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When people think about music hotspots, few consider Indiana. Frankly, Indiana does not attract as much attention as its neighboring music locales such as Detroit, Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Nashville. Despite its lackluster impression, Indiana has something to offer those who enjoy the experience of a live music performance. Home to some of the world’s most well-known musicians and a forgotten historical hotbed of music innovation, Indiana has a promising future as a music city.

Indiana is home to internationally respected musicians

Artists reminisce about making it big in New York or Nashville or some other critically-acclaimed focal point in the music industry. However, some of the most praised musicians have roots in Indiana. These standout musicians include: Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon), Crystal Gayle, Joshua Bell, The Jackson 5, John Mellencamp, and Axl Rose (Guns N’ Roses).

Some of these musicians praised Indiana for its numerous opportunities to practice on stage in front of live audiences before transitioning to high-pressure, packed stadiums. Other artists resented their beginnings as Hoosiers, and this has had equally notable impacts on their careers. For instance, Guns N’ Roses hotshot Axl Rose hitchhiked to California with an anti-Indiana mindset. Ironically, the famous singer met a fellow Hoosier, Izzy Stradlin, who would come to rhythm guitar in their band. Much of their music was inspired by Indiana, as Axl Rose sang about the authority figures he remembered from back home, high school and legal woes, and the vastly different pace of big city life. Songs like “Out To Get Me” and “Welcome to the Jungle” capture Rose’s frustrations.

The places from which an artist comes influences the way they relate to and understand the world. This manifests in their music. For artists like Axl Rose, this relationship morphed his approach to metal punk fusion by fueling it with an uniquely Indianan experience. What does all of this mean for concert-goers? The next great startup band might be spotted at Indiana’s Hi-Fi, The Vogue, or Radio Radio. Whether these artists are breaking themselves into a performance atmosphere or channeling angst to make sounds, they are worth a listen.

Indiana is a neglected home of music innovation

Few people know that Indiana is the home of bluegrass and the place where jazz style was crafted into what it is today. Although Bill Monroe—the father of bluegrass—was a Kentucky native, he moved to Indiana as a teenager to find better wages; he later settled near Bloomfield after touring around the country, spreading his tangy, acoustic take on classic country.

Beyond the invention of bluegrass, Indiana spurred changes in the jazz genre. Musicians ranging from Wes Montgomery to J.J. Johnson to Freddie Hubbard left their marks. Montgomery’s contributions revamped jazz by introducing a new style of finger-based picking, which produced a smooth, melodic sound. Johnson’s artistry reformed trombone into a lively, invigorating instrumental voice, instead of the slow, droning war instrument it was in the past.

Concert goers today can still hear the influences of these great minds in jazz, country, and bluegrass. With these artists’ prodigies and students still performing and teaching in the community, cities like Indianapolis and Bloomington offer a distinct take on popular genres. For a taste of something old in a new way, or a chance to hear Indiana’s imprint on music history, check out one of these cities' live gigs.

Indiana is still searching for its music identity, promising listeners a chance to experience the excitement of a music revival

Indiana’s lack of notoriety in the music field is largely caused by an absence of uniform image. In recent years, local business magazines have strategized about how to market the incredible talent it posses; with an unusual jazz and country heritage, growing hip-hop and rock communities, and elite classical piano and violin competitions, there is limitless potential. Organizations like The Scene—a weekly public radio show—have tapped into Indiana’s artistry by broadcasting live performances from the best venues around the state, aiming to tell the story of the its music. At the same time, low-key, underground house shows have seen an incredible uptick in the last decade. Intense, exclusive, small-scale shows have ignited via word-of-mouth advertising. For music lovers who crave a chance to enter into the foundation of a reforming music scene, Indiana is a prime spot.