Georgia on my Mind

Hey music lovers-

If you find yourself in The Peach State, don't forget to check out the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. You'll find it in Macon, Georgia, about an hour and a half outside of Atlanta. Why Macon? Good question! While Atlanta may currently be a modern mecca for hip hop and r&b, Macon is where stars like James Brown, Otis Redding, Little Richard, and the Allman Brothers Band began.

I'm Goin' to Jackson

Photo in the Public Domain
The song "Jackson," made famous by Johnny Cash & June Carter never says whether or not they are  referring to Jackson, Mississippi or Jackson, Tennessee, but ask anyone from Mississippi, and they'll claim the song as their own. Why? Because Jackson, MS also calls itself the Birthplace of America's Music, and they certainly have a right to claim it too. Dozens of musicians were born in Mississippi, many of whom got their musical start in Jackson. Today, live music can be heard throughout the city. Top venues include Martins, WC Dons, and Hal & Mal's. Gospel, Country, Blue, Rock: they all have a foundation in Mississippi, and as Jackson is the largest city in the state (and the state capitol), you're sure to find some here.

You'll also find the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame. Admission is free, and the museum itself is located inside the Jackson International Airport.If your plans don't lead you in this direction, or you need to skip the airport, the Hall of Fame's website is a wealth of information, and they offer a Mississippi Blues Map in their online store.

Following is a list of musicians (of varying genres) born in the state of Mississippi, according to the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame. 

Elvis Presley (Tupelo), Glen Ballard (Natchez), Jimmy Buffett (Pascagoula), Ike Turner (Clarksdale)< Jerry Lee Lewis (Nesbit), Mary Wilson (Greenwood), Robert Johnson (Hazlehurst), B. B. King (Itta Bena), Muddy Waters (Rolling Fork), Howlin Wolf (White Station), Tommy Johnson  (Terry), Honey Boy Edwards (Shaw), Faith Hill (Star), Charley Pride (Sledge), Conway Twitty - Friars Point, Tammy Wynette - Tremont, Mose Allison (Tippo), Cassandra Wilson (Jackson), Lance, Bass (Laurel/Clinton), Sam Cooke (Clarksdale), Bo Diddley (McComb), John Lee Hooker (Clarksdale), Junior Parker (Clarksdale).

Standing at the Crossroads

As the American legend goes, Bluesman Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical talents, but where on Earth is the famous crossroads? No one knows for sure, but one can get close.

The most likely area would be the source of the blues in 1920s America, Dockery Plantation. Dockery Plantation's owner allowed employees at his mill to play guitars imported from Mexico during breaks. Among the first crop of musicians: Henry SloanWillie Brown, Tommy Johnson, and Eddie "Son" House, and later Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson.

The plantation was located along the Sunflower River on what is now MS Highway 8 between Cleveland, and Ruleville.   The attached picture shows one of a few crossroads along that stretch of highway, and is very likely to have been a road Johnson would have traveled.


If your journey leads you to search for the infamous crossroads, be sure not to miss the Mississippi Blues Trail that notes markers along the route from deep in the Delta region all the way up to Memphis, TN.

If traveling by air, Memphis will afford you the most travel options, as it is the largest city in this region. See also our tips for traveling to and around Memphis on your music tour.


Don't Forget the Motor City

Detroit means Motown, baby!!!! You get it, right? “Mo(tor) Town. As in Henry Ford. You’d be surprised who doesn’t realize that. Anyway, any music lover absolutely must see The Motor City at least once. The MoTown sound started here, but the city is also home to lots of Gospel (and its Hall of Fame). And let’s not forget KISS wrote their classic Detroit Rock City for this town too.
More recently, Detroit is the birthplace of techno. In the late 1980s, artists Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins created this electronic sound. Seems fitting for a place so rife with engineering. Here are a few tips to get you about on your trip through Detroit.
Your first stop must be- has to be the Motown Museum. Period. 

Next, consider seeing the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Did you know it was here? Well, it is.
And don’t think about missing one of my favorite museums anywhere (and I live in Washington DC- home of the Smithsonian): the Henry Ford Museum. This private collection offers a lot for the music enthusiast. You’re likely to spot a revolutionary war drum (like the one in the famous portrait to the right). Other collections include some of Edison’s earliest recording devices, which would later record and immortalize music. At one point, the museum also hosted over a dozen cars belonging to rock starts (i.e. John Lennon, and Elvis Presley). Be sure to call the museum to see if these music items (and others) are on display.
Suggested Stays:
The Motorcity Casino.
The Leiland Hotel (home to the City Club- the city’s Industrial Music nightclub.


I Wanna Be a Rockstar: Renting a Celebrity Home

So you would like to see what its like to live like a rockstar. Then what would you say if I told you that you (yes, you) could stay in the home of a bonafide world-class musician? Well, now you can... for a price, of course. 
More and more celebrities of all types are renting out their vacation homes when they are aren't being used, and that goes for celebrities of the musical variety too. Here are a few to consider for your next getaway. 

Mick Jagger's home in Mustique has been for rent since the rock star purchased it in 2006. Price upon request. You might even run into Mick's neighbor, Davud Bowie who has a home (not for rent) there.

For a mere $51,000 per night you can sleep at Sir Richard Branson's  Necker Island. In case you didn't know, Sir Richard started Virgin Records. And Virgin Air. And Virgin Mobile. And the forthcoming  Virgin Galactic. Anyway, you'll have 74 acres, a full staff and room for 27 of your best friends. And if you have no friends, surely renting this abode will get you some.

If Branson's Necker Island is too much to bear, try Keith Richard's pad in nearby Turks & Caicos. This beachfront number will cost you a "reasonable" $8107 per night. By comparison, that's chump change.

Meanwhile, Eric Clapton is offering his Standfast Point home for rent in Antigua. This one is my personal favorite. Rates (at the time of this post) went for $50,000 per week. Details on this estate can be found here.

2157a.jpgPrefer your music stars to be in the country world? Then try Randy Travis' two Hawaiian estates. His larger Lahaina Estate, will run you $1250 per night, while the more modest digs will cost $450. Both properties are on Maui. 

And that's how they roll.


Eat to the Beat: New York City

Restaurants come and go in New York. So too do music venues. Here are a few music inspired restaurants that you can count on being around for awhile. 

Music themed decorum.
754 9th Avenue 
New York, NY 10019
Ellen's Stardust Diner
Broadway Inspired Diner. This is a good choice is Grandma is accompanying you. 
1650 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Bluenote Jazz Club
Now offering brunch in this jazz landmark.
131 W. 3rd St
New York, NY 10012

Cafe Wha?
Jimi ate here. Nuff said. 
115 Macdougal (b/w Bleecker and W 3rd)
New York, NY

Cool, edgy vibes in the heart of the indie music scene.
159 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002


Session 73
According to their website, 'music is at the heart of Session 73... Tango and Salsa sets the backdrop early in the week, while more mainstream... and vocalists liven things up as the week moves on.'
1359 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10021 
Hard Rock CafĂ© 
One can count on this chain being designed and set up in a similar fashion to others throughout the US. The burger still rocks, though. 
221 West 57th Street (212) 489-6565 


If You’re Going to San Francisco….

Try a rock-n-roll themed vacation.

The Summer of Love may have been more than thirty years ago, but the peace, love and rock and roll attitude that put her on the musical map is alive and well in the City by the Bay. San Francisco is home to one of the most eclectic, unique, and non-commercial places to find unique contemporary music. If it is variety you seek, San Francisco is the right place.

“Anything goes” is still the order of the day here, especially when San Franciscan’s seek out entertainment. Not only Rock enthusiasts, but also those seeking rock’s roots- namely jazz, the blues; and the contemporary hybrids techno, Asian hip hop will find something here.

Home to millionaires, celebrities and the birthplace of every other do-com, San Francisco remains one of the most expensive cities in the United States. So if budget is a concern, keep this in mind while planning your trip.

The Phoenix Hotel
601 Eddy St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 776-1380
Long known as the choice of rock stars, The Phoenix Hotel is by far the most likely place to spot bands playing the area’s nightspots. The hotel architecture is indicative of the mid-century motel; a two story building with wrap-around balconies overlooking a courtyard complete with kidney bean shaped swimming pool. The staff is very polite, but don’t try to get them to cop to what name-talent are guests. You’d just as soon get a response out of Buckingham Palace Guard. In fact, the best attempts to find out who might be currently registered at the hotel will not yield a result. You’ll just tick them off. Instead of trying to find out who is staying at The Phoenix, just relax by the pool, or at The Whisky Bar, (or is it Back Flip?) knowing that stars such as Anthony Kiedis, David Bowie and Sinead O’Connor have been where you are now. The Phoenix Hotel is located in the city’s urban center, The Tenderloin. As this is not the safest part of the city, be mindful when stepping out into the surrounding neighborhood.

The Hotel Triton
342 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 394-0500
Adjacent to San Francisco’s world-famous landmark Chinatown gates, you will find the Hotel Triton. Here, music lovers have the opportunity to rent a room furnished by a San Francisco rock star. The idea was conceived years ago by hotel staff who enlisted the help of notable music personalities such as Carlos Santana, as well as stay in the Jerry Garcia inspired room. (call the hotel). Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers have already put their personal stamp on rooms of their own.

Hotel Monaco
501 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 292-0100
For those seeking the inspiration of a top musician, but the accoutrement of a four-star hotel, the Hotel Monaco is the perfect choice. Here one can rent the Grace Slick Hotel Suite, inspired and designed by the former Jefferson Airplane/Starship front woman herself.

Hotel Boheme
444 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 433-9111
While the Beat Generation wrote lyrics of the non-musical variety, it’s virtually impossible to ignore its direct influence on Rock n Roll. Lou Reed, Kurt Cobain, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, The Beatles and so many more musicians have called the Beat Movement a source of rebellious inspiration. Rumor even has it that John Lennon added the ‘a’ to the spelling of his band’s name as homage to his idol Jack Kerouac.

With that inspiration in mind, we offer The Hotel Boheme, a truly unique Beat-inspired hotel in the heart of San Francisco’s North Beach district. This quaint 15-room inn was a popular spot with Alan Ginsberg. Its also a few doors down from the historic Beat hangout, Vesuvio.


Red Victorian Bed, Breakfast & Art
1665 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 864-1978
For those looking to satisfy the quintessential San Francisco rock and roll experience, we suggest the Red Victorian Bed, Breakfast & Art B&B. This centrally located Bed and breakfast is not far from the epicenter of hippy culture- Haight Ashbury. Each room is treated with a hippie vibe. Tie die optional.



A few more musician and celebrity dominated hotels to consider. Celeb sightings list below. Oh yeah... I name names!


Hotel Palomar
12 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 348-1111

The “W” Rock Star packages, SF
181 Third Street, San Francisco, 94103
(415) 777-5300
In at the Opera: music themed rooms

The Clift Hotel
495 Geary Street, San Francisco

There’s absolutely nothing kitschy about The Clift. Once the Four Seasons, this upscale hotel with a minimalist lobby is beautiful to say the least. Owned by former Studio 54 honcho Ian Schrader, the hotel is the choice for many celebrities, and musicians alike. The Clift is perhaps best known for its popular lounge, the Redwood Room, which is a celebrity in itself. Upon first glance, the Redwood Room is a sight. Dark Cherry walls create an immediate warmth to the otherwise vacuous room. What appear to be portraits lining the walls are actually LCD screens broadcasting slowly moving images that tell a series of stories.

Originally built in 1915, the Clift has well appointed rooms are a hallmark of The Clift, with child amenities such as Nintendo, cookies and milk and prepubescent bath robes.

Spotted: Alicia keyes, Smashmouth, Madonna, Lauren Hill, Method man

Detroit Rock City

Its known for its music, but just who got their start here? 

Select Artists from Detroit, or got their start here:
John Lee Hooker
The Supremes
Insane Clown Posse
Kid Rock
Aretha Franklin
Wilson Pickett
George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars
Alice Cooper
Marshall Crenshaw
Grand Funk Rail Road
The Knack
Ted Nugent
Iggy Pop & the Stooges
Mitch Ryder
Bob Seger
Don Was (Not Was)
The White Stripes
Juan Atkins
Mike Banks
Carl Craig
Richie Hawkin
Derrick May
Kevin Saunderson
James Carter
Regina Carter
Milt Jackson
Four Tops
Funk Brothers
Jackson 5
James Jamerson
Martha Reeves & the Vandellas
Marvin Gaye
Stevie Wonder
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
The Temptations
Slum Village
Anita Baker
Joe Weaver

San Francisco: Eat to the Beat


Mel’s Diner
For the baby boomer rock lover, Mel’s Drive in will conger up memories of high school, soda jerks serving vanillas malts and teenagers hanging out in a booth. Nothing has changed at mel’s Doner, the inspiration for George Lucas’s “American Graffiniti”. The popular chain dried up in the 60s and 70s, making a huge comeback when the movie opened, Today, visitors can enjoy a simply menu at reasonable prices, commensurate to today’s inflation. . And did we mention the individual jukeboxes at each booth?

Sushi Groove
If you’re looking for a hipper than hip, sushi joint, this is definitely it. The food is great- the DJ is amazing too. Young beautiful, and edgy San Franciscans crowd the tiny space on weekends. If you're bringing mom and dad, or like it a bit sedate yourself, with come early, or skip it altogether.

Ace Wasabi's Rock-n-Roll Sushi:

Ace's is very much like Sushi Groove, except this is the place I might bring the folks. Its a bit less of everything than Sushi Groove: less crowded, less noise, and in some opinions (not mine BTW), less tasty. The pluses? Its location is not as scary as Sushi Groove can be (South of Market in an old warehouse), but in the Marina, so your mom won't be clutching her purse and looking over her shoulder as you walk from the car to the restaurant! Oh yes, and beautiful people are found dining here too- just fewer piercings!

Honorable mention:
Rassela's Jazz Club & Restaurant:
Interesting mix of Ethopian food, a bar, and live jazz.