Do you like music? You like traveling, meeting people and seeing new and beautiful landscapes? Why not use the opportunity and expand your musical horizons when you are traveling by sampling out some of the local music scene and do some cool musical things around?
I have been traveling in the last three years in four different continents with my guitar. Wherever I go, I always look for a music show or something cool to do musically. Here you can see some pictures from these travels to get a taste.
When I was just starting out my travels, I missed out on a lot of opportunities to see and listen to a ton of great music stuff just because I did not know where to look for it. From huge cities to small towns, almost every place you will get to has a music scene, so this article will be a sum up of ideas on how to find those, and never again miss another cool show, jam or opportunity.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
– Augustine Of Hippo
7 Places To Look For Cool Musical Happenings When You’re On The Travels:
1 – Live Music Events Calendars
This is the first place you should look in. Google “*city your are traveling to* live music calendar”. If you do not get a good result, try playing around and switch the “live music calendar” with “music events list” or any similar search terms.
Here’s a good example of a big fish you can find this way – the New Orleans live music calendar is filled with 40-70 live music shows every day of the week and even more during the weekends. Yep, they are lucky and you won’t find that in many other places so that’s for the sake of the example.
Sometimes you will end up in the official website of the city with the list of venues, bars and restaurants that offer live music – that’s also good – screen out and check the venues’ website for details about tonight’s show or the night that you’re after. You can give them a call too. Usually, most of the music bars will be in the same area so you can always go and sniff around physically.
In most cities today there are also apps available that will show you the nightlife options, and usually musical events are included in their own category, which will make life easy for you.
2 – Open Mics
Open mics are great little events where every average Joe can take his guitar and go on stage to perform 1-3 songs. Usually, each city has a few on different days of the week, and you can find them by googling the name of the city + open mic.
These are one of my favorites while traveling – because besides the great opportunity to play live and gain stage experience, these events usually feel very friendly and communal and they are a good place to meet and vibe with locals who share the same passion with you – music!
Make sure that you are not going to a comedy open mic by mistake though, because they are common as well.
3 – Bars / Restaurant Jams
These are similar to open mics but with a twist – the stage is more crowded with musicians who go on and off it, and usually it’s going to be more of a freestyle type of the song choices (instead of the open mic way where you are usually going on stage with three songs you thought about earlier, playing them by yourself and getting off the stage). Look up the name of the city + jam and sometimes you will run into some interesting offers.
The most common jam types are for jazz, blues and bluegrass. They take place in a bar usually, and you join and sit in with the other musicians or just have a drink and enjoy the show.
Also – I found that a great place to look for lists of the best live music bars in your city (I’m sure that you’ll get to know a couple of new names) is in the local Time Out magazine website of your city. Just google the name of your city + Time Out.
4 – Music Festivals
A lot of small towns (and big cities off course) host music festivals all the time, especially during the summer months. These range from large, 3 days festivals, to even one-evening festivals, and usually there will be a lot of stages and artists, and a lot of fun things to do and to listen to.
Also, art festivals also usually offer a lot of live music so they are worth checking out. Look up the name of the city + festival and don’t repeat my mistake of missing the Queenstown’s (a beautiful town in New Zealand) Jazz Festival by a few days just because I did not check ahead.
If I would have checked, I could have arranged my visit for 3 days of a musical carnaval instead of visiting a sleepy town the week before.
“We always lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
Jack Kerouac – On The Road.
5 – Music Museums
Some cities are a host for special music museums that you can have a blast in. In some of them it might be small museums that you’ll have to google in order to find out about them, while in a few – these museums are a famous tourist attraction in the city.
The “Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame” in Cleveland, Ohio was actually the only reason I visited that state and it was well worth it – 6 floors jam packed with the sickest music artefacts you can see in America, a lot of that was interactive as well. The “Country Music Hall Of Fame” in Nashville, Tennessee was also a pretty cool place too. Same with the Jazz Museum in Kansas City.
In the Gibson guitar factory in Memphis, Tennessee you will enjoy the best smell of pure wood that you can find on earth when you take a tour in the factory where they make the ES-335’s legendary hollow bodied guitars. By the way, in this link you can have a very cool “virtual tour” in their Montana Acoustic Guitar Factory as well. Unfortunately when I was in San Diego, California I missed out on the Taylor guitar factory because I found out about it too late. Be on the lookout so you won’t miss those attractions!
6 – Spontaneous Jams
When you are traveling with an instrument you are inviting good energies, spontaneous jams and mixing up your music with other music of people from all around the world. In hostels you will always find other fellas who will be willing to sit in for a jam, and the same with campgrounds and campfires wherever you go.
Another great place to find people to jam with is in Local Facebook groups of musicians. Do a Facebook search for groups with the name of your city + “musicians” or “music jams” and this will lead you in the right direction.
7 – Just Chill With The Guitar In A Beautiful Spot
Gotta love this one… When the guitar is in your hands in front of a beautiful scenery – you are defiantly having a great day!
This is it, please let us know in the comments of more ideas, and share experiences from your travels. What was the place you enjoyed its music the most?
Click here for my Ultimate Road Trip Playlist Of 60 Songs.
Thank you for taking the time to read. Peace!
“What a longgggggg, strange trip it’s been”…
The Grateful Dead – Truckin’. Another epic road trip song.
* Originally posted in December ’14.