater, where legends like James Brown and Ella Fitzgerald headlined; cool kids-in-the-know go to Cake Shop with live gigs in the basement and baked goods in the shop above; or go to the teeny Mercury Lounge for next-best-things.

 

 

Los Angeles, California

Surf bands, psychedelic folk singers, punk rockers, hair metal groups, ravers and West Coast gangsta rappers have all represented LA at one stage. Under the Hollywood sign, hipster neighbourhoods like Los Feliz, Silverlake and Echo Park have also been nurturing an indie scene. For an eclectic mix of up-and-comers and ‘80s throwbacks, see a show at The Satellite or House of Blues, while Troubadour boasts under-the-radar headline acts and acoustic singer-songwriter sets.

 

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Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.