If you are a true cowboy at heart, you know you can’t ride horseback across the vast, open land without the proper soundtrack and that’s exactly why we made country music. But country music is more than just the slide guitars, double basses, fiddles and yodeling vocals – it’s a lifestyle.
As a fan of country music, you’d probably be interested in visiting cities which defined the genre, as well as listening to your favorite tunes in legendary bars and other venues. Without further ado, here are some of the best cities for country music fans:
There’s a reason why folks call Nashville ”The Country Music Capital of the World,” as well as ”The Music City.” This great city is home to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the annual four-day CMA Music Festival and the renowned Grand Ole Opry – these are just a few impressive dedications to the fine art of country music. If you ever have the opportunity, the museum is a mighty fine place to visit, with exhibits ranging from every single platinum country record ever recorded to Elvis Presley’s solid gold 1960 Cadillac.
Just a mile down the road is Lower Broadway, a street packed with honky-tonk bars and live boot-scooting country music. While you’re at it, don’t forget to stop by the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, which shelves an incredibly impressive collection of rare country music CDs, DVDs and books. When it comes to live performances, the Grand Ole Opry’s the place to go, with their immersive repertoire of country music concerts and shows.
During the 80’s, Branson was one of the bigger places when it came to country music, with the help of prominent names such as Loretta Lynn and Waylon Jennings. In 1991, the TV show “60 Minutes” began to air a segment on the musically inclined city and it was at that moment that tourism boomed. And we all know what happens when tourism suddenly blooms in a city. Today, Branson proudly hosts well over 100 shows and concerts and attracts nearly 8 million tourists on a yearly basis. Even though Branson offers a large variety of shows, the primary focus has been good ole’ country music for quite some time now. Some popular shows include the original “Presley’s Country Jubilee” and the merry “A Country Legacy – Fountains of Country” show, which utilizes 36,000 gallons of “dancing” water.
Even though country music may be something of a business in Tennessee, it’s a way of life in Texas. You may try and find a place more fitting for the development of country music, but there are no other places with as many music concerts, nightclubs and small town Opry shows and legends of the genre (including the likes of George Strait, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Bob Wills, etc.) as Austin.
Austin is also the only city to have an independent country scene apart from Nashville and Texas is proud to have their own subgenre of country music. In fact, in some circles, Texas country is more popular than mainstream country and has cultivated its own history and heroes such as Robert Earl Keen and Jerry Jeff Walker. Unbeknownst to many, Austin was named “The Live Music Capital of the World” in 1991 because of the number of live music venues held there.
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
If you fall off the northern slopes of the Great Smoky Mountains (and somehow manage to survive the landing), you will land close to a 150-acre theme park that is just as lively as its vivacious, peppy Grammy-winning, country-singing, heart-melting owner, Dolly Parton. Parton opened Dollywood in 1986 and the theme park now features roller coasters, a water park and an abundance of live entertainment.
During the summer, Dollywood is the proud host of “The Great American Country Show,” which is basically a 40-minute live show that features six country singers supported by a six-piece band, as well as a performance by a randomly picked distinguished country music star. If you’re lucky enough, you may even get to see Dolly perform, the holy grail of country music.