For the Traveling Music Student: The Best Ways to Soak Up Local Music

Jordan Manley shares his top 3 tips on how to get the most out of your travels this summer, and any time after that!

Summertime is here, and many of you will be traveling. Some of you will go to camp. Some of you will visit family around the country. Others will travel abroad to remote locations. Regardless of where you’re going, I urge you to “seek out” and “soak up” the local music traditions.


Anthropology (the study of humanity) is one of my favorite hobbies. I’m a drummer by trade, so it’s important for me to understand every drum beat and its influence on the human body. Over my career I’ve developed a habit of researching various rhythmic traditions around the world. Sometimes I arrive in a strange city and learn on-the-go. Other times my consciousness arrives before my body! And I have to seek out musicians to affirm my research.


Here are a few tips to improve your musical knowledge as you travel this summer:


Tip #1: RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION


Dude…you have Google! Don’t be afraid to study up before you head out. I’m sure you google restaurants and other attractions. Why not google the musical traditions of your destination?


I would always consult Wikipedia while traveling. In American cities I search for notable musicians and make playlists to entertain me on the road. Going to New Orleans? Listen to Louis Armstrong and Allen Toussaint. Going to DC? Listen to Chuck Brown and Bad Brains. Visiting Spain? Check out Flamenco music! This is a good exercise to “tap in” to the local culture. It’s also a good way to prepare your ears for the local dialect!


Tip #2: WORD OF MOUTH


In this age of social media and alternative realities, it’s very easy to avoid talking to strangers. However I’ve found that word-of-mouth is still an effective way to navigate a new place. I like to find a trusted local (usually a waitress, bartender, or a tour guide) and ask them about nearby entertainment. These people usually know the best places to hang.


In Europe, most villages have music festivals that run through the entire summer. These events take place in the city center and they’re always free to the public. Usually they include a mix of local folk artists as well as touring bands. Take advantage!


"A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles" - Tim Cahill

Tip #3 - Taking Names


You may not have surplus time to wander and explore. I toured the USA and Europe a few years ago. It’s really cool to show off the list of places you’re visiting; unfortunately I didn’t have time to explore every city because I was on a strict schedule. During these times I would take note of the names I heard.


For example, my wife and I visited Puerto Rico last year for our honeymoon. I asked every uber driver to recommend music. The younger locals suggested Bad Bunny and Daddy Yankee; the older locals suggested Willie Colon and Celia Cruz. I was in no position to see these artists (1) because they were not on tour, and (2) some of these artists have passed away. So I took note of these names and created playlists. When we came back home I had a collection of Puerto Rican music that mentally took me back to the island. A simple yet effective souvenir!



IN CONCLUSION...


I hope this list encourages you to discover new music abroad. It’s sooooo easy to bring your “comfort songs” with you on the road. I challenge you all to leave your “2022 Bangerz Playlist” on the shelf and find something fresh. Soak up the local music, the food, the air, the water… And if you’re staying home this summer, this could be a golden opportunity to research local music! Who are the notable artists from Georgia? Were any of these artists popular during your parents' childhood? Are there any styles of music that originated in your neck of the woods? Music is culture, and culture moves as people move.


As you travel across the highways and oceans, don’t forget to bring your consciousness with you! Find something to connect with and bring it back home with you.


Be safe and stay curious, my friend!