One of FanLabel’s many goals is to introduce you to music you haven’t heard before and to get you listening “outside of your box.” One way to experience music in a fresh way is to break it down by region, as in, what countries, states or cities offer up distinct sounds within the broader genres? You could even refer to these destinations as music hubs.
Some of the obvious ones? Yes, of course, Nashville. And also of course, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. But, there are so many other communities and sounds that qualify as hubs. Here are five of FanLabel’s picks for underrated music cities in the U.S.:
1. Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is of course the “Home of the Blues,” but did you know it is also the birthplace of Rock ‘N’ Roll? The story goes that “Rocket 88,” recorded at the Memphis Recording Service (now known as Sun Studio) was the first ever credited Rock ‘N’ Roll song in 1951. Additionally, it is home to Elvis Presley’s impressive 13.8-acre mansion known as “Graceland.” Several other notable musicians such as B.B. King, Otis Redding and Johnny Cash had strong presences in Memphis. The city also has a dope hip-hop scene.
2. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, which started in the late 19th century or early 20th century. While jazz music isn’t quite as prominent in New Orleans today as it once was, various branches of the genre are still popular. Nowadays, the Big Easy is still known for being a jubilant and expressive city. In fact, many credit New Orleans as an early adopter of funk music as well, with original funk bands such as The Meters calling the city home. Hip-Hop, blues, R&B and Rock ‘N’ Roll are other common genres.
3. Detroit, Michigan
The city that FanLabel calls home has strong musical roots and influences. We have Madonna, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin! Of course, Motown released hit after after hit in the 1960s and 1970s, hence the nickname “Hitsville USA.” The lasting impact of the genre is still prominent today. In the present, superstar artists like Eminem, Big Sean and Jack White, and even newer singers such as Bazzi and Quinn XCII, have cemented Detroit’s place as a music powerhouse — even if the city doesn’t always get the credit it deserves.
4. Portland, Oregon
Portland may be known best for its craft beer, coffee and art, but the music there is no slouch, either. The City of Roses has a rich history of acoustic guitar and indie music, but the music scene in Portland has shifted as of late. Due to several concert venue closures, DIY “House Shows” are becoming increasingly popular private events. While it took a while to get going, the Portland Hip-Hop scene is now starting to thrive as well. Popular bands Everclear and The Decemberists hail from Portland.
5. Provo, Utah
The smallest city on the list is actually a thriving music destination. Rock supergroup Imagine Dragons actually formed in Provo before setting up their base in Las Vegas. Fellow rock bands Neon Trees and The Used are also from the area. Provo boasts several live music venues, including the famous Velour Live Music Gallery. It wasn’t until the last decade or so that Provo has become a music hotspot, but now thousands of people roam the streets for a chance to hear good music.