Rhode Island Rhythm & Roots Festival.Randall PhotographyBy Josephine Matyas

Whether following an official music trail or settling into a lawn chair at an outdoor music festival, listening to tunes is a hot attraction for many leisure travellers. Music tourism is alive and well – you can sell it with a focus on the enjoyment of experiencing new and interesting cultures. Below are a few samples of special events that appeal to the music lover!

All That Jazz
Alabama, a state widely known for its rich musical heritage, is celebrating the Year of Alabama Music in 2011. There are more than 200 festivals including 50 “must attend” events that explore every genre of music. Some honour Alabama’s music legends – like the Hank Williams Festival and the 30th annual W.C. Handy Music Festival. There are too many to list, but details can be found in the state’s music brochure, 100 Places To Hear Live Music in Alabama, and at www.yearofalabamamusic.com

In Florida, the Clearwater Jazz Holiday is a major international gathering of the great talents and enthusiastic fans of jazz. The free, four-day event, held October 13 to 16, features world-class players against the backdrop of warm breezes, brilliant sunsets and one of the world’s greatest beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. www.clearwaterjazz.com

Louisiana is home to one of the country’s greatest music cities, New Orleans. The 28th annual French Quarter Festival is billed as the largest free music festival in the South. Highlights include the World’s Largest Jazz Brunch, and more than 275 hours of music by over 800 local musicians across 18 stages throughout the historic French Quarter. Genres include traditional and contemporary jazz, rhythm and blues, New Orleans funk, Zydeco, brass bands, folk, opera and gospel. April 7 to 10, www.fqfi.org

Soul City
In Michigan, Detroit is the home of Motown – a style of music that put artists like Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, Supremes, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye on the international music scene. Fans can tour the Motown Historical Museum, home of the world-famous Studio A, where the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and countless others recorded with the Funk Brothers. www.motownmuseum.org

The city also exported world-class musicians to other genres like jazz, blues, gospel, rock and hip-hop, celebrated in many festivals. On Labour Day weekend, thousands of jazz aficionados take to the downtown streets to enjoy the world’s best at the Detroit International Jazz Festival, one of the largest free jazz festivals in the world. www.visitdetroit.com/jazz

Beethoven & The Blues
The Minnesota Beethoven Festival is a showcase of tremendous local talent (including the Minnesota Orchestra) plus international concert artists. June 26 to July 17, www.mnbeethovenfestival.org

Duluth, Minnesota hosts the Bayfront Blues Festival, one of the region’s largest outdoor musical festivals, with more than 30 performances on two concert stages. After the sun goes down, local clubs feature more live blues acts. August 12 to 14, www.bayfrontblues.com

Happy Trails
The new Mississippi Country Music Trail is barely a year old. The landmark-based trail celebrates the state’s rich heritage of country music legends. www.VisitMissippi.org

There’s also the Mississippi Blues Trail, where legends of the blues are honoured at more than 100 markers that tell stories through words and images of musicians and how the places where they lived and the times in which they existed influenced their music. www.msbluestrail.com

Pickathon & Jazz Party
Oregon is packed with wall-to-wall music festivals. The Pickathon Indie Roots Music Festival (August 5 to 7) is the original indie-roots music event with more than 40 musical acts representing all manner of Americana. www.pickathon.com

The Medford Jazz Festival (October 7 to 9) is billed as “the best party of the year”, with three days of Dixieland, Zydeco, Swing, Jump-Jive, Big Band and Latin jazz fusions. A dedicated dancing site features free professional dance lessons, exhibitions and dance contests. www.medfordjazz.org

Jazz at Newport (September 30 to October 2) follows a sort of jazz party format rather than strict concert performances. Eight weekend events, from knockout music sessions to Sunday’s Jazz Brunch and Big Band Bash, mix renowned jazz artists with regional performers. www.jazzatnewport.org

Rhythm & Roots
Rhode Island shows its spicy side with the annual Labour Day weekend Rhythm and Roots Festival, a singing, dancing and gastronomic send off to summer. Music acts range from Zydeco and Cajun to New Orleans R&B, Swing, Americana, folk and roots music. www.rhythmandroots.com

To find out more about the Discover America - Canada Committee, attend a meeting or receive the bi-monthly newsletter, contact them by fax at (416) 352-5567, by e-mail at admin@seeamerica.ca or visit www.discoveramericacanada.org

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