Music Tour through Alabama
Alabama nestled in the heart of the Deep South and made famous by US rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd in their 70’s hit “Sweet Home Alabama” offers the epitome of Southern hospitality in a State full of diversity. Rich in history as a result of it’s involvement in the American Civil War and the national Civil Rights movement, it also boasts music legends like Hank Williams and W.C. Handy ‘Father of the Blues’.
This 14 night tour begins and ends in Atlanta, Georgia and celebrates the music on a journey that follows in the footsteps of some of America’s superstars who blazed a trail through the Deep South states of Tennessee and Alabama.
On arrival, overnight in Atlanta which has been home to many influential musicians including Jimi Hendrix, Bobby Brown and Elton John. Explore Underground Atlanta for great food and jazz and visit the King Center, World of Coke or the CNN Center.
Travel north into the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee for your next stop, Chattanooga where you can’t miss Glen Miller’s Chattanooga Choo Choo. Stop at the actual ‘Choo Choo’ and visit Ruby Falls and Lookout Mountain for it’s spectacular views.
Day three sees your arrival in Nashville, home of Country Music and the Grand Ole Opry. Stay for two nights and visit the museum of music giants, the Country Music Hall of Fame followed by some live music in one of many bars and lounges in the District, Nashville’s downtown entertainment area. A cabaret dinner cruise aboard the General Jackson showboat provides another great opportunity to relax and experience the music whilst sailing down the Cumberland River.
Day five takes you along Music Highway (Interstate 40) to Memphis, renowned as the birthplace of rock’n’roll and home of the blues. During your two night stay, Elvis’ mansion Graceland is a ‘must see’ along with Sun Studio and the historic Beale Street where you can party through the night. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Smithsonian’s Rock’n’Soul Museum and the Gibson Guitar are also well worth a visit.
On to the northwest corner of Alabama on Day seven where a cluster of cities – Tuscumbia, Florence, Sheffield and Muscle Shoals line the banks of the Tennessee River. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia showcases the state’s famous music icons and those inducted include WC Handy, Dinah Washington, Jimmie Rodgers, Sam Phillips, Hank Williams , Nat King Cole, Tammy Wynette, The Temptations, Alabama and the Commodores. Exhibits include their costumes, historical anecdotes and the original recording equipment from the Memphis Music Service, home of legendary Sun Records.
During your two night stay in The Shoals region, see some of the most influential recording centres in America. Renowned for their huge contribution to rock, country and R&B music throughout the 60’s and 70’s, Muscle Shoals Sounds Studio and FAME Recording Studio were used frequently by superstars like Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, Paul Simon and Otis Reading who all made classic recordings here. The Fame Studio is still active and open for tours. Take in some great live music at venues throughout Florence, Sheffield and Muscle Shoals - ‘Swampers’ located inside the Marriott Shoals, PJ’s and Fizz to name but a few!
In nearby Florence, legendary figure W C Handy the“Father of the Blues” was born and composed tunes like “St Louis Blues” and “Memphis Blues”. If you are in the area in July be sure to stop by at the W C Handy Music Festival.
On day nine, move on to Huntsville which is home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and also hosts one of the state’s largest music events, the Big Spring Jam every September. Washington Square in the city’s downtown area has a mini entertainment district with live music. Check out some venues which showcase some great Blues, Jazz, Folk and Rock like Crossroads Cafe and the Jazz Factory.
You’d expect your next stop on day ten, Birmingham, home of the Civil Rights Institute which conveys the history of the Civil Rights Movement to also add its own stamp to the music world. It surely does with its famous City Stages Festival every June. This 3- day event features around 150 acts and boasts nine festivals for the price of one!
Throughout the year, Jazz echoes from downtown nightclubs in places like Ona’s Music Room and the Blue Monkey. The Five Points entertainment district has music of all types and some great dining too. Jazz enthusiasts must not miss the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame which pays tribute to great artists with ties to Alabama like Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.
Moving south to the historic port city of Mobile on days 11 and 12 which is one of the oldest cities in America. It’s home to the original Mardi Gras which started in 1703 and is still celebrated every year two weeks before Lent. Mobile features delicious seafood and an array of bars, restaurants and live music venues which is what you would expect from Jimmy Buffet’s hometown. The Lo Da Enterntainment District has over 20 establishments with live music on different nights of the week. If you’re visiting in the Fall, you’ll be lucky enough to see the city’s 3 day BayFest Music Festival. This has jazz as it’s main ingredient but there is continuous music for every taste.
During your two night stay, take a trip a few miles down the road to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach which provide 32 miles of pristine white sandy beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. Live bands perform at beachfront bars like the Florabama, Pink Pony Pub and The Hangout. LuLu’s at Homeport Marina known as Jimmy Buffett’s Sister’s Place is also great for local bands. The Wharf Ampitheatre, located at the Wharf shopping and dining complex in Orange Beach, has various acts Wednesday through Sunday.
The final two days of the tour are spent in Montgomery, Alabama’s State Capital and the birthplace of both the Civil War and Civil Rights. This is where Hank Williams lived from 1937 to 1948. The Hank Williams Museum documents the life of this Country Music pioneer famous for such classics as “Hey Good Lookin” and “Cold Cold Heart”. Follow the Hank Williams Trail south to Mount Olive where he was born and to Georgiana his boyhood home.The Jubilee Cityfest held here in May is a great fun filled treat for all music lovers but the music is here year round too at venues like 1048 Jazz and Blues, Montgomery Brew Pub and The Olive Room.
14 Night Music Itinerary:
Atlanta 1 night
Chattanooga 1 night
Nashville 2 nights
Memphis 2 nights
Muscle Shoals 2 nights
Huntsville 1 night
Birmingham 1 night
Mobile 2 nights
Montgomery 2 nights