Country, jazz and blues can all claim to be truly American art forms. On a journey drenched in cultural history; experience their roots on a 600-mile stretch of road through the deep South, discovering a celebration for the love of music in all of its forms along the way.
Bearing the nickname “Music City”, it's clear to see why Nashville has held down this title for so long. If you get tickets to a show at a historic venue such as The Grand Ole Opry, you can almost feel the musical legacy ring out. Just take a walk along the infamous Ryman Alley, where guitars sing from almost every bar and cowboys and country queens let it rip in joints they have occupied for decades.
On the drive from Nashville to Memphis, the suburbs may recede, but the musical history remains vibrant. As you approach the city, the sultry allure of the Mississippi Delta begins to take hold, the hearty twang of country morphing into the stoic slide of the blues.
Reach out and touch musical history. Drawn to the neon lights of Beale Street, stand in the recording booth at Sun Studios, where the Million Dollar Quartet once stood: Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash, or pay your respects to The King himself at his former home, Graceland. Find solace in seeing the famous Jungle Room, take a seat in his private jet, and have your own moment of musical transcendence, standing at Presley’s final resting place.
Across the flat swamplands, the Crescent City of New Orleans comes into view. Hundred-year-old architecture gives way to 300-year-old buildings, replete with iron balconies of Spanish colonialism, French and Caribbean influences also making themselves known. Bourbon Street has less live jazz now and more karaoke bars, but duck into the cellar at Fritzel’s and the rock music gives way to brass and woodwind. Just around the corner, you can line up for tickets to the dusty showroom at Preservation Hall, where traditional “Dixieland” jazz rules the roost. Take a short walk to Frenchmen Street, and you’ll hear jazz flooding out from almost every venue, where cozy clubs such as The Blue Nile and The Spotted Cat are packed with revelers and swing dancers.
Country music, the blues and jazz all have their histories and their heroes. It’s a testament to the culture of the Deep South that these traditions are celebrated and conserved, not just in the old venues but in each of the generations that pass through, playing live music and paying homage to those that came before.
Explore these equally rich but varied cities of the south. Roll the windows down and play some tunes on your journey to discovering a sound that speaks to you the most in our latest title, The Great American Road Trip.