Part of a series (though you might not know it!) of reasons to be cheerful despite the highs of the Olympics being over… get away to the USA and get lost in music in Tennessee. As well as music, there's a lot that's worthy of a roadtrip. Numerous trails offer incredible views at the Smoky Mountain National Park. You can see quite easily how musicians have, for years, been inspired by the landscapes here.
Take a journey to the south and see for yourself the places at the heart of great American music from country, rock n' roll, blues and jazz. In my last post and because it's been 35 years since Elvis' death, I revisited a trip to Memphis, Tennessee. Here, we stay in Tennessee for a look into what's coming up in September…
For sale on Beale St, Memphis
The south feels really very different from the rest of the states. More down to earth, homely and just that little bit looser - you can buy beers and cocktails to go and still find cigarette machines in bars. I don't even smoke but I found it strangely refreshing (don't get me wrong, I'm not about to campaign for smoking to be allowed back in bars and restaurants. I just liked that the rules down south were a little bit more relaxed…).
In cities like Memphis and Nashville, the streets are alive with music. In Memphis, a walk down Beale St shows just how spoilt you are for good old fashioned blues. And despite it being the 'blues', I just felt pure joy listening to some of these great artists play.
Music to toe-tap to
I can't imagine these towns ever not being good for catching some great music - but here are some fantastic events coming up to give you that little push to make it there.
Memphis Music & Heritage Festival
On the Comcast Folklore Hall Stage
Photo via joespakeblog
Hosted by the Center for Southern Folklore, the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival takes over Main Street for two days of music, culture, food and great stories (you always feel like you're listening to a story listening to music down here). Look out for marching bands, art on the streets and put some south in your mouth as local chefs dole out regional specialties (you can't not go without trying some ribs or deep fried catfish… or both!). Featuring music from gospel to folk and blues, anyone with a love for good music will find something to love here.
The Memphis Music and Heritage Festival takes place on 1 and 2 September (Labor day weekend in the USA) and is free to attend. Find out more at www.southernfolklore.com.
Casey Jones Old-Time Music Festival
On 8 September in Jackson, Tennessee, you'll really feel like you've gone back in time at the Casey Jones Home and Railroad Museum (part of the Casey Jones Village. Love bluegrass and country music? This one's finger pickin' good (I know, I know - terrible!) and a music fest for you! Find out more and see what else you can do in the Casey Jones Village at www.caseyjones.com.
Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion
Fiddling and strumming
Photo via bristolrhythm
Three days of roots, country, bluegrass and folk - you'll find a whole lot of fiddle playing and guitar strumming and picking in Bristol, Tennessee. On the border with Virginia, it's on the doorstep of the Cherokee National Forest and a short drive from the Smoky National Park. It's worth a roadtrip for big fans! Located in the 'birthplace of country music', it's a fantastic setting to celebrate country music's roots. The Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion starts on 14 September and goes on to 16 September. Find out more on www.bristolrhythm.com.
More music from the South
A keen music aficionado? Read our post on the sounds of New Orleans and get happy, just like they do in N'Awlins.
Be inspired by the music and landscapes of Tennessee - looking for a great deal USA car hire to get you around? We've got car hire at several locations in Tennessee and surrounding states including Memphis Airport car hire, Nashville Airport car hire, Atlanta car hire and New Orleans Airport car hire.