Wanderlust is a magnificent word for a powerful feeling – a strong longing or impulse to travel. But don’t think of “travel” as a synonym for simply moving from point A to point B, because it’s more personal than that. People travel to new or familiar destinations for health, curiosity, work, adventure, sport and to indulge. People travel to grieve, to forget and to remember. They travel to satisfy, excel and to celebrate. Be it a bucket-list trip to Botswana’s Okavango Delta or an overnight trip to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, when we travel, we come back transformed. We’re sharing suggestions on how to experience a particular travel theme close to home and on the other side of the world, so let us ignite your sense of wanderlust and help you define what travel means to you. This month’s theme: MUSIC.
The Weekend Trip: St. Lou-ey Blues
The blues were born in the South – songs from the souls of slaves – as African roots combined with folk music, vaudeville and music hall influences. As the blues spread from rural areas to the cities, the music adopted different characteristics.
The National Blues Museum in St. Louis offers great background from earliest expressions through modern musicians, and traces its influence on rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul and hip-hop. Plus, it offers live performances twice a week on Howlin’ Fridays and Soulful Sundays.
Two of the best blues venues in town are the Broadway Oyster Bar and B.B.’s Jazz and Blues. Both are in historic buildings – which, not so coincidentally, both served at one time as bawdy houses. The menu at the Oyster Bar is more extensive and includes lots of Cajun favorites. So, depending on whether you are guided by your stomach or your ear, check the menus for both and see which artists are appearing. Or stop in at both; they’re quite close to one another.
One of the city’s signature festivals is the Big Muddy Blues Festival over Labor Day weekend. More than two dozen area artists – many nationally known – will perform on seven different stages in LaClede’s Landing by the river. Find info at explorestlouis.com and bigmuddybluesfestival.com.
The Annual Getaway: Grand Ole Nashville
If you have a country-lovin’ bone in your body, a trek to Nashville is a must. And while country is king here, you’ll also find plenty of other genres: rock, blues, jazz and classical music from the Grammy-winning Nashville Symphony.
The first stop has to be the Country Music Hall of Fame. Explore decades of musical history from Appalachian roots to the glitter and glamour of today’s biggest stars. Check out the plaques in the Hall of Fame – including Oklahoma notables – and enjoy the color and sinuous figures in Thomas Hart Benton’s painting, “The Source of Country Music.”
Take the Historic RCA Studio B tour. If you’re lucky, George will be your guide; he lives and breathes music and knows all the inside stories of the stars and recordings that made this place famous. The tour also does a drive-by of other important music landmarks.
The Downtown/SoBro area is alive with music day and night. Honky tonks, eateries and souvenir shops line South Broadway, and sidewalks are crowded with visitors enjoying the strum and twang spilling out of open doors. Museums honoring favorites such as Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Merle Haggard and George Jones draw fans. And tours of the mothership of country – the Ryman Auditorium – are always popular.
The Grand Ole Opry, once a staple of the Ryman, is now part of the Opryland Resort, a megaplex of hotel, convention center, water park, shopping and golf.
One of my favorite stops was the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, showcasing the often-unrecognized musicians and technicians who make the stars’ music even more magical.
Festivals, concerts and other special events happen year-round. Nashville’s signature event is the CMA Fest – a four-day celebration featuring hundreds of artists and over 1,000 musicians on a dozen stages. The biggest concerts at Nissan Stadium require a four-day pass and lots of bucks, but almost everything else is free. CMA Fest is June 6-9 in 2019, its 47th year.
Music City really does have a song in its heart. And the beat goes on. For more information, check out visitmusiccity.com and cmafest.com.
The Bucket List: Ti Amo, Tuscany
For romantics who dream big – and have the bucks to make their dream come true – consider a trip to Tuscany to hear the spectacular Andrea Bocelli in his hometown of Lajatico. Once a year, he appears at the Teatro del Silenzio, an outdoor amphitheater outside the small Tuscan village.
This year’s concerts are July 25 and 27. The first date was sold out by mid-January, so chances of getting tickets for this year are slim – maybe plan now for next year. Chat with Victor Neal at Prime Time Travel in Edmond – he put together a great Italy trip for me. He can do it all for you, from connecting with an organized tour to arranging a custom tour complete with private driver. Or go to the source – Bocelli Farmhouse/Great Italy Tour offers all-inclusive luxury vacation packages and exclusive tours including private wine tastings with the Bocelli family at the Officine Bocelli Restaurant, and visits to the Bocelli family vineyards and Alpemare Beach Club. For more info, visit greatitalytour.com.