On this 12 day music-themed fly-drive through Tennessee and Alabama you'll encounter the music cities of Nashville, Birmingham, Muscle Shoals and Memphis. Discover "where history made music then music made history" as you connect with the people, places and stories in America's legendary Deep South.
Price per person includes:
Contemporary Nashville is about music. This city has been the Capital of Country Music since the Grand Ole Opry began broadcasting from here in 1925. This is the show that made country music famous. From humble beginnings as a barn dance in an insurance company building, today the Grand Ole Opry House is a place where you can see superstars, legends and up-and-coming artists perform. Bon Voyage would be happy to arrange tickets for a performance at the Opry, these are normally Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Another must-do stop in Music City has to be the impressive Country Music Hall of Fame. Here you can pay homage to country music's finest including Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash. Tours of nearby Historic RCA Studio B leave several times a day from the Country Music Hall of Fame, once the recording studio of Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins and the Everly Brothers.
Around the corner you’ll find the small, but fascinating, Johnny Cash Museum with exhibits and music that chronicles ‘The Man in Black’ life story. A visit to Nashville would not be complete without a stop at the country-music shrine, the Ryman Auditorium and Museum, home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. You can go to the Ryman for live music performances, take a tour and even record your own single. In keeping with the music theme Bon Voyage can also arrange private tours of Nashville guided by local musicians, please call for further details.
In the evening head for the live music bars and honky-tonks along vibrant Broadway in Lower Downtown Nashville.
Distance: 192 miles
Take the short drive to Birmingham, home to the more than 100-year-old Birmingham Music Club; the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame; Tuxedo Junction, a place made famous in song by Erskine Hawkins and his Orchestra; and Ona’s Music Room, a jazz club that has been listed as one of the top 10 in the nation.
Birmingham’s musical heritage runs deep. African-American cappella quartet singing that developed in Jefferson County as the “Birmingham Sound” in the 1930's and 40's is played today by the local group the Birmingham Sunlights. The Birmingham Sound has been called the direct-line ancestor to the most popular versions of African-American harmony later made famous by The Temptations . Several of the members of The Temptations , the most successful soul group of the 1960's were from Birmingham. Visit the Eddie Kendrick Memorial Park in downtown which honours The Temptations and its lead singer. Nearby is the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame where you can learn about Frank “Doc” Adams ’ who worked as a member of Duke Ellington Orchestra and the first Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame inductee as well as the work of Erskine Hawkins known for his band’s worldwide hit Tuxedo Junction about a local streetcar stop in the Ensley neighborhood at the intersection of Ensley Avenue and 20th Street.
The Birmingham based Original Gospel Harmonettes was a highly successful group from the mid 1940s until the lead singer left to become a civil rights activist in the 1960's. Considered one of the most influential saxophonists in the history of jazz music, John Coltrane recorded Alabama as an emotional tribute to four African American children who were killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. The recording took place just two months after the tragic incident.
Artists with ties to Birmingham also include great women of the early Classic Blues period, such as Lucille Bogan and Leola “Coot” Grant. Legendary blues drummer Sam Lay, known for his famous double-shuffle, was born in Birmingham as were visionary jazz artist Sun Ra, blues pianist Walter Roland, folk and jazz singer Odetta, and Cleveland Eaton, one of the greatest jazz string players ever. Birmingham is also the birthplace of American Idol stars Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks, and current jazz performer Eric Essix. Ona Watson, whose Ona’s Music Room draws crowds and has a loyal following of music lovers, also lives in the area.
If in the area on a Saturday night, be sure to visit Gip’s Place. It is located in the backyard of Henry Gipson’s home that sits beside the big curve along the 3100 block of Avenue C in Bessemer. Gipson is a gravedigger by day and a musician at night. For more than 50 years, some of the best musicians around have been coming to his backyard to play. Many Sundays you can find Cleve Eaton playing at the Open Door Café in the Birmingham suburb of Mountain Brook or on many Wednesdays at Old Car Heaven in downtown Birmingham.
Birmingham has several entertainment areas with live music. You can people watch, dance to great live music, and enjoy fantastic dining at Five Points South, one of the city's top entertainment districts. Stroll along the tree-shaded streets or stop and admire the artistry of the Frank Fleming sculpture, "The Storyteller" at the famous fountain. Some of the establishments in Five Points South include the famed Highland Bar & Grill, one of the top restaurants in America. Bell Bottoms, and Zydeco are two of the places to hear live music. Other popular nightspots include Blue Monkey Lounge, Bailey’s Pub, Dave’s Pub, Club 1120, Club Rize, The J. Clyde, The Nick, and Twist n Shout. Located inside Hotel Highland is the H Bar, where you can live jazz music Tuesday through Thursday and blues on Saturday.
Distance: 112 miles
Muscle Shoals is a small town with a big sound. Located alongside the banks of the Tennessee River, this region of Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant music.
Home to two of the most influential recording studios in the USA, the Muscle Shoals Sounds Studio which was renowned for their huge contribution to rock, country and R&B music throughout the 60’s, 70’s and FAME Studios where superstars like Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, Paul Simon and Otis Reading all made classic recordings.
Be sure also to visit the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in nearby Tuscumbia, here you’ll enjoy exhibits and music from Alabama’s famous music icons including Dinah Washington, Jimmie Rogers, Sam Phillips, Nat King Cole, Tammy Wynette, The Temptations and the Commodores.
Distance: 151 miles
Memphis is "Home of the Blues" and the "Birthplace of rock'n'roll", and the city celebrates the music on famous Beale Street 24/7.
Music wafts in from the mighty Mississippi River and breezes down Beale Street where blues pioneers first plied their trade. See the memorabilia and dig deeper at the new Blues Hall of Fame and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. Head to Sun Studio where you can literally stand on the mark made by giants: Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. Don't forget to visit the most famous address in rock 'n' roll: Graceland, Elvis’ beloved mansion where you can gape at walls of Gold records and family photos.
Soul was forged in Memphis, so a visit to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is a must-do. Here you'll learn about the Soul greats - Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, Eddie Floyd and Albert King. When you're not tapping your toes in the legendary music venues of Beale Street head to Overton Square entertainment district to hang out with the locals and enjoy live music.
Like classic American cars? Love rock'n'roll? Let Bon Voyage arrange a private tour of Memphis in a 1955 Chevy for you. We have local musicians on hand to guide you through this incredible city. Please call for further details.
Distance: 199 miles
On your drive back to Nashville you may want to consider a slight detour to the world's only Tina Turner Museum in sleepy Brownsville. This museum is housed in the historic blacks-only one-room schoolhouse she attended as a child.
This is your last day, however you may decide to extend your stay. Perhaps you would like to catch a train to New Orleans or maybe enjoy a Mississippi River cruise.
Call the USA travel specialists at Bon Voyage to discuss your perfect Music Triangle adventure.