1. Great Music Towns
New York, New York
Because it's the Big Apple, and because it boasts more jazz musicians and cabaret singers than anywhere else on earth.
Los Angeles, California
The capital of the music biz has a vibrant live-music scene for an industry town, although venues, like the city itself, sprawl all over the place.
San Francisco, California
Sophisticated, smart, and snobbily provincial, there isn't a more scenic place to hear music than the City by the Bay, with plenty of remnants of the colorful psychedelic scene birthed here in the '60s to sift through.
With the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, and Music Row, the city known as Music City U.S.A. is rich in tradition, even though its musical reach long ago extended beyond the realm of country music. Souvenir shops, guided tours, and institutions such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum provide plenty to see and do by day, while clubs like the Bluebird Café offer plenty to do at night.
The Live Music Capital of the World claim is justified, with a club for every musical taste, from cowboy to crunk.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The city cares about its music almost as much as it does about its food. No city has its own sound like NOLA does, and it shows in the rhythm and sway the entire population moves to. Even your cabbie might have had a hit single back in the '50s.
Graceland and Sun Records are but two of the many musical landmarks here.
This resort destination in the Ozarks was the first outside of Vegas to compel audiences to travel to the entertainment, instead of the other way around. As such, Branson is chock-full of theaters featuring family-style acts, heavy on mainstream country, with a special fondness for fiddler Shoji Tabuki and singer Andy Williams.
The birthplace of grunge is still very much a happening, cutting-edge music town populated by more than a few players and producers who commute to day gigs in L.A.
Between Motown, Eminem, Aretha, the White Stripes, and MC5 and the Stooges led by Iggy Pop, respect is a given. There's a long history of great music emanating out of the Motor City, and it's still bubbling up.