The scale of Alabama's music venues corresponds with its inhabitants' demand for music. Vast though they may be, Alabama's outdoor auditoriums evoke that feeling of togetherness that makes live listening so profound.
Situated in Pelham, just a few miles south of Birmingham, Oak Mountain is the state's largest outdoor music venue. Three tiers of seating make this 10,000-person space feel strangely intimate. The venue has hosted some of the biggest names in music, from Dave Matthews to John Mayer. Oak Mountain is best visited alongside the Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham, which celebrates local artists from Taylor Hicks to Ruben Studdard.
Minutes from the University of Alabama campus, this venue's acts have included Kenny Chesney and Uncle Kracker. The venue, nestled next to the Black Warrior River, picnic areas, and pavilions, is connected with the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk.
Every May, this state park is transformed into the venue for the Southern Appalachian Dulcimer Festival. Drawing crowds from across the state and beyond, the outdoor event blends the dulcet sounds of the historic string instrument with the heritage of the park, with memorable results.
Alabama caters to all kinds of rock 'n' roll fans. Sonic temples dedicated to sponsoring up-and-coming bands brush up against amphitheaters that play host to rock royalty.
Birmingham's premier music venue combines vegetarian cuisine with rock music. Bottletree's success can be traced to its support of local and touring bands, along with one of the best sound systems in the state. Indie rock has found a home in this comfortable, Southern Gothic-style venue.
Orange Beach stretches for some 32 miles along the Gulf of Mexico. Plenty of impressive headliners wash up here at a variety of beachside bars and venues. Among them, the Wharf Amphitheater is especially noted for its rock acts, hosting performers from around the world nearly every night.
This vast complex in Birmingham has an arena with a capacity of 19,000, hosting sports along with <em>American Idol</em> and regular rock concerts. A smaller concert hall and theater are the scene of dramatic and operatic performances, should you wish for a musical mash-up.
If you're on the hunt for new music, you've come to the right state. Countless world-class performers started here, and many of the first venues that hosted them are still going strong. Here's where to go to be in the know.
Mobile's intimate venue is a hub for singer-songwriters in the region, featuring musical artists from a variety of genres, including classical. What's more, Mobile is the hometown of Jimmy Buffett, so fans can dream of the legend's early days while sampling the Listening Room's broad beer collection. While away hours discovering edgy new acts.
A Sacred Harp singing festival takes place annually at Burritt on the Mountain Mansion and Historical Park. This spectacular setting is in tune with this profoundly American musical tradition. Independent of any religious affiliation, the genre was born out of colonial singing schools and continues to find contemporary relevance in this special location each year.
With a history that stretches back to the Roaring 20s, the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham is one of the top new music venues in the state. Recently restored to its full aureate glory, organ chambers and all, the theater hosts over 300 events a year. The venue is a state landmark, hosting the Mickey Mouse Club and Miss Alabama pageants in the course of its illustrious half-century history. It's impossible not to be transported by the historic setting and pin-drop acoustics.
The zeal of the younger generation for the traditional music of the state is palpable at the yearly Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention hosted here. The festival draws crowds of thousands with its talented throng of traditional musicians playing an eclectic panoply of instruments. Hear the bluegrass banjo jamming with the mandolin and harmonica, and take part in some buck dancing while you're at it.