Let the mu­sic take you...

Some cities just live and breathe mu­sic, but where are the top places mu­sic lovers should travel to at least once in their life­time? Ben Ground­wa­ter re­ports.

Sunday News - - TRAVEL -

You know when you’re in a city that loves mu­sic. It’s all the venues dis­play­ing lists of bands com­ing to play. It’s the record stores that sit on ev­ery cor­ner. It’s the sound of live mu­sic float­ing through the air, work­ing its way out of pubs and bars and theatres and clubs.

Some cities just live and breathe mu­sic. It’s in the DNA. It’s not a part of life – it is life. It is the sort of places that ev­ery mu­sic fan should visit in their life­time.

(First though, a short ad­mis­sion – I’ve had to ex­clude some truly great mu­sic cities from this list, purely for the sake of space. So to New York, Port­land, Seat­tle, Mem­phis, Chicago, Cleve­land, Bos­ton, Leipzig, Bologna, Lon­don, Vi­enna and many more: apolo­gies.)

Los An­ge­les’ mu­si­cal glory years are prob­a­bly be­hind it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun vis­it­ing the venues that made it fa­mous. For Beach Boys vibes, drive out to Santa Mon­ica. Lovers of the Doors, go straight to Venice Beach, or stay at the Alta Cienega Mo­tel.

Those who dig Span­dex and big hair, mean­while, head to the Sun­set Strip, where 80s icons rocked venues like Dragon­fly, the Roxy and the Viper Room, drank at the Rain­bow Bar and Grill, and caused havoc in the Chateau Mar­mont. It seems like there isn’t a mo­ment in the day or night in Ha­vana that isn’t punc­tu­ated by the beat of bolero, the rhythm of cu­ba­ton, the sway of dan­zon. Mu­sic is ev­ery­where in the Cuban cap­i­tal, be­ing played by buskers on street cor­ners, pour­ing out of bars and clubs, drift­ing from the win­dows of apart­ments and houses. Peo­ple here love mu­sic, and they love to dance. ‘‘Mu­sic City’’ is so named be­cause it lives and breathes live mu­sic – Nashville was and still is a ma­jor hub for coun­try and western; how­ever, with the likes of Jack White (White Stripes) and Dan Auerbach (Black Keys) set­ting up shop here, Nashville also has a huge in­die and blues scene. There are hun­dreds of mu­sic venues to visit, from the fa­mous Ryman Au­di­to­rium, to the Blue­bird Cafe and the Sta­tion Inn. Ber­lin’s mu­si­cal his­tory is a long and fas­ci­nat­ing one: David Bowie used to live here, Iggy Pop recorded here, as did U2. In the 70s Ber­lin was on the fore­front of the punk scene: the city is still home to clas­sic clubs like SO36 in Kreuzberg, and Schoko­laden in Mitte. The mod­ern-day scene, mean­while, is all about techno and dance, housed in mega­clubs like Berghain and Tre­sor. For some laid-back fun though, head to the Mauer­park on Sun­days to watch bands busk and ran­dom pun­ters sing open-air karaoke. Austin hosts the now world­fa­mous South By South­west mu­sic fes­ti­val ev­ery March; how­ever, at any time of the year the self-pro­claimed ‘‘live mu­sic cap­i­tal of the world’’ is rock­ing, with hun­dreds of mu­sic venues play­ing host to in­die, coun­try, rock, blues, metal and more. Spoon, Iron and Wine, Wil­lie Nel­son, Dixie Chicks, Jim­mie Vaughan – they’re all from Austin. The in­fa­mous Ha­cienda club might be long gone, re­placed by a block of apart­ments, but there’s PHO­TOS: GETTY IMAGES still great mu­sic in Manch­ester, rem­nants of the hal­cyon Mad­ch­ester and Brit-pop days. Though you won’t see Oa­sis or The Smiths any more (you can do a walk­ing tour, how­ever, to check out their old haunts), venues such as Band on the Wall, Go­rilla and the Cas­tle Ho­tel are al­ways host­ing lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional acts. The Ir­ish love a song, some­thing you’ll ap­pre­ci­ate from the mo­ment you set foot in any tra­di­tional pub across the coun­try. If there isn’t a band on stage, there will be reg­u­lar pun­ters bring­ing along their in­stru­ments to get the crowd go­ing. To lis­ten to tra­di­tional mu­sic in Dublin, head to the Cob­ble­stone or O’Donoghue’s, grab a pint and get ready to sing. Any stu­dent of mu­si­cal his­tory, any fan of the hip­pie move­ment of the 60s and 70s, would al­ready know about San Francisco. This is the home of Haight-Ash­bury, the dis­trict that played such a huge part in hip­pie and psy­che­delic cul­ture, and many of the land­marks of that era re­main. You’ll also find Amoeba Mu­sic in the Haight – a must-do record story for vinyl fans. Age­ing punks, mean­while, should head across to Berkley to visit the clas­sic 924 Gilman St venue. Cali is known as Colom­bia’s ‘‘salsa cap­i­tal’’, which pretty much makes it the world’s salsa cap­i­tal. If you love to dance, or you love to watch other peo­ple who ac­tu­ally know what they’re do­ing dance, then you have to visit Cali, and pre­pare for a few long nights. Zap­e­r­oco is the city’s clas­sic salsa venue; how­ever, you should hop be­tween Tin Tin Deo, Si­boney and La Topa Tolon­dra to get the full ex­pe­ri­ence. New Or­leans’ mu­si­cal chops re­ally need no in­tro­duc­tion. This is a city with a mu­si­cal ob­ses­sion, the birth­place of jazz, with in­flu­ences from all over Africa and the Caribbean that can still be heard to­day. There’s al­ways mu­sic play­ing in New Or­leans – if it’s not in the pubs and clubs and ded­i­cated mu­sic venues, then it’s prob­a­bly be­ing played on the streets in a ‘‘sec­ond line’’ pa­rade. There are a few African cities with great mu­sic scenes – Es­saouria in Morocco is an­other to check out – but the best of them might just be Jo­han­nes­burg. There’s a huge range of live mu­sic to check out in Jozi on any given night, from jazz to house, hip-hop to tra­di­tional African styles. – Trav­eller

Aloe Blacc per­forms in New Or­leans, Louisiana.

Mem­bers of the hip-hop group Nuevo Mundo use a lap­top to play Amer­i­can dance mu­sic at the Jar­dines del Mella, Ha­vana, Cuba.

Danny O’Donoghue from The Script per­forms at The Ivy House in Dublin, Ire­land.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.