Music and road trips go together like PB + J. But you know what’s even better than hitting the road accompanied by some amazing tunes? Hitting the road in search of amazing tunes. Enter Jessica Resler and Ruthie Schulder, co-founders of Participation Agency whose collective passion for music have led them across the US looking for America’s most toe tapping-worthy cities. We’re lucky enough to benefit from the miles of asphalt put under their tires, so read on for our country’s top 7 cities worth the trip.
It's no secret that we're obsessed with music - live performances, curating playlists and discovering new artists. Luckily our work with The PA Agency allows us to integrate our passion for music in almost every project we do, including our most recent one called For Those Who Tour. The concept blends together culture and the arts across smaller cities throughout the US, giving us some of the most fun location-scouting we've ever had. Below we present seven cities worth road-tripping to for some incredibly good music.
— Jessica Resler and Ruthie Schulder
1. Asbury Park, New Jersey is super cool beach town just a few hours from New York City with a rich music heritage — there are music festivals, exciting new business and restaurants and tons of concerts. The Stone Pony (913 Ocean Avenue; +1 732 502 0600) is a music club where Bruce Springsteen got his start, and Paramount Theatre (1300 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park; +1 732 897 6500) hosts various concerts throughout the year in a restored 1920s boardwalk landmark. There’s also the Silverball Museum Arcade (1000 Ocean Avenue; +1 732 774-499) full of vintage stores and record shops.
2. El Paso, Texas is bursting with entrepreneurial energy, especially around the music scene. From the Neon Desert festival to the shows at International Bar (114A Mills Ave; +1 915 303 7768) and the bands that hang out post-show at Prickly Elder (916 N Mesa St). El Paso is tons of fun and a major stop for musicians on the road. The city is not only known for its music scene but also it’s proximity to Mexico and Tex-Mex restaurants, like Avila’s (6232 N Mesa; +915 584 3621) and H&H (701 E Yandell Dr; +1 915 533 1144). It's also only 2.5 hours away from Marfa!
3. New Orleans, Louisiana will always be a legendary music city. Go beyond the French Quarter to dig into the bounce scene, and always follow music you hear on the streets — we once followed sounds and ended up in an immersive jazz bar someone had opened in their apartment. New Orleans attracts thousands of tourists with their 10-day Jazz and Heritage Festival every April featuring gospel, blues, rock and Zydeco.
4. Tulsa, Oklahoma is one of the most 'in the know' music cities in the US — from the BOK Center (200 South Denver Ave W) (where Madonna and U2 rehearse for their tours), to the retro vibes at Cain's Ballroom (423 N Main St) and the development of Church Studio (304 S Trenton Ave) — Tulsa is a place that takes its music history seriously and cares about everyone having access to performance. Tulsa has recently been ranking in the top 10 music cities to visit on various lists and you can find a show to attend every night of the week.
5. Missoula, Montana is at the top of our list to check out. It sits between several mountain ranges in the middle of Montana and national forests and has a small population of just over 70,000. We keep hearing how Missoula is one of the coolest emerging music cities in the US, and can't wait to visit. Several venues on our list are Top Hat Lounge (134 W Front St; +1 406 728 9865), The Wilma (131 S Higgins Ave; +1 406 830 4640) and Big Sky Amphitheater (5417 Trumpeter Way; +1 406 549 2777).
6. Seattle, Washington is the OG home to grunge and Sub Pop records — Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana heavily influenced Seattle’s music scene. There are so many creative things happening in music in Seattle and it's all about getting to a downtown loft show as opposed to set venue. As Seattle has changed dramatically, it still keeps an edge for the weird and wonderful music it's known for. Olympia, an hour away, also has a great underground scene.
7. Santa Fe, New Mexico is developing into a vibey, psychedelic scene where the occult like presence of music is a backdrop for a growing conscious new age movement. With all of the newly infused energy going into this city, Santa Fe will no doubt boost some big acts coming out of there quite soon! Santa Fe hosts various music and arts festivals throughout the year such as Santa Fe Bandstand, ART Santa Fe and Music on the Hill (60 College Avenue; +1 410 263 2371) .
about Jessica + Ruthie
The Participation Agency was founded in NYC in 2011 by brand revolutionaries Jessica Resler and Ruthie Schulder. After conceptualizing their original agency model centered on promoting progress through creativity, the duo launched The PA, an experiential agency that breaks the mold by developing platforms and IP for both The PA as well as their clients. Today, The PA works with some of the world's most recognized brands to champion explosive marketing campaigns and defy the trend of conventional pay-for-play opportunities.
The PA's teams across NYC, LA, SF, TX and NJ have won awards for their forward thinking and innovative approach, including a Mashie award for 'Best Use of Instagram' and a CLIO award. They've also been included three times on Inc's Fastest Growing Private Companies for their work with clients including Lyft, Pandora, Tito's, and West Elm. They've produced over the top activations and designed digital campaigns both nationally and internationally, and their projects, including Red Bull Sound Select, Sour Patch Kids “The Patch” and Outpost, are a few examples of The PA's ability to be exceptionally strategic and intentional with their work.
As co-founders, Jessica and Ruthie approach The PA with a true balance of creative and business. As Chief Creative Officer, Jessica applies original thinking to each venture and works within her mission to drive progress through innovation. As one of the marketing industry’s foremost authorities in placemaking, a theme she's also addressed with TED Talks, Jessica has been cited in The New York Times and Adweek for her work in creating one of a kind, sensory experiences that are a pioneering force in experiential and immersive design.
As Chief Executive Officer, Ruthie pioneers The PA's new agency model by intentionally reinventing their strategy and point of view about every two years. Most recently, Ruthie has focused on The PA's premise of bringing cultural projects to tertiary markets. This model is the key behind The PA's latest project called For Those Who Tour, an experiential activation across three US cities - Jersey City, El Paso, and West Hollywood - that seamlessly integrates brands with opportunities for genuine social media exposure. As of 2018, For Those Who Tour has seen over 4.4 million media impressions, over 1,200 band visits, and $3 million in earned media value. This forward thinking approach recognized Ruthie as Inc.’s Millennial CEO Rising Star for her leadership within The PA and innovation within the industry.
In 2018, both Jessica and Ruthie were honored together on AdWeek's Disruptors, a list of 39 women, including those from high-profile companies Twitter, CAA, and Tinder, who are spearheading a revolution across advertising, media, and tech. With an international portfolio of work, Jessica and Ruthie have driven multimillion-dollar campaigns for Fortune 100 companies, tech startups, and US cities themselves, encouraging each to adapt a forward-thinking approach to achieving their goals.
For more information, please visit thisisthepa.com.