2021’s Best Cities for Country Music Fans

Woman in cowboy hat and crowd enjoying live country music show

Country music ain’t just about the sound — it’s also about the all-too-relatable stories: your damnedest dog Ol’ Red, that time you slashed your boyfriend’s tires for flirting with a bleach-blond tramp, or fishing to forget how much you miss your wife (the one you left). Chances are someone with a guitar and a Southern twang already crooned about it.

But if you wanna follow Tim McGraw’s advice and live like you were dying, then hop in that truck and make your way to one of 2021’s Best Cities for Country Music Fans.

LawnStarter ranked over 180 of the biggest U.S. cities across five key factors that make up a strong country music scene. In each city, we looked at the number of country radio stations, concerts, and performance venues. We also gauged the size of the local fandom based on Google search trends and availability of museums dedicated to the genre.

Check out our ranking below, followed by some highlights, lowlights, and expert insights on the present and future of country music.

No plans this Friday, Sept. 17? Celebrate International Country Music Day by throwing back some beers at your local honky tonk (or dive bar with a jukebox) with your boot-wearin’ buddies.

Table of Contents

  1. City Rankings
  2. Highlights and Lowlights
  3. Methodology

City Rankings 

See how each city fared in our ranking:

OVERALL RANKCityOverall ScoreGenre Interest RankVenue Access RankPerformance Access RankEveryday Listening Rank
1Nashville, TN77.1311921
2Las Vegas, NV45.96139109132
3St. Louis, MO35.851465845
4Salt Lake City, UT35.2014118332
5Grand Rapids, MI33.899830811
6Knoxville, TN31.59273565
7Tulsa, OK31.4928611411
8Birmingham, AL31.406372911
9Atlanta, GA30.85369665
10Denver, CO30.406822311
11San Antonio, TX30.23591551221
12Austin, TX30.043763211
13Lubbock, TX29.3589153433
14Alexandria, VA29.2210567108
15Eugene, OR28.9290272111
16Portland, OR28.6650532411
17Pittsburgh, PA28.34145341211
18Jackson, MS27.4811371165
19Colorado Springs, CO27.26871061023
20Oklahoma City, OK27.1446116685
21Seattle, WA26.8330591832
22Tallahassee, FL26.7828921035
23Jersey City, NJ26.711251129108
24Bellevue, WA25.83302133108
25Spokane, WA25.5259873311
26Des Moines, IA24.78146851511
27Montgomery, AL24.7486110765
28Minneapolis, MN24.08141251632
29Springfield, MO24.07119524011
30Cincinnati, OH24.02124292232
31Wichita, KS23.90121137411
32Savannah, GA23.4387201365
33Little Rock, AR23.3682715911
34Orlando, FL22.8946474932
35Lakewood, CO22.6563133108
36Buffalo, NY22.26119233732
37Sioux Falls, SD22.141051071732
38Lexington, KY21.80153102645
39Kansas City, MO21.7790911065
40Huntsville, AL21.7250392565
41Detroit, MI21.63331194632
42Rochester, NY21.60148226911
43Tucson, AZ21.3990847011
44Glendale, CA21.30124133108
45Albuquerque, NM20.98671188011
46Macon, GA20.9515962955
47Boise, ID20.90162602032
48Reno, NV20.5967645432
49Phoenix, AZ20.23101547532
49Raleigh, NC20.2376814732
51Cleveland, OH20.2145782865
52Fort Collins, CO20.16162422632
53Mobile, AL19.8763313965
54New Orleans, LA19.8463413165
55Springfield, MA19.76125709611
56Fort Worth, TX19.441051323032
57Thornton, CO19.33610133108
58Baton Rouge, LA19.04137464832
59Tempe, AZ18.93348121108
60Charlotte, NC18.62761215832
61Bakersfield, CA18.531361467311
62Chattanooga, TN18.5290363665
63Columbus, OH18.431191403432
64Dayton, OH18.1276266365
64Pasadena, CA18.12129133108
66Vancouver, WA17.90507133108
67Greensboro, NC17.881251284232
67Metairie, LA17.88635133108
69Sacramento, CA17.831531226011
70Memphis, TN17.80581019732
71Newark, NJ17.741251113065
72Tampa, FL17.42981305632
73Omaha, NE17.371511042932
74Boston, MA17.3262555765
75Kansas City, KS17.30901213365
76Syracuse, NY17.11133956532
77Tacoma, WA16.55305110665
78Chandler, AZ16.28345011365
79Augusta, GA16.261521258211
80Amarillo, TX16.211341585032
81Madison, WI15.88162381965
82Scottsdale, AZ15.453413128108
83Winston-Salem, NC15.3716212911211
84Washington, DC15.161051174165
85St. Paul, MN15.05141149465
86Lincoln, NE14.694610338108
87Mesa, AZ14.66348612765
88Fayetteville, NC14.647616112632
89Garden Grove, CA14.551217133108
90Louisville, KY14.37119935565
90Glendale, AZ14.37342898108
92Providence, RI14.14823552108
93San Diego, CA14.12411449265
94Chula Vista, CA13.824133100108
95Shreveport, LA13.795012310465
96Aurora, CO13.73640133108
97Milwaukee, WI13.711531002765
98Honolulu, HI13.631381488832
99Los Angeles, CA13.431217011665
100Chicago, IL13.28541458365
101Orange, CA13.251232133108
101Toledo, OH13.251481497132
103Baltimore, MD13.18761049965
104Columbus, GA13.1713413912432
105Houston, TX13.15591677765
106Jacksonville, FL13.11491758765
107Santa Clarita, CA12.801216313365
108Murfreesboro, TN12.77575133108
109Fort Lauderdale, FL12.74986345108
110Irvine, CA12.53129086108
111Oakland, CA12.506721114108
112Huntington Beach, CA12.401243133108
113Salem, OR12.37125897965
114Philadelphia, PA12.341051347265
115Fullerton, CA12.331245133108
116San Francisco, CA12.26677462108
117Santa Ana, CA12.241266119108
118Irving, TX11.9610516110108
119McAllen, TX11.901621339032
120Joliet, IL11.875411566108
121Anaheim, CA11.811212089108
122Newport News, VA11.58849613365
123Peoria, AZ11.493456133108
124Sunnyvale, CA11.466724133108
125Overland Park, KS11.429015133108
126St. Petersburg, FL11.38987713365
127Arlington, TX11.3710513835108
128Fresno, CA11.281531569332
129Anchorage, AK11.2714115213332
130Santa Rosa, CA11.171621274465
131Akron, OH11.11676583108
132Miami, FL11.019810813265
133Pomona, CA10.851288133108
134Naperville, IL10.795443133108
135Indianapolis, IN10.711199951108
136San Jose, CA10.446716813365
137Long Beach, CA10.4212112133108
138Modesto, CA10.3215317610632
139Durham, NC9.797612478108
140Midland, TX9.711621306165
141Grand Prairie, TX9.6910548105108
142Aurora, IL9.645497125108
143Stockton, CA9.3415318113132
144Dallas, TX9.2610513666108
145Henderson, NV9.2513912611765
146Chesapeake, VA9.148480110108
147Palmdale, CA9.1212160133108
148Escondido, CA9.1141137133108
149Lancaster, CA9.1012162133108
150New York, NY8.5612516953108
151Garland, TX8.4710549133108
152Oceanside, CA8.4241166133108
153Gilbert, AZ8.4134173133108
154Plano, TX8.2810554133108
155Hollywood, FL7.989868133108
156Corpus Christi, TX7.361611508165
157Yonkers, NY7.3012567133108
158Rockford, IL7.229017191108
159Frisco, TX7.1010594133108
160McKinney, TX6.79105111133108
161San Bernardino, CA6.7316214310865
162Paterson, NJ6.7212583133108
163Fremont, CA6.4367177133108
164Hayward, CA6.3367179133108
165Olathe, KS6.3190141133108
166El Paso, TX6.1715917212065
167Laredo, TX5.8915018013365
168Pembroke Pines, FL5.6198165133108
169Mesquite, TX5.55105157133108
170Worcester, MA4.5816279101108
171Cape Coral, FL3.9916257133108
172Fort Wayne, IN3.6216213585108
173Bridgeport, CT3.5816298115108
174Oxnard, CA2.35162114133108
175Riverside, CA2.10162164109108
176Port St. Lucie, FL1.98162147123108
177Rancho Cucamonga, CA1.39162142133108
178Corona, CA1.17162151133108
179Clarksville, TN0.96162159133108
180Salinas, CA0.84162182118108
181Brownsville, TX0.54162174133108
182Killeen, TX0.34162178133108
Infographic showing the best cities for country music fans, a ranking based on access to concerts, concert venues, radio stations, and more
Note: A total of 182 cities were ranked in this study. However, the lowest-ranking positions for some metrics may be different due to a significant number of ties and/or lack of data for certain cities.

Highlights and Lowlights

Nashville: The Undisputed Capital of Country

Where else can you enjoy a pure, unvarnished country sound than where country music stars are born? Landing in first place is Nashville, Tennessee, the official capital of country music as far as we — and just about everyone else — are concerned.

Music City sweeps nearly every category and metric in our ranking: No. 1 in Genre Interest and Everyday Listening and second place in Performance Access. 

This chart-topping performance really is no surprise: After all, Nashville is home to the famous Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. 

Want to make country music, not just listen to it? There’s no shortage of recording studios here, which is likely why country stars like Dolly Parton, Kacey Musgraves, and Taylor Swift have made Nashville (or the area) home base. 

Other Country Hubs

Besides Nashville at No. 1, America’s iconic country cities seemed to naturally gravitate toward the top of our ranking. Knoxville, Tennessee, lands in comfortable sixth place, while Tulsa, Oklahoma, finishes seventh, and Austin, Texas, boot-scoots in at a respectable No. 12. Bakersfield, California, slips down to No. 61 — mostly due to lack of Google search interest and concert venues (No. 146 in both metrics). 

And how did St. Louis land in the top five? Well, the Gateway City known more for jazz and blues is also home to Nelly, who has gone a Lil Bit country. Yesteryear Country Music Hall of Fame act The Kendalls (Heaven’s Just a Sin Away) has St. Louis roots, too. And Redneck Woman Gretchen Wilson hails from Pocahontas, Illinois, about 40 minutes east of the Arch.

Las Vegas at No. 2, Grand Rapids, Michigan at No. 5, and Birmingham, Alabama in eighth place are other surprise acts. A full calendar of country performances and a healthy presence of country radio stations in each of these cities helped them stand out among the competition.

Killeen Me Softly

If you need a good cry, this should make you tear up: Killeen, Texas, hit rock bottom in our ranking at No. 182.

What went wrong? Well, almost everything: Killeen ties for last place in three out of four categories, including Genre Interest, Performance Access, and Everyday Listening. It ranks fifth from the bottom for Venue Access, but what good is an empty concert hall? 

Killeen’s country music fans will have to tune in to YouTube and Spotify to get their fix.  That or let Jesus take the wheel and drive them down a country road to Austin (No. 12 overall).

Methodology

We ranked 182 of the biggest U.S. cities from best (No. 1) to worst (No. 182) based on their overall scores (out of 100 possible points), averaged across all the weighted metrics listed below.

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. ValueBest
Genre Interest
Google Search Interest in Country Music-Related Terms Over the Past Year12782Max. Value
Country Music Museums per 100,000 Residents107Max. Value
Venue Access
Country Music Concert Venues per 100,000 Residents2051.16Max. Value
Performance Access
Country Music Concerts and Events per 100,000 Residents3028.67Max. Value
Everyday Listening
Number of Country Music Radio Stations206Max. Value

Sources: Country Music on Tour, Google Trends, iHeartMedia, Indie on the Move, Radio-Locator.com, and Wikipedia

Main Photo Credit: Leeroy Todd / Shutterstock

Avatar

Staff Writer