When you think of the Midwest, US does music come to mind? Chances are it doesn’t – but it should! If Motown and soul is what you love, Detroit, Michigan is the place to go. Do you instead live to rock and roll? If so then Cleveland, Ohio should be on your radar. Branson, Missouri is where to go for some of the best folk and country acts in the country. Jazz and blues have had a home in Chicago for decades.
Detroit may have a rough reputation, especially of late but it’s also home to one of America’s most important music scenes. Head to West Grand Boulevard and you’ll find Hitsville USA home of the Motown Museum. Along with motown, techno music has often been cited as having been born in Detroit. The Music Institute was one of the first clubs where techno was developed and played. Today they still offer music lessons and some events. After you make your plan of what to see book your hotel. Stay in one of the hotels near the Detroit airport to get in and out of the city easily.
Rock and Roll and Cleveland go hand in hand but it’s not because of a single event or experience. Some claim the birth of the genre happened here with a DJ in the 1950’s. Like many things at the time music was segregated by gender. Freed, the DJ, was friends with the owner of a popular record store where “race music” as rhythm and blues music was called could be listened to and purchased by anyone. He started playing the music on air and it took off. Today you’ll find the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland as well as dozens of venues playing live music. Couple these events with one of the cheap hotels in Cleveland and you’ll have a music filled getaway!
Sure it’s a bit of a tourist trap but Branson has a long history of bringing together live theatre, music and entertainment. Branson rose in the 1960’s with family acts that combined Ozark mountain music with popular country music. It took just over twenty years but soon Branson became a destination for celebrities to come and preform as well. Families came for music and shows but also the rides and family-friendly attractions that grew with the area.
Today there are over 80 live shows running day and night and it’s considered America’s Live Entertainment Capital!
The biggest of the Midwestern cities any list about music in the region can’t leave off Chicago. Jazz and blues emerged in the city around the same time; the early to mid-20th century. Many attribute this growth to the large migration of African Americans from the south to northern cities like Chicago and brought new music styles with. Chicago was a huge melting pot at this time and it makes sense that new music styles would be created from this fusion.
Many musicians found their footing in Chicago and today there are jazz clubs, festivals, and venues across the city that regularly promote and put on jazz performances.
Music Festivals in the Midwest
If you prefer live music then you need to head to America’s Heartland in the summer. There are dozens of festivals held across the area which headline national and international acts. Which one will you check out?
- America’s River Festival – Dubuque
- 80/35 Music Festival – Des Moines
- Blues Festival – Chicago
- Grant Park Music Festival – Chicago
- Mo Pop – Detroit
- Electric Forest – Rothbury
- Winstock Country Festival – Winstock
- Twin Cities Jazz Festival – Minneapolis
- Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival – Duluth
- Summerfest – Milwaukee
- Eaux Claires – Eau Claire
- Country USA – Oshkosh
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