Matt’s Musical Journey Through America.

15/06/2018

Last month, I was invited on a trip by Brand USA, along with British Airways and American Airlines. They took us on a multi-centre trip through various parts of the USA, that all had an underlining theme based on “The Great American Musical Journey”.

There were seven itineraries taking place all around the states and they all incorporated music somewhere along the itinerary. I had initially thought that a musical heritage tour in the states would probably be restricted to areas like New Orleans and Memphis, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear that we would actually be exploring the Midwest, which I didn’t know much about. I also didn’t realise how much of a musical influence it had. All the groups from around the states then met up for the grand finale in Nashville!

We started our trip by flying to Detroit which is where the famous Motown record label began.  First up was a cultural stop-off at the Institute of Arts where there’s over 100 galleries!   We then headed onto The Motown Museum, set in the original building where the label started.  Did you know that the assembly line process of the town’s automobile industry was actually the inspiration for how the singers should be trained? They were taken through their training from start to finish just like a production line, in one of the many houses that Motown records bought, all located next door to each other on the same street! It was so inspiring to stand in Studio A right where Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes recorded their world-renowned classics,which are still so popular today, definitely a highlight of the trip.

Heading onto Greenfield Village we had a great time in the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation -  I would highly recommend spending a day there, it’s huge and features hundreds of different cars, planes and trains from past and present. Afterwards we had a well-deserved beer tasting stop at the Eastern Market Brewing Company, where we sampled just a few of the local beers.

The next day we travelled on to Port Clinton and took a ferry ride across Lake Erie to the island of Put-in-Bay. This would be a great day out in the summer but due to the lake being a little choppy and the weather not being too great, it wasn’t my favourite ferry ride... but we made it in one piece and it was all fun!


  The following day we headed onto Cleveland, which after its decline in the 1980’s, has had a renaissance and feels like a friendly, safe, clean city with great restaurants and fantastic sports events. The musical highlight in Cleveland was the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, dedicated not just to rock music but all types of genres.  It was here in Cleveland in the 1950s that disc jockey Alan Freed coined the term “rock and roll” to describe a new type of music that he helped promote on the radio.  The museum was fantastic, and I could have spent ages there. It includes all different types of memorabilia and collections, including things like Michael Jackson Glittery Glove and some of Elvis’s jumpsuits!  For eating out, my favourite place in Cleveland was Mabel’s with its incredible selection of BBQ meat. We had a huge meat platter of ribs, chicken and steaks. I certainly had the meat sweats afterwards and it’s definitely not the best choice for vegetarians, but I really enjoyed it!  We also visited several more places of interest in the city including the Botanical Gardens, markets, the Arts District and the History Centre, so there’s definitely something for everyone.


Next on our itinerary was the world-famous Niagara Falls - if you’re in the Midwest you need to make a visit and Buffalo makes an ideal base, as its only half an hour from the Falls and there’s a lot more going on than Niagara itself.  In fact, this is where Buffalo Wings were invented (I didn’t ’t know that until we were there, although I did think buffalos didn’t have wings ??) and you can even do a ‘Wings Trail’ to sample them at restaurants around the city, which is a great way to do a glamorised bar crawl and get your bearings too.

There are lots of great ways of seeing the Falls, all are equally as dramatic. You can either just go to the falls and view it from the many platforms or you can take The Maid of the Mist boat tour which takes you right to the base of the Falls and through the crashing waters, be warned you do get soaked but you don’t mind due to the unreal surroundings! The final and most expensive way would be to take a helicopter tour right over the falls.

After our boat adventure we headed for a Wine and Beer tasting experience at Americana Vineyards, and then onto the Taughannock Falls in Ithaca which is another waterfall that’s actually 3 stories taller than Niagara Falls and is absolutely stunning. You don’t need to pre-book this, you can just drive to it and stay a night in Ithaca which has some beautiful natural scenery and a selection of restaurants shops and bars. It’s located on the Finger Lakes, which are lakes that on a map look like fingers, hence the name!

  


The next day we flew from Buffalo to Nashville to meet up with the other 6 groups and enjoy our final stop!  There is just so much going on in “Music City” that I would recommend staying 2-3 days, so you can get a good look at what the city has to offer.  We headed out to Broadway which is the main street in the centre of Nashville for some Country-style partying and enjoyed a few drinks at the many roof top bars along the Honky Tonk Strip.  Nashville also has great theatres including the Grand Ole Prey which is world famous music venue, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Johnny Cash Museum and of course the famous RCA Studio B where Elvis recorded over 260 songs (he recorded more songs here that any other studio!) and also buzzing Arts scene. Make sure to put these on your list of to do’s if you’re visiting Nashville - they are unmissable!

With bar after bar playing live music you can’t help but have a good time in the ‘Music City’ and when you want to eat, head one of the popular BBQ Joints, there are plenty of them!

  


This was a fun filled trip, which gives you the opportunity to be as busy or as relaxed as you like, as there are so many things to take in and see but at the same time you can do them at your own pace.  It was a great combination of Midwest and South, musical heritage, lakes and falls, city and nature and I would highly recommend it.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to Brand USA for a superb trip and to British Airways and American Airlines for sorting out all the flights, thank you!

If you’d like any more information on the places visited or have any questions about the itinerary feel free to get in touch and I can gladly assist.

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