Music lovers living in America have a choice of attractions to visit in Dixie. The South was the breeding ground for a number of music genres ranging from gospel to alternative. If there was ever any reason to still be thankful that you live in red-state land, it is because there is no shortage of sites to see in this part of the country that pay tribute to the best of American music. No matter where you live in the South, you are at best a few hours away from seeing authentic memorials to some of the best musical artists that this country has yet produced.
A tour of American music attractions in the South must begin with the castle of the King. Graceland is merely a large suburban house compared to the castles that far less talented singers call home in California. While upstairs at Graceland is sealed off from visitors, this Memphis musical attraction is completely open to visitors downstairs. Tour guides have been replaced by an audio recollection courtesy of Priscilla-who-won’t-change-her-name-from-Presley. Or you can just toss the audio and enjoy your own tour of the Jungle Room’s thick shag carpeting and Tiki bar. Graceland visitors can also check out Elvis Presley’s gun collection, his gold records, his personal taste in music courtesy of his own private record collection and the black paisley brocade jacket in which he married Priscilla.
40 Watt Club
Sticking with the incredibly fertile breeding ground in Dixie, music lovers can cross over to Athens, Georgia and visit the famous 40 Watt Club. The 40 Watt Club still hosts musical acts that got their start in the vibrant Athens scene, but most music lovers will want to visit this rock venue for its certified position as a kind of Mecca of 80s alternative. Although it has moved from its original position, the spirit continues in its fame as the place where REM played before they went the way of U2 and became almost unlistenable. Those who are really aware of the greatness that is Athens music will appreciate that the co-founder of the 40 Watt Club was the drummer of the best band to ever come out of Athens. His name was Curtis Crow and his band was Pylon. If you don’t know Pylon, shame on you. The underappreciated Connells also made a name for themselves at this American music attraction.
Grand Old Opry
Zip back to Tennessee to stop by the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, if you must. The Opry used to be the site of incredible music from Hank Williams, Sr. to Johnny Cash. Today, the Opry is likely to include performances by acts like Trace Adkins and Montgomery Gentry. There is nothing wrong with those country singers per se, but just don’t go around thinking that this is what the Opry was built for. If your idea of great country music—and it should be—springs forth names like Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, Roy Acuff and Hank Snow, then you should visit the Opry for its role as a museum. If you prefer today’s country music, then, well, you might even enjoy the live acts featured today. Those who prefer real country music to today’s version should definitely forget the Opry and instead head to RCA Studio B, which is part of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Here is the place where a great many country hits of the 60s and 70s were recorded, including those made by Elvis and the Everly Brothers.
Savoy Music Center Accordion Factory
The accordion is the most underappreciated instrument in music history. Forget Lawrence Welk and “Lady of Spain” and imagine listening to zydeco or Cajun music or the best of Mink DeVille without an accordion. That’s not even to mention Weird Al, so we won’t, shall we. New Orleans has a bunch of places to head to if you love jazz, but don’t forget that Louisiana has more to offer than jazz. Just a few miles north of Eunice, Louisiana is the Savoy Music Center Accordion Factory. This factory makes hand-made accordions and also sells books and CDs. If you love Cajun music or zydeco—and you should—then this is the music attraction in the South to see. But save that visit for a Saturday morning when you are more likely to hit a bunch of top quality musicians who have come in just for jamming.