The Deep South is synonymous with Jazz and Blues, and Alabama in particular has a wealth of musical offerings for the musically-minded traveler. On this short trip, we’ll introduce you to a soulful world whose charm stems largely from the legacies of many a revered musician. From Montgomery, the birth place of Big Mama Thornton and Nat King Cole, to Birmingham, home to the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame; this is a journey that’ll take your musical knowledge to the next level.
THE MONTGOMERY MUSIC SCENE
You can’t come to Montgomery and miss out on a visit to the Rosa Parks Museum, so important is the Civil Rights movement to the city, so we’ll ensure we make room for this in your itinerary. But the main focus of your time here will, of course, be the music scene. As night falls, jazz calls. First, dine on some authentic Southern cuisine at Sinclair’s before heading over to the Alley Entertainment District for a night of music. Our favorite spot is the after-hours subway soul and jazz club Sous La Terre. As you descend the steps to this hidden gem you’ll enter a world of moody music and true Deep South charm.
THE JAZZ HALL OF FAME
Drive up to Birmingham and head straight for the Jazz Hall of Fame, where you’ll learn all about Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton to name just a few. It’s a fascinating place that really brings to life the beauty of Birmingham’s deep ties to music. The city has nurtured the talents of many an incredible musician, including several members of The Temptations. Sam Lay, the legendary blues drummer was born here as were blues pianist Walter Roland and Sun Ra. It won’t be long before you start thinking there must be something in the water here to produce such astounding creativity. When you’ve finally finished your jazz education, take time to wander the tree lined streets of this pretty city, stopping at the numerous boutiques as you go.
As night falls, the city comes to life with live music and buzzing food venues. Head to The Five Points entertainment district and take your pick of authentic Southern restaurant before going straight to the renowned Blue Monkey. A sophisticated take on the sultry jazz club, here you’ll enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, winning cocktails and soothing live music. If you’re visiting over the weekend, Gip’s Place is an incredible spot to spend a Saturday night. Located in the backyard of Henry Gipson’s home, for more than 50 years this spot has welcomed the very best musicians, and as there’s no precise schedule, you’ll get to experience the excitement of not knowing who you’ll be seeing next.
THE FINAL FORAY
Your final stop on this musical Alabama journey is The Shoals region of Alabama. Start in Muscle Shoals, a place best known for the Muscle Shoals Sounds Studio and the FAME recording studio, both of which saw the likes of Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones making music within their walls. Then, it’ll be time to see what Tuscumbia’s Alabama Music Hall of Fame has to offer. Home to the costumes and anecdotes of The Temptations, The Commodores, Dinah Washington and Nat King Cole to name a few; your last stop in Alabama will no doubt be an inspiring one.