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Music Tourism Is A Niche Cultural Studies Essay

Many tourists go to musical landmarks for reasons such as pilgrimage, nostalgia, and heritage. People go to places such as Graceland in Memphis, the home of the late Elvis Presley, Liverpool and Abbey Road in the UK to see where the members of the Beatles grew up and where they became famous, or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland to see their favorite rock star’s memorabilia and learn about the history of rock and roll. Music festivals, concerts, and “traveling communities,” such as the Grateful Dead and Phish followers are also a few reasons why music tourism exists.

Sites of music production and of births and deaths which emerged in the latter part of twentieth century are central. (Leaver &Schmidt, 2009) Graceland, the home of the late Elvis Presley, is the perfect reason why people travel for music-related reasons. Elvis was considered to be one of the most important and influential international figures in twentieth century popular culture. He had an eclectic style of music that consisted of pop, country, R&B, and gospel which has challenged and even broke racial barriers of the time which ultimately led to a whole new era of American Music and pop culture. Now people travel from all over the world to visit the home he once lived in. The tour consists of an audio-guided tour of his home which tells stories of him and his daughter Lisa-Marie, a walk-through museum of his favorite cars and one of his jets, and then the final stop of the tour takes guests to where Elvis himself and other members of his family are buried on the property.

Across the pond, Liverpool and London are major locations that music tourists visit to see where members of the Beatles came from, as well as where it made them famous. Liverpool is the area of where Paul McCartney and John Lennon hailed from. Mendips, in Woolton, Liverpool is the home where John Lennon was raised in and 20 Forthlin Road was the street address where Paul McCartney grew up. When the Beatles first came together, this was the home they rehearsed in and also wrote their early songs like ‘Love Me Do,’ and ‘I Saw Her Standing There.’ Abbey Road in London, UK is where Abbey Road Studios is located, which is the place where the Beatles recorded many of their songs. Abbey Road also has the famous crosswalk that the band posed for the cover of their album, which was appropriately titled, ‘Abbey Road.’ Visitors not only love walking through the childhood homes of these artists, but they love being able to walk in the same places and reenact the same poses on Abbey Road and these reasons alone help fuel the spread of music tourism.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio has had over 8 million visitors worldwide, since their opening in 1995. The museum was created to educate visitors about the history and significance of rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in New York City, which recognizes and celebrates those who have made a huge impact of world of rock and roll, were inducted into the hall of fame and this later started the idea of the museum. Some inductees include Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Elvis Presley, Little Richard and many more. The museum houses artifacts and memorabilia from famous inductees and other artists as well as an extensive library of rock and roll history.

Not only do people travel around the world to see the birthplace of an artist, but they travel to see and hear artists play live. Music festivals are in the broadest sense the oldest and most common form of music tourism. (Connell & Gibson, 2005) Many people like to travel to certain music festivals every year to see their favorite artists play or to see new ones, as well as enjoy the aspects such as food and crafts. Well known music festivals include; Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, Lollapalooza, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts was created in 1970 by Michael Eavis and a group of people who wanted to create a festival on his farm in the town with the same name that showcased the blues and progressive music. The festival was created during the hippie era of peace, love and a green planet and even today donates its proceeds towards organizations such as Greenpeace, OxFam and WaterAid. Just like Woodstock, visitors who come to Glastonbury camp out on the grounds of the festival, much like they did during the hippie days, but with a little more modern amenity. The festival has over 50 stages with performers from every genre of music performing in various locations around the grounds. The main stage is the famous Pyramid stage which has been built and re-built 3 times. Today, the festival hosts over 135,00 visitors and is best known for its eclectic selection of artists that perform as well as other areas such as dance, theatre, circus and the discovery of new artists. A few artists that have performed at Glastonbury include; Peter Gabriel, Elvis Costello, Tony Bennett, Jay-Z, Cold Play, U2, and The Cure.

Lollapalooza is a three day annual music festival which started out as a farewell tour that Perry Farrell from Jane’s Addiction created. The small idea, turned into a very large idea that brought music, politics, culture and community to fans all over the world. (Lollapalooza, 2012) The festival was about music and it didn’t matter the genre. Artists like Nine Inch Nails, and Ice-T and even a side show circus ultimately showcased the diversity that this festival could bring. Started in 1991, Lollapalooza was initially a tour that went around North America and in 2003 eventually found a home in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. The festival draws in over 160,000 visitors every year and has now expanded its festival to different parts of the world. Currently there are Lollapalooza festivals in Brazil and Chile and starting next year in 2013, there will be a festival in Israel. Lollapalooza is also famous for putting artists on the map; artists such as Lady Gaga, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, and the Beastie Boys to name a few.

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival or for short, “Jazz Fest,” was created by the New Orleans Hotel Motel Association which then formed the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, who wanted to create and event that showcased their legacy as the birthplace of jazz music. The festival is also dedicated to demonstrating the cultural and historical practices that are unique and special to Louisiana, such as the Cajun culture and Louisiana folklore. The festival is always held on the last weekend of April and the first weekend in May. Some music events even take place in between. According to the their official website, "The Festival celebrates the indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana, so the music encompasses every style associated with the city and the state: blues, R&B, gospel music, Cajun music, zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk music, Latin, rock, rap music, country music, bluegrass and everything in between. And of course there is lots of jazz, both contemporary and traditional." The festival is known for its arts and crafts but known especially, for their food. The food vendors at Jazz Fest are not your typical carnival food vendors. In fact, they go through an intense screening process, making sure that the vendors are using fresh local food as well as practicing quality and sanitary food handling practices. The festival hosts between 450,000 to 600,000 visitors annually $300 million dollars a year and rivals against local events like Mardi Gras. The first Jazz Fest lineup consisted of artists such as Mahalia Jackson and Duke Ellington. This year the festival had artists such as, the Eagles, Tom petty and the Heartbreakers, Foo Fighters, Ne-Yo and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Music symposiums and expos are created to educate visitors about the history of music and introduce new facets in the music industry, which ultimately ties into the increase of tourism in a particular area. WOMEX-The World Music Expo, is the largest music expo in the world, and is known for promoting music and culture from all over the world. The rich musical history behind landmarks also leads to the study of music tourism and what draws the public to these locations. This allows locations to feel a sense of place and allows for people to connect with not only the music, but the place where it originated from.

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