The Live Music Capitals of the United States

There’s nothing quite like a live musical act. You can feel the energy of the band you’re seeing, as well as how the crowd around you is reacting.

No matter how many times you’ve heard a song through your headphones or radio it’s always different live, when the artist infuses their own personal mood for the night into it.

These US cities provide the best spots to catch a live show, from soulful blues to the best in mind-melting rap bars.  

Memphis, TN

If you’re looking at Memphis houses for sale, now you’ll find your fair share of live entertainment in the area thanks to the deep history of music here.

Live music lovers will want to explore the three blocks that make up Beale Street. B.B. King’s Blues Club is the original spot of what is now a franchise, having opened in 1991. You’ll find blues, rock, and soul acts here as well as delicious barbecue and a dance floor. The Rum Boogie Café is another blues and barbecue venue on the block to enjoy.

The Orpheum Theater is a historic venue that hosts touring Broadway productions, Ballet Memphis, concerts, and community events.

If you’re in town in late April you can attend the Beale Street Music Festival, a three-day event with over 60 acts that include everything from hip hop to alt rock.

New Orleans, LA

NOLA is another southern city with deep musical roots that are celebrated daily. Though jazz is the main genre New Orleans is known for, it also celebrates the sounds of blues, rock, soul, and R&B.

Frenchman Street is the hub of live shows. The Spotted Cat is a destination for jazz music lovers, an intimate venue that people all over the world come to visit. Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro has provided visitors regional cooking paired with live jazz for three decades, and Blue Nile provides an eclectic mix of music nightly with a street-facing venue as well as an upstairs area with a balcony.

You can also find a festival to attend year-round: Spring brings the Jazz and Heritage Festival; Essence is a mecca for soul, R&B, and hip hop fans over the Fourth of July weekend;  Voodoo Music + Arts Experience is for the punk and metal crowd; and the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Fest happens in the summer.

New York, NY

The Big Apple is a melting pot: of food, fashion, business, and music. Among the gridded streets you will find a live show to suit your music tastes almost any night of the week.

The Bowery Ballroom is a famed spot that has been named the best club in America by Rolling Stone. It has live shows from music of all genres, and has been host to The White Stripes, Kanye West, Joan Jett, and Radiohead.

Elsewhere in East Williamsburg is a 24,000 square-foot converted warehouse that has live shows and DJs on three stages; Saint Vitus in Greenpoint is a home for heavy metal fans; and Village Vanguard in the West Village has been showcasing jazz talent for 80 years.