Six Great Rock’n’Roll Destinations

I’ve been a music nut since before I was born. My mother claims she listened to the Beach Boys throughout the nine months she carried me. By the time I was eight I had a dozen Beach Boy albums. Coincidence? I spun K-Tels on a tiny white plastic and denim (seriously) phonograph, then the big-as-a-love-seat cabinet stereo. Raided my parents LPs – Meet the Beatles(!) – and invested a lot of cash in vinyl, cassettes, then CDs, then MP3s. Even learned to play bass and guitar and played in bands over the years. (Opened for the Romantics once at a music festival and recorded with the marvy Marianne Flemming!)

So it is a great thing indeed to combine one passion with another: music and travel. Here are six great destinations for the rock and roll heart. I’ve been to four of them, but the last two are “On My List.” Got others to add? Leave a comment at the end!

 

Cleveland

I don’t know that there is a museum around that could keep me so engaged for so long as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (read about my experience there). They sell two-day tickets – ‘nuff said. I had to be dragged out. A great microbrewery in town, of course, never hurts (Great Lakes Brewing).

Check out some options for Cleveland hotels.

 

Memphis


What have you got here? Graceland. Rock and Soul Museum. Sun Studio. Stax Records. A Gibson guitar factory that offers tours. Throw in great food and the live music down on Beale Street and you can’t go wrong. I spent a weekend in Memphis once and realized I hadn’t given myself quite enough time just for the tourist sites let alone the chill time on Beale.

Places to stay in Memphis

 

Milwaukee

Summerfest! The world’s largest outdoor music festival: 11 days, 11 stages, and truckload of bands. The main stage at Marcus Amphitheater hosts the really big names across several genres of music. The smaller stages start around noon with local and regional acts and work their way up to popular newbies or classic acts. Daily promotions can make the event cheap or free, but even a one-day ticket is only about $12. My favorite shows over the years: Peter Gabriel, Rush, Elvis Costello, Rodrigo and Gabriela, Stanley Clarke. It’s held at the end of June and usually includes the 4th of July with accompanying fireworks.

But Wisconsin was also home to guitar pioneer and virtuoso, Les Paul. Discovery World right along Lake Michigan’s shore between the Summerfest grounds and the amazing Milwaukee Art Museum, has an exhibit dedicated to Les Paul.

A great place to stay near the Summerfest grounds is the fantastic, award-winning Iron Horse Hotel.

 

Austin

This is truly the Live Music Capital of the World. When I was there I counted over 200 live venues in the weekly entertainment paper. Many of those venues also serve some great food (here’s my roundup of great Austin food and music combos plus my Austin video) Best time to go is during SXSW – South by Southwest, the awesome music and film festival, held in March (March 9-18).

Check out Agoda for Austin hotels.

 

My Wish List:

Liverpool

I never cease to be amazed by what the four lads from Liverpool did in such a short period of time, and then added during their solo careers. This is where all started so it is only fitting that Liverpool is home to The Beatles Story Museum.  Since opening in 1988 it keeps expanding and now includes two locations in town and an audio guide narrated by John Lennon’s sister Julia. And The Cavern Club is not just the classic venue they used to play, but is now three entities including the original club, an added lounge and the pub across the street.

One of these days, I have to get here.

 

Manchester

photo by discosour

No, not England. Manchester, Tennessee, home of the music and arts festival Bonnaroo. Here’s another music festival that is basically off the scale big. The festival lasts for four days in June each year and brings in a shockingly good and long list of acts spanning a variety of styles. Rolling Stone has sung its praises as the best.

Hotels? Naw. Buy yourself a tent (use the Tent Finder at REI) or rent one there.

5 thoughts on “Six Great Rock’n’Roll Destinations

  • January 29, 2012 at 11:04 pm
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    Manchester, Tennessee? Who knew? Nice rundown, and a cool idea for a blog item. You might be interested in a new(ish) book I came across, “Rock & Roll Hotels” by British rock promoter Greg Simmons. The tag line is sex, drugs and fluffy pillows, and besides the obvious places like Chateau Marmont there were lots of less expected places, like London’s Portobello hotel where Alice Cooper ordered white mice from room service for his pet boa constrictor. http://blog.overnightnewyork.com/travel-lit-rock-roll-hotels/

    Reply
    • January 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm
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      That’s a great idea for a book. I’ll look it up! What’s the charge for smashing the television?

      Reply
  • January 30, 2012 at 5:05 am
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    I am not a great lover of Rock and Roll but occasionally, I hear a song that gets my feet tapping. Glad to see Liverpool on the list! 🙂 Beatles are one group that I like.

    Reply
    • January 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm
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      Yeah, the Beatles are so universal. I remember hearing Andean flute pipe music — doing the hits of the Beatles. Plus orchestral arrangements. Amazing, really.

      Reply

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