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Although Ohio is known for its cornfields and small towns, several small and mid-sized cities make up this part of America’s rustbelt. Grab some buckeyes and get ready to drive. Ohio’s many music communities are loaded with impressive talent and undeniable history, making it an ideal stop for wholesome music lovers.

Ohio has an abundance of music hubs within its borders

Unlike states defined with one major music brain binding the state’s musical output, Ohio is filled with music nooks and crannies developing their own brand of creative expression. These places include Cleveland, Columbus, Akron, Cincinnati, Athens, Dayton, and Toledo. Ohioan cities like Columbus are among the fastest growing the nation; these population influxes and invigorated interest in community life means that fans pack into performance spaces every night of the week. In other areas like Akron, DIY home shows and impromptu shows mean that the music landscape is propagated by underground initiatives. Every Ohioan city has a different relationship with its music and artistry. So, for listeners who want to find pockets of sound wherever they go in a state, Ohio is a must-see place.

Ohio is home to several institutions devoted to the preservation of music history and music culture

Most major cities have some presence in education via museums, libraries, and associations. Ohio happens to have several fantastic facilities focused on sound. These places include the Cleveland Museum of Art, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Polka Hall of Fame, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Columbus Museum of Art, American Classical Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and Verdin Bell and Clock Museum. Listeners who love to learn and geek out will be at home. The best part? Some of these places feature live performances from time to time. Subscribe to their mail and email lists to be in the know.

The most notable of musical museums in Ohio is probably the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. In September 2018 alone, they have at least three days devoted to free live concerts as a part of their Rock Hall Live event series. These events typically feature a trifecta of entertainment: food trucks, a beer garden, and rock and roll. In addition, this museum regularly has its iconic members perform. On September 15, 2018, the inductee singer-songwriter John Oates (of Hall and Oates) will perform. Listeners who are curious about music history and eager to support music conservation will love this spot.

Ohio’s artistry is as admirable as ever

Ultimately, when it comes to live concerts, listeners want good sounds. Sure, theatrics can woo, drink quality can please, and atmosphere can seal the deal, but if the music is not good, it is time to go home. Luckily, Ohio is pretty solid when it comes to delivering good sounds.

The sexy sultry rock of The Black Keys, the heavy grunge-rock-metal of David Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana, The Crooked Vultures), the alternative pop-punk of Scott Shriner (Weezer), the island-inspired pop of Al Jardine (The Beach Boys), the indie noise pop of Kim Deal (Pixies), the classic rock of Tom Scholz (Boston), the new wave punk of Devo, the classic easy listening of Dean Martin, the palatable country of the Rascal Flatts, the pop charm of Doris Day, the modern alternative hip-hop of Kid Cudi, the indie-pop-rock-new wave jams of Walk the Moon, and the contemporary R&B-soul-pop hybrid of John Legend are just a handful of the many national and international stars who have roots in Ohio.

Who is making an impact in Ohio’s music market today? Bad Veins has been on the scene since 2007 with their alternative and indie rock creations. Cloud Nothings has been performing since 2009 with music in the wheelhouse of post-punk, noise rock, indie rock, and post-hardcore. Nick Tolford and Company is feel-good blues, Motown, and dance music. Old Hundred is one of many circa 2010s bands bringing folk to the forefront; their style has artsy and indie elements.

Local websites such as CleveScene regularly feature must-see concerts, great live shows, and cool interviews. Their recent Band of the Week column recommends Mr. Carnivore, Superchunk, Racket Man, Cory Grinder Band, Tacocat, and Lauren Sanderson.

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