27 MAY 2019: Music and Travel – could you find a better partnership? Brand USA took full advantage of the recent edition (the 37th) of Canadian Music Week to strut its stuff and showcase some of its partners at a music and travel media event in Toronto.

Joining Brand USA, with booths at the event, were Visit California, Explore Georgia, Virginia Tourism, Folk Alliance International and Air Canada.

‘Hear the Music, Experience the USA’ was launched earlier this year via social media in Canada, to promote music-themed journeys in 10 cities across the US and highlight the diversity, history and genius behind American music.  Not surprisingly, the US dominates the global music market, representing about one third of the industry’s total recorded music revenue.

The US also hosts a huge number of major music themed events that attract International visitors, including of course, Canadians, who represent the leading source of international visitation to the US.

Brand USA has also launched a streaming video app now available globally on iOS and Android – GoUSATV.  Smartphone users can download it to enjoy travel and music.

At the subsequent press conference Jackie Ennis, senior director of Global Development at Brand USA, introduced the newly appointed regional director, Canada, Colin Skerritt, who stressed the importance Brand USA places on the Canadian market and said music was a key means of interaction, and a great opportunity to “look at our culture and at the same time support Canadian culture and the Canadian music industry.”

He said official data projects an overall increase in travel to the US between 2017 and 2023.

The event wound up with a reception at which the multi-talented R&B/Americana singer/songwriter/piano player/guitarist Kelly Hunt performed. I was not familiar with her music, but having heard her perform that afternoon and downloaded a couple of albums – am only sorry I could not attend her evening performance at the 120 Diner in Toronto, later that evening.

Here’s what some of the partners had to say:


Ally Carlson, account manager for Visit California, talked of the music scene, spots and festivals including such legendary venues as The Fillmore in San Francisco, as famous itself as the artists who have performed there, including Jimi Hendrix and James Brown. Still hosting music and rock bands is the equally famous Troubadour in West Hollywood and Whisky a Go Go, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

Other reminders for Canadians included Coachella, the two-weekend event of music, art and food, the Monterey Jazz Festival featuring over 500 artists, is the longest continuously-running jazz festival in the world, and the Concord Jazz Festival will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. Stagecoach is a country music event also hosted in the Coachella Valley. Visitcalifornia.com  


Leah Ross, the executive director for The Birthplace of Country Music, a non-profit organization located in Virginia advises that contrary to the idea that it is Nashville – Virginia is the official birthplace of country music.

In 1927 the now famous “Bristol Sessions” – known as the “Big Bang” of modern country music, were recorded - later to be called by Johnny Cash, “The most important event in the history of country music.”

They featured the first recordings of both Jimmie Rodgers, “Father of Country Music” who was the first person inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Carter Family now known as “The First Family of Country Music” and also in the Hall of Fame.  The Bristol Sessions launched the careers of these superstar performers, and initiated the commercialization of country music.  In 1998 the United States Congress officially designated Bristol TN/VA as the “Birthplace of Country Music.”

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum (affiliated with the Smithsonian) offers a large space for special exhibits, a performance theatre and the radio station. Exhibits are interactive and feature a number of videos.

The annual Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion festival began in 2001 and generally hosts over 130 bands on 20 stages in downtown Bristol during the third weekend in September. Attendance has grown to approximately 45,000. Among its many accolades the Festival has been named as one of Rolling Stone’s “Top 20 Tours and Festivals.”

Radio Bristol features original programming through recordings and live sessions from the Birthplace of Country Museum and the surrounding region. The Radio Bristol App is available on mobile devices throughout the US and in more than 140 other countries.

Virginia’s booth had a special treat - a “gypsy-Celtic-Americana” group Scythian who entertained both visitors and neighbouring exhibitors, and later that evening performed at Toronto’s  Paddock Tavern.

And - how time flies - the ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. virginia.org   birthplaceofcountrymusic.org   


Aengus Finnan, executive director of the Folk Alliance International spoke of the organization’s representation of a huge array of music genres - Appalachian, Americana, Blues, Bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, Francophone, Global Roots, Indigenous, Latin, Old-Time, Traditional, Singer-Songwriter, Spoken Word, Zydeco and every imaginable fusion – and of its mission to strengthen, and engage the global folk music community through preservation, presentation, and promotion.

FAI’s 32nd conference next year will be held in New Orleans (Jan 22-26) and is there a more appropriate setting than the birthplace of jazz – city where wonderful music can be heard on every street corner and in hundreds of venues large and small?


Lisa Love, division director for the Georgia Department of Economic Development is always informative and entertaining. Georgia, she tells us is home to over 75 music festivals, and Georgia’s music history museums include the Ma Rainey House and Blues Museum, the Otis Redding Mini Museum and The Allman Brothers Band Museum.

Love tells of hearing two young Canadian women musicians at an awards show where they performed B52 numbers in front of two B52 band members and “they killed it.” She subsequently interviewed them on her radio show, Grits Ain't Groceries, the Georgia Music show, where they also performed. Love played a lot of music, “Georgians doing songs by Canadians. We played R.E.M. doing First We Take Manhattan, the great Leonard Cohen song. We played CeeLo Green from Goodie Mob doing Joni Mitchell's The River. We played the great Lizz Wright doing Neil Young's Old Man. We had a blast.”

She invited the two women, now residing in Toronto, to join her and “share some Georgia music, Canadian style” and introduced, “Sarah and Charlotte Command, the Command Sisters.”

The Albert born duo who have recently signed with Universal Music Canada / 21 Entertainment and are preparing to release their debut album, performed a couple of numbers to enthusiastic appreciation.


Jen Savedra

Jen Savedra is the founder and editor of Travel Industry Today with  a long career and considerable experience in various sectors of travel and tourism. She is dedicated to producing a publication that differentiates itself from the pack. One that pulls no punches, and - along with being a forum for news and ideas - is easy to navigate and always fun to read.

Read more from Jen Savedra

comments powered by Disqus