Which Music Cities Deserve Sonic Highways 2?

So the news of the Foo Fighters signing on to do another season of Sonic Highways with HBO broke about 2 months ago, which means this is not timely. However, it’s something I’ve been pondering recently since I just saw the Foo Fighters live about a month ago (Dave Grohl guitar throne and all) and binge-watched season one of Sonic Highways.

Grohl hinted at where the second season may or may not take place. It’s not surprising that they’re not giving it away too soon, but I started thinking about where they could go. Leaving aside the speculation that they might do a season across the pond, which 8 North American cities could be featured in season two?

Season one featured the goliaths of American music: New York, LA, and Chicago were obvious choices not only for their music history but also for demographic reasons; they’re the three largest cities in the US. Seattle and DC both have sentimental value for Grohl and company. Austin is the self-proclaimed Live Music Capital of the World. And Nashville and New Orleans also hold their own as cultures steeped in musical tradition.

So where to next? I’ll pick eight or so that I think could/should be featured in season 2, in order from most likely to least likely. Some of these would just be cool to me; others would make sense for the show.

Where to Next? Sonic Highways Season 2

The Probably-Definite Destination

1. Detroit – It’s the Rock City. Kiss… Bob Seger… Alice Cooper… The White Stripes… Kid Rock. That’s not even including its rich history of jazz, blues, R&B, and rap, including the Motown label, Madonna, and Eminem. How could they not go to Detroit?

The It-would-be-an-upset-if-they-didn’t-go-there Cities

2. San Francisco – Clearance Clearwater Revival, Steve Miller Band, Santana, Grateful Dead… San Fran was a hotbed of groovy tunes from the 60’s on. Season one of Sonic Highways also touched on the growing movement of folk rock in San Francisco in this era. They basically set themselves up to explore this city’s music history.

3. Memphis – Memphis may not have been Music City, but many iconic musicians recorded albums or got their starts there: Elvis, Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf. The blues and early rock n’ roll scene alone justifies a trip to western Tennessee.

4. St. Louis – Similar to other northern/Mid-Western cities, St. Louis. has a deep tradition of blues beginning in the early twentieth century, which lead to the rock n’ roll boom of the 50’s-60’s and beyond. St. Louis Blues is even its own subgenre.

5. Boston – There is a long list of bands hailing from the Boston area, especially in the alternative rock, punk, and hardcore arenas.

The High-hopes-low-expectations Cities

6. Toronto/Vancouver – Our brethren to the north have a deep pool of great bands and musicians. Toronto’s notable artists include Rush (one of my favorite bands of all time), Drake, deadmau5, Metric, and the Weeknd. Vancouver, meanwhile, boasts the likes of Heart, as well as a long list of metal and prog rock bands. Toronto is more likely to be included in an eight-city line-up, but it would be cool to see some love for Canadian music.

7. Houston – Houston may be automatically excluded because of its proximity to Austin. But there are some good reasons for Grohl & Co. to visit East Texas. Z.Z. Top made their name in Houston, and Billy Gibbons was heavily featured in interviews for season 1.

8. Baltimore – Charm City has a rich history of blues and doo-wop going back a century. Early stars like Billie Holliday and Chick Webb have given way to pop rock upstarts like SR71, and more recently, Charm City Devils. Baltimore doesn’t have the heavyweights of blues, jazz, or rock like other cities. I just want to see the Foo Fighters visit Baltimore.

The Dark Horse Cities

9. Atlanta – Atlanta would be awesome not for its heavyweight rock stars, but for its long line of artists across genres. The Black Crows, Cee-Lo Green, Andre 3000, T.I., Ludacris, John Mayer, Mastodon, Gladys Knight, and B.o.B. all called Atlanta home. I would love to see at least one episode of Sonic Highways that brings hip-hop and rap into a rock music context. Atlanta may be more likely than Houston and Baltimore, but not in the traditional rock n’ roll sense.

10. Albuquerque – I’ve heard that Albuquerque has a pretty strong underground punk scene, although I’ve never been there myself. It would be cool to see a dark horse city with a  strong underground scene get some national attention.


Those are the cities that come to mind for me for likely/hopeful stops in Sonic Highways season 2. Am I missing any other big-hitters? Are there cool underground/local scenes that I have yet to be introduced to?

Steve D

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