From jazz to blues, ragtime to outlaw rock, Missouri’s musical make-up is both wide-ranging and influential.
Chuck Berry, Sheryl Crow and Nelly – all performers from Missouri. The state’s central location in the U.S. creates a confluence of cultures, styles and contributions from all over the country. Check out jazz in Kansas City, deep blues in St. Louis and live music in Branson to get a taste of Missouri’s rich musical traditions.
Kansas City: Jazz Kingdom
Kansas City (KC) became a hotbed of musical innovation in the 1920s and ‘30s. All-night improvisational jam sessions and a competitive musical spirit shaped the Kansas City jazz sound, giving rise to legends such as Charlie Parker and Count Basie. Listen to the Kansas City jazz sound at the retro-cool Green Lady Lounge, popular for its seven-nights-a-week, jazz-and-only-jazz musical lineup – and there’s no cover charge. At The Phoenix, check out the Saturday jazz brunch or a Tuesday night open jam session for an authentic KC jazz experience. Be sure to visit the American Jazz Museum when there’s a live performance in the Blue Room. Its location at 18th Street and Vine is the historical birthplace of Kansas City jazz.
Visiting Kansas City’s historic jazz district at 18th Street and Vine
St. Louis: Home of the Blues
Although blues music was born in the Deep South, it intermingled and evolved as musicians moved northward. In St. Louis, songwriter W.C. Handy is credited with giving the city its association with blues music when he penned the tune “St. Louis Blues” in 1914. Explore this rich history at the National Blues Museum in downtown St. Louis; plan your visit to catch a live performance at the on-site music venue. BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups, also downtown, is a great spot for live music. The club is housed in a building dating back to the mid-1800s and serves up legendary live jazz and blues, along with a delicious menu of soups and Southern favorites such as catfish, hushpuppies and Cajun gumbo.
Chuck Berry memorabilia on display at the National Blues Museum
Branson: Live Music Central
The Southern Missouri city of Branson is renowned for its live music halls – many of which are concentrated along Branson’s main drag, Highway 76. Branson Landing, the city’s boardwalk by the Taneycomo lakefront, is a must-visit venue for shopping, dining and a year-round calendar of live performances and events. From Branson Landing, cruise “the Strip,” past music halls and quirky attractions, to the Starlite Theatre. As Branson’s premier live-music venue, the Starlite boasts a variety of musical acts and a state-of-the-art sound system.
Live performance from Voices of Glory at Branson’s Starlite Theatre
Visit Missouri from international destinations by flying into Kansas City International Airport (MCI) servicing the western side of the state, or St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) servicing the eastern side of the state.