America’s Musical Roots: Chicago, St. Louis & K.C. by Train

Walk in the footsteps of jazz and blues greats as you explore the musical heritage of these three Midwestern cities in museums, historic neighborhoods and legendary clubs.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23444RJ
8 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Let the melodies of the Midwest fill your soul as music history comes alive on a train journey from Chicago to St. Louis and Kansas City. You can almost hear Louis Armstrong’s trumpeting tunes as you stroll through Bronzeville on Chicago’s south side, signaling the neighborhood’s 20th century renaissance. Or hear the hands of Joplin’s ragtime refrains on a walk through the pianist’s turn-of-the-century home. But you don’t have to imagine the blues and jazz tunes that echo through these Midwestern cities—the blues and jazz come alive at night as you take in live performances at historic venues where legends once played. Combined with museum visits and fascinating lectures by local experts, you’ll walk away from this week with deeper understanding of the history and influence of jazz and the blues.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Learn how the Great Migration brought the Delta blues to the city, earning it the name “the birthplace of the modern blues.”
  • In St. Louis, visit the Scott Joplin house to find out about the life of the legendary ragtime composer and pianist, and swing by the National Blues Museum for some learning and live music.
  • Study the legacies of musicians like Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music
by George E. Lewis
A member of the AACM since a teenager, George E. Lewis recounts its vibrant hsitory, bringing key players to life and exploring the development of the organization throughout generations.
Exploring Chicago Blues: Inside the Scene, Past and Present
by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates
Chicago is a famous city shaped by many factors, such as the blues history. Blues music can be found anywhere in Chicago, it can be heard in restaurants, department stores and even on the streets. Rosalind Cummings-Yeates delves into this history, covering many influential figures like Muddy Waters. She goes on to bring the contemporary blues scene to the forefront in this popular seller.
DownBeat - The Great Jazz Interviews (A 75th Anniversary Anthology)
by Frank Alkyer
This anthology from the DownBeat archives includes photographs and interviews with "every great jazz artist and personality that ever lived", from early influencers to unique voices.

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